Leigh Activities and Attractions You Can’t Miss!
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!
While you’re in the area, make sure you visit the surrounding towns all with their own unique attractions. Find out more in our 9 Places You Can’t Miss on the Matakana Coast and 10 Wonderful Things to Do in Warkworth.
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 the 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.
2. Walk the Goat Island Walkway
This 45-minute one-way walk 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.
3. Walk on the Leigh Harbour Walkway
This walk really captures the peaceful vibe of Leigh. See the boats in the Leigh Harbour and walk through a mix of bush, including stands of kauri, rocky shores and sandy beaches. The Leigh Harbour Walkway is 1-hour return.
Location: Start from the either to 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.
4. Visit Pakiri Beach
Just 12km from Leigh is the long sweeping Pakiri Beach. The sandy beach is 14km so there’s enough room for everyone to do a wide variety of activities, whether it’s horse riding, surfing, surfcasting, or simply strolling along the shore. Check out more 11 Awesome Horse Treks in New Zealand.
Location: Pakiri Road then Pakiri River Road.
5. Visit the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre
Another fantastic thing to do in the Goat Island area is taking 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 the Leigh Harbour. Fishing at the Goat Island Marine Reserve is forbidden.
Location: All around Leigh.
8. 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 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.
9. 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: Park at Ti Point Road near the wharf.
10. Try Craft Beer and Some Great Eats at the Sawmill Cafe
Unwind with superb craft beer, wood-fired pizzas and live music at the Sawmill Cafe in Leigh! Plus, catch their half-price pizzas every Thursday during winter.
Location: 142 Pakiri Road.