Auckland’s Five Marine Reserves
Think of New Zealand’s marine reserves as national parks of the ocean! Auckland is a great place to start discovering them for any keen diver or snorkelling enthusiast. New Zealand’s first marine reserve was established in Auckland at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. Due to being protected from fishing, the abundance of sea life is highly notable compared to outside these areas. But where else can you go snorkelling in Auckland?
The marine reserves are a great opportunity to see what New Zealand’s ecosystem is like underwater. Hire yourself some snorkel gear (or buy just a snorkel and mask for summer swimming as you may want a wetsuit at other times) and check out the array of marine life. If you don’t fancy getting in the water, you can see the number of seabirds attracted to the area and enjoy the view from dry land.
1. Goat Island
Also known as Cape Rodney/Okakari Point Marine Reserve, Goat Island is Auckland’s most famous snorkelling spot. Every summer the crowds head to the marine reserve to snorkel amongst the likes of huge snapper and stingrays. For those that don’t feel like getting wet, the reserve also offers glass-bottom boat tours. Marine wildlife is plentiful in the reserve, as it was New Zealand’s first underwater reserve. Don’t forget to check out the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, just a short walk from the beach, to learn more about the work and marine life in the area. Learn more at 5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve.
Location: Near Leigh, Auckland
2. Anchor Bay Beach
Anchor Bay Beach (and so many other beaches on the Tawharanui Peninsula) is a blast to explore in calm sea conditions. Full of great sea life habitats, the Tawharanui Marine Reserve gives you a great chance to spot many endemic species without the crowds of Goat Island. The young reserve (it is only a few years old) is located about 90km (56 miles) north of Auckland, making it an easy summer day trip.
Location: Tawharanui Regional Park, Warkworth, Auckland
3. Pollen Island
The spectacle is both under sea level and above sea level in Pollen Island / Motu Manawa Marine Reserve. The thriving sea life beneath the surface provides an endless supply of food for sea birds such as branded rail, white-face heron and even pukeko. No need to get in the water to watch the show, the birds will get the fish out for you.
Location: Waitemata Harbour, Auckland
4. Te Matuku Bay
Waiheke Island is one of Auckland’s main attractions, welcoming thousands of visitors every year. However, the island’s large estuary and marine reserve, Te Matuku, is both hidden and protected so only a few know about it. Bring your own snorkel or diving gear and head for a swim where you are highly likely to be the only one. That’s without counting the hundreds of fish around you.
Location: Te Matuku Bay, Waiheke Island, Auckland
5. Long Bay
The bay is a very popular Auckland attraction in summer where locals gather to avoid tourist crowds and make the most of the vibrant marine life in the Long Bay/Okura Marine Reserve. Well-equipped with a camping ground, picnic areas and walking trails nearby, this can easily be a great weekend getaway from the busy Auckland city centre.
Location: Long Bay, North Shore, Auckland