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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 10 Alternative Things to Do in Auckland
- 10 Best Things to Do in Orewa
- 10 Best Things to Do in Warkworth
Finally, get inspired for more adventure with The Best Day Trips from Auckland.