12 Best Things to Do in Leigh© Unsplash
12 Best Things to Do in Leigh

12 Best Things to Do in Leigh

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Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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The Top Activities and Attractions in Leigh, New Zealand

Nature, adventure, sports and food: Leigh has a real mix of experiences waiting for you! Situated on the Matakana Coast in the northern region of Auckland, Leigh is famous for its marine life found at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. The reserve, with snorkelling, clear kayaking and glass-bottom boating available, is a destination in itself but there’s more to discover in this little coastal town! See what else you could get up to with this list of things to do in Leigh.

1. Visit the Goat Island Marine Reserve

Leigh’s biggest attraction is the beautiful Goat Island Marine Reserve; New Zealand’s first marine reserve where marine life is protected! Its marine reserve status makes it one of the best places to see marine life in the whole Auckland area with an abundance of fish and marine mammals. There are many ways to experience Goat Island: snorkelling, diving, glass-bottom boat, clear kayaking and more! Check out the 5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve for inspiration.

Location: Goat Island Road, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) north of Leigh.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Walk the Goat Island Walkway

The 45-minute one-way Goat Island Walkway takes you along the clifftops of Cape Rodney for expansive views of the Hauraki Gulf. Look out to Little Barrier Island and enjoy the coastal vegetation on this well-maintained trail.

Location: The end of Goat Island Road opposite the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) north of Leigh.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Stretch Your Legs on the Leigh Harbour Walkway…

This walk really captures the peaceful vibe of Leigh. See the boats in Leigh Harbour and walk through a mix of bush, including stands of kauri, rocky shores and sandy beaches on the Leigh Harbour Walkway. The Leigh Harbour Walkway is a 1-hour return.

Location: Start from either the boat ramp or from Cape Rodney Road. Note that the track leading to the rocky shore section of the walk may be covered at high tide, so alternatively, take Ferndale Avenue to continue the walk.

Justjenine on Wikipedia© Justjenine on Wikipedia

4. … Or Leigh Coastal Path

An alternative walk awaits south of the Leigh Harbour Walkway on the Leigh Coastal Walk. The 1-hour one-way trail takes you along the pohutukawa-fringed coastline of Leigh along a mix of paved, gravel, boardwalk and grass trail. Learn more about the trail on the Auckland Council website.

Location: Start from Lax Crescent where parking is available.

10 Best Things to Do in Leigh© Unsplash

5. Visit Pakiri Beach

Just 12 km (7.5 mi) north of Leigh is the long-sweeping Pakiri Beach. The sandy beach is 14 km (9 mi) so there’s enough room for everyone to do a wide variety of activities, whether it’s surfing, surfcasting, bird watching or simply strolling along the shore. It takes around 20 minutes to walk to the southern end of the often deserted Pakiri Beach where you’ll likely spot a number of oystercatchers, dotterels and terns. You can also enjoy views of Little Barrier Island from Pakiri Regional Park.

Location: Pakiri Road then Pakiri River Road, approximately 12 km (7.5 mi) north of Leigh.

10 Best Things to Do in Leigh© Unsplash

6. Visit the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre

Another fantastic thing to do in the Goat Island area is to take a look around the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre. With lots of interactive displays and even a touch tank, there are lots of things to get excited about for your trip to the Goat Island Marine Reserve. If you’re going to visit the Discovery Centre, make it the first thing you do at Goat Island.

Location: End of Goat Island Road, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) north of Leigh.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Check Out the Ti Point Reptile Park

See lizards from New Zealand and all around the world at the Ti Point Reptile Park. Tuatara, alligators, iguanas, tortoises, turtles and even tarantulas can be seen in specialised enclosures to suit their needs. The park with its coastal setting is also a great place for a stroll and a picnic.

Location: 27 Ti Point Road, approximately 2.5 km (1.6 mi) south of Leigh.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Go Fishing

The coast around Leigh is rich in snapper and kingfish so do some surfcasting or join a fishing charter and try your luck! The Outpost, Matheson Bay, Ti Point and Pakiri Beach are all popular fishing spots but to find the best places, join a fishing charter tour available from Leigh Harbour. Note that fishing at the Goat Island Marine Reserve is forbidden.

Location: All around Leigh.

Pixabay© Pixabay

9. Explore Matheson Bay

Just a 15-30-minute walk from Leigh, Matheson Bay is a sheltered bay that is ideal for swimming, exploring rock pools and going on bush walks. There’s a children’s playground, making it a great place for the family. Explore the bush walk with kauri stands and a waterfall on the Kohuroa Stream Track or walk all the way to Daniel’s Reef at low tide (this is a favourite local surf spot too).

Location: Matheson Bay Road. The bush walk is on the west side of Kohuroa Stream or can be started along Leigh Road.

Follash on Wikipedia© Follash on Wikipedia

10. Walk the Ti Point Coastal Walkway

Another spectacular coastal walk in the Leigh area is the Ti Point Coastal Walkway. Pass by large and old pohutukawa trees and look out to Omaha Beach and the Whangateau Harbour. The walk ends in the Ti Point Scenic Reserve with more great views of Leigh and Little Barrier Island. The 2-hour return walkway is easy to follow, although not all well-maintained as other tracks in the area, and there are a few stiles to cross.

Location: End of Ti Point Road, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) south of Matakana.

Pexels© Pexels

11. Try Craft Beer and Wood-Fired Pizza at the Sawmill Cafe

Unwind with superb craft beer, wood-fired pizzas and live music at the Sawmill Cafe in Leigh! Plus, catch their two-for-one pizzas every Thursday during winter, quiz nights every other Wednesday, and gigs every now and then.

Location: 142 Pakiri Road.

Pexels© Pexels

12. Shop, Dine and Drink Wine in Matakana

Neighbouring Leigh is the hotspot of Matakana, famous for its artisans, wineries and artists. Discover unmissable eateries and shops in Matakana Village, pop into various cellar doors, and check out amazing sculpture parks like the Sculptureum and Brick Bay Sculpture Trail. There’s so much to do there, that you need only head to 20 Best Things to Do in Matakana & the Matakana Coast to discover more.

Location: Matakana, approximately 13 km (8 mi) southwest of Leigh.

10 Best Things to Do in Leigh© ATEED

More Things to Do Near Leigh

That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Leigh. For more ideas of what to do nearby, check out these guides:

Finally, get inspired for more adventure with The Best Day Trips from Auckland.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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