Visiting Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand

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Visiting Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand

Goat Island is a New Zealand gem. In the summer, it is packed because of its beautiful surroundings and the not-so-shy creatures that loom in the sea.  Goat island is known for snorkelling and the beautiful marine wildlife.  Arrive early with a packed lunch and a good under-water camera.


Goat island is situated around 1 hour north of Auckland so a great day trip if you’re getting bored with the city.  Goat Island is a marine reserve so all the sea life is protected and not to be caught.  This means there is a healthy amount of beautiful fish that come say hello inches from your face!  It really is an experience to be that close to the sea life.  This was also New Zealands first marine reserve!

I have been to Goat Island twice now.  The first time I was there the weather was absolutely beautiful and I saw some really fascinating colourful fish.  I even swam over a stingray!

The second time wasn’t as good because it was showering randomly and the water turned murky.  If you are thinking of heading there on a cloudy and possibly wet day I wouldn’t bother because you will only be disappointed!  Oh, and watch out for the ducks who will pinch your food and also the dodgy fat looking seagull that looks like it has eaten way too many pies.


Why is it called Goat Island?

The name Goat island came about because goats were released on the island to feed early settlers who were marooned.


Visiting Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand

How to get to Goat Island Marine Reserve, NZ

Goat Island Marine Reserve is only an hour an 15-minute drive from Auckland.  You will follow the SH1 until Warkworth and then turn right to head towards Goat Island Marine Reserve. In the summer though I experienced the traffic to be very bad all the way from the turn off until the reserve.  This place is super packed in the summer so make sure you get here early to reserve a parking space and get some peace before it gets busy!


Visiting Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand

Things to do at Goat Island reserve

I highly recommend you take a picnic and have lunch here.  the views are really beautiful.  the main thing to do here is go swimming and snorkelling.  The underwater life is thriving and there are so many interesting fish and creatures which will allow you to swim right up to them. You may octopus, sea urv=chins, stingrays or if you’re super lucky a dolphin or a whale!

Another option to do a glass boat tour if swimming is not your thing.  There is plenty of boats to take you out on the water and its a great way to see life underwater without getting wet.

If you know how to dive then you can take a full-day scuba diving charter.  As this is a reserve fishing is prohibited so you will see an abundance of beautiful fish!


Equipment hire

I encourage you to bring your own snorkel and flippers if you have otherwise no worries, you can rent them at the stores which are at the reserve.  You can also rent wetsuits and a range of other equipment if you need.


Visiting Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand

Accommodation at Goat Island

At Goat Island, there is a camping ground.  There are also a few accommodation options on Booking.com nearby too!

check accommodation near Goat Island Marine Reserve


Goat Island is a fantastic day trip option if you are exploring Auckland and want to get away from the city.  It’s a beautiful, scenic spot and a fantastic option if you’re a family.


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  • Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Why is it called goat island, was it full of goats at one point ? 😀

    • Reply
      April 19, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Back in the day they used to fill the island with goats to provide food for those who were marroned on the island!

      • Reply
        April 19, 2015 at 9:31 pm

        Oh i see ! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 1, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I have been camping in Goat Island quite a few times (I live in Auckland). The camp site is just up the hill from the beach. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Agness of Fit Travelling
    November 5, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Goat Island is so picturesque and magical. Excellent pictures and a very inspiring post!

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