Nature and conservation
View of the beach at the marine reserve
Extending from Cape Rodney to Okakari Point, the marine reserve includes the waters 800 m from shore including Te Hāwere-a-Maki/Goat Island.
Snorkeller and blue maomao at Cape Rodey-Okakari Point Marine Reserve
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. Do not feed them as this makes them aggressive, altering their natural behaviours and making them harder to study.
3D multibeam map video
Watch this fly-through video of a 3-D multibeam map of Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve.
The area was surveyed by Discovery Marine Limited and University of Waikato, in partnership with the University of Auckland.
History and culture
Tahuhunuiarangi pou at Goat Island Bay
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.
To get to the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve 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.
Rules and regulations
- Do not exceed five knots in a boat or jetski within 200 m of the mainland, the island or a dive flag, or within 50 m of a boat or person in the water.
- Dogs are not permitted at the marine reserve at any time, including the car park.
- Take your rubbish away with you or use the bins provided near the toilet block.
- Do not light fires on the beach or on the grassy areas.
Observe the rules and regulations for the marine reserve:
- No fishing of any kind is permitted.
- Do not take or disturb any marine life, including shellfish and seaweeds.
- Do not remove any part of the sea floor, including rocks, dead sea shells or washed up seaweeds.
- Do not feed the fish as this disturbs their natural behaviour and can make them aggressive.
Care code for Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (PDF, 119K)
Map of carpark and facilities at Goat Island Bay.
View larger carpark map (JPG, 49K)
There are visitor information displays, toilets, an outdoor cold shower, changing rooms, and rubbish and recycling bins alongside the car park, but drinking water is not available.
In Leigh you will find a general store, petrol station, cafes and takeaway food outlets.
During the summer months snorkel gear can be hired locally, either at the beach or in the Leigh township.
What to bring
- Good walking shoes
- Warm clothes
- Swimming and snorkelling gear
- Sunblock and sunhat
- Food and drinking water
Map and boundaries
View larger map (with WSG84 lat/long coordinates of reserve boundaries) (PDF, 127 K)
Marine reserve boundary GPS points (WSG 84)
- 36 15 15.8860 S, 174 46 20.0130 E
- 36 15 43.1600 S, 174 46 08.6910 E
- 36 16 38.3945 S, 174 49 17.7049 E
- 36 16 01.3036 S, 174 49 17.8592 E
- 36 16 01.5368 S, 174 48.58.5119 E
- 36 15 53.3850 S, 174 48 47.5215 E
- 36 15 50.4567 S, 174 48 32.7406 E
- 36 15 34.7778 S, 174 48 25.4830 E
- 36 15 24.3908 S, 174 48 02.7383 E
- 36 15 23.2028 S, 174 47 50.4882 E
- 36 15 25.5038 E, 174 47 37.2063 E
- 36 15 35.6607 S, 174 47 19.8388 E
- 36 15 44.5224 S, 174 47 13.8560 E
- 36 15 42.7406 S, 174 47 04.0341 E
- 36 15 16.6485 S, 174 46 23.5840 E