The marine life at Goat Island is so good that visitors can get close to fish without getting wet. It may not be quite the same as diving in but for those who prefer dry land, it is possible to see huge snapper and parore from the rocky coastline. There really is no place quite like it. Officially named Cape Rodney-Okakari Point, Goat Island was established in 1975. It was the first marine reserve in New Zealand. The reserve stretches along five kilometres of coastline and extends 800 metres into the water. Visitors can bring their own snorkelling gear and explore the reserve and the sheltered waters offer opportunities for all levels of swimmers. With underwater crevasses, seaweed forests, sponge gardens and sandy shores within a flipper-kick distance, there is plenty of sea life to see. Crayfish are particularly prevalent. Confident swimmers can swim to Goat Island but they must stick to the coastline so as not to disturb nesting birds and unstable ground.
This is a no-kill-or-take zone so leave fishing rods, dive bags and shell collections at home, and remove anything that is brought into the area. Please don’t feed the fish, no matter how much they eye the picnic. There is plenty of space to throw down a blanket and have lunch, and there are bathrooms and changing rooms available. There is no store or drinking water so bring enough supplies.
Goat Island Dive staff are experts on the area so who better to join for a guided snorkel tour? They also host half-day dive classes or PADI dive courses for those who want the full immersive experience. If snorkelling is a one-time thing, they have everything you need.