Snorkeling at Goat Island
Goat Island isn’t so much of an island, per se, as it is a large rock off the east coast of Northland in New Zealand. But it shelters an area of the marine reserve and provides ideal conditions for a gorgeous reef and abundant marine life. We wanted to do some snorkeling here back in February and March when we traveled through Northland, but not having a car at that point made it a bit harder to accomplish.
But now that we have a car and are staying just an hour’s drive south of Goat Island on the North Shore of Auckland, we decided to take a day trip. We waited for a mostly sunny day, packed a picnic lunch, and hit the road. A good tip from the man working at the petrol station meant we drove the scenic route through Orewa to avoid the toll on Highway 1.
Though we were able to borrow most of the gear we needed from our hosts, we still lacked one snorkel mask, so we stopped by Goat Island Snorkel & Dive on the way to hire one. Even with a fair amount of cloud cover when we arrived, Goat Island was just as beautiful as the pictures!
After a snack we suited up and made our way down to the beach.
Let me take a moment to offer some advice for snorkeling at Goat Island:
1. Please wait for a steamy, stinking hot day in January or February to enter the water here.
2. And please, whatever you do, wear a wetsuit!
I could not even fathom how so many other people were swimming in this water without a wetsuit (some in their clothes!) It had to be the coldest water I have ever swum in. Even with a full wetsuit it took me a at least twenty minutes to get my whole body wet. Then I couldn’t stop shivering even while we were swimming.
But I have to admit, it was worth the pain to snorkel here! The plant life in the reef was incredible and the fish were massive! Since we saw so many snappers, one of them may have even been the popular 60-year old snapper, “Monkeyface.” Unfortunately we don’t have an underwater camera to give you a glimpse of what we saw, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
After we changed out of our wetsuits (and finally stopped shivering!) we continued north for another 10K to Pakiri Beach. Our poor little car was bumped and jostled over a couple long sections of unsealed gravel road, but she made it there and back again. The soft white sand and long stretches of waves made this an ideal place to rest after our excursion.