Take a trip to the Goat Island or Te Hawere-a-Maki marine reserve where fishing is prohibited and marine life has returned in abundance. Prominent species include blue maomao fish, snapper, and cod. It does get crowded here, and midweek is best. You can put on a snorkel and get up-close-and-personal with a maomao. The beach area is good for a picnic, as well.
To get to Goat Island head toward Leigh, 21 km (13 miles) northeast of Warkworth. From Leigh, take a left turn and follow the signs for a couple of miles. If you arrive by 10, you should avoid the masses especially midweek and in winter. Obtain leaflets about Goat Island from the Warkworth Visitor Information Centre.
Seafriends. You can rent a mask, snorkel, and flippers (NZ$15)—and a wetsuit if it's too cold for you (NZ$15)—from Seafriends; their sign is about 1 km (½ mi) before the beach on the main drag, Goat Island Road. The operators of this business are knowledgeable and very helpful. 7
Goat Island Road. 09/422–6212. www.seafriends.org.nz.
Glass Bottom Boat. Just as the name promises, Glass Bottom Boat sails a glass-bottom boat around the island (NZ$25) and gives you an aquarium eye view of waters teaming with fish. If the weather isn't ideal, there is an inner reef trip. Call ahead, because trips don't run if there is too much of a swell. (NZ$20). Goat Island Road, 0947. 09/422–6334. www.glassbottomboat.co.nz.