Nature and conservation
Extending from Cape Rodney to Okakari Point, the marine reserve includes the waters 800 m from shore including Te Hāwere-a-Maki/Goat Island.
The University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory is based next to the reserve. Its scientists make regular studies to discover how a marine ecosystem functions without harvesting or intervention. Be careful around any scientific equipment you may come across in the reserve.
Beneath the waves you may see seaweed forests, sponge gardens, and all the creatures of the rocky shore. The fish in the reserve are abundant and friendly.
Find out how the marine reserve status has helped sea life in the area.
History and culture
Motu Hāwere is of central importance to the identity of Ngāti Manuhiri. The area is an iconic reminder of the early origins of Ngāti Manuhiri and their links with the earlier iwi of the area - Wakatūwhenua being the landing place of the Moekakara waka captained by Tahuhunuiarangi.
Motu Hāwere which shelters Wakatūwhenua, has the longer traditional name of Te Hāwere ā Maki. This sacred name is associated with Maki who led the conquest of the area in the late seventeenth century. Maki was the father of Manuhiri, the founding ancestor of Ngāti Manuhiri. The mana and mauri of this name and landmark, and the waters that surround it, is thus of immense significance to the iwi. The island was occupied as a pā by the Ngāti Manuhiri warrior ancestor Maeaea, who was a grandson of Manuhiri. It was on the basis of descent from Maeaea that Ngāti Manuhiri received title to Motu Hāwere in 1901.
The adjoining land was maintained as a kāinga and cultivation by Ngāti Manuhiri for many generations until after early European settlement. The land, known as the Wakatūwhenua Block, part of which forms the Leigh Recreation Reserve, was specifically reserved from sale to the Crown at the request of the Ngāti Manuhiri rangatira Te Kiri in 1861.
The marine reserve is about one and a half hours’ drive north of Auckland, near Leigh. Take SH1 to Warkworth and follow the Goat Island Marine Reserve signs.
Know before you go
The marine reserve is unsuitable for in-the-water activities during east or north-east winds of 20 knots or more, and east or north-east swells of more than a metre.
To help protect marine life inside the reserve, remember:
- no fishing of any kind, either from a boat or from shore
- no taking or disturbing any marine life, inlcuding shellfish and seaweeds
- no taking of any part of the sea floor, including rocks and shells
- no feeding the fish as it disturbs their natural behaviour.
Penalties for failure to comply under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 include confiscation of equipment, vessels or vehicles, fines and imprisonment.