Experience Family Activities…
School holidays, family days out or weekends away – rain or shine – there are numerous activities to keep the whole family amused.
Must dos for
all the family…
• Discover marine science at the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre
• See the amazing reptiles at the Ti Point Reptile Park
• Snorkel, kayak or take a boat trip at Goat Island to see the fishes and more!
Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre
160 Goat Island Road, Leigh
At this great facility run by the University of Auckland, you can get up close to New Zealand’s marine life, without getting wet or sea sick! The high definition videos, interactive displays, sound corridor and tidal touch tank brings our region’s marine diversity to all ages in a fun and entertaining way. Something for the whole family.
Open weekends, public & school holidays in winter, every day in summer.
Ti Point Reptile Park
27 Ti Point Road, Ti Point
The Ti Point Reptile Park has a unique collection of both native and exotic species. It is the only zoo in New Zealand that specialises in reptiles. The animals are well displayed with good information. The range is huge and includes an alligator or two, tortoises, lizards, tuatara and much more. A visit here is ideal for the whole family to wander at your leisure and learn more about reptiles. Discover these fascinating creatures in enclosures designed to suit their individual requirements. Also highly suitable for schools and other groups wanting to learn a little more about these amazing animals. It is a pleasant walk or you can enjoy a picnic at the tables set around the park.
Glass Bottom Boat
Goat Island Beach
The boat mainly runs over the summer months and infrequently over winter. Check the website for days it is operating. The boat covers some of the reefs including the famed North Reef with its masses of fish. Visitors can see snapper, silver drummer, red moki and schools of trevally and kahawai while staying dry. Other highlights are the caves on the seaward side of the island, gannets, penguins and the occasional dolphin or whale.
There are children’s playgrounds at the following locations:
- Next to Leigh school, opposite the Leigh General Store – small skateboard park and swings
- Matheson Bay
- Whangateau Domain
Beaches and rockpools
Leigh is surrounded by coastline so there are lots of options for enjoying a day at the beach. Matheson Bay is a safe swimming beach in most conditions while older children will enjoy the surf at Omaha.
At low tide, the rocks around Leigh Harbour and Matheson Bay provide some great options for exploring rockpools. Echinoderm Reef at Goat Island has interesting rock pool life such as colourful sea slugs, crabs, sea urchins and little fishes, but remember that everything here is protected and nothing can be taken. Tawharanui Regional Park provides a great day out for the whole family with walks, beaches, picnic areas and is also a marine reserve where all marine life is protected.
Pakiri Beach is a beautiful long sandy beach with a safe swimming tidal lagoon for young children. Take a walk to the southern end of the beach at low tide and you will discover big rock pools with anemones, little black mussels and octopus.
Festivals and Galas
A fair or gala is always a great day out for the whole family. Here are some of the regular events in our area.
Leigh School Market Day – February
Leigh Preschool Gala: Labour Weekend Sunday
Warkworth Kowhai Festival: October
Matakana Country Park
Matakana Country Park is a privately owned 50-acre estate on the road between Leigh and Matakana. It hosts a wide range of family-friendly activities including:
- Miniature train rides – operates weekends and school holidays, weather depending
- Animal experience – free entry
- Adventure playground – free entry
- Horse and carriage rides
You can shop at the Craft Co-op and the Art Gallery.
Food options include:
- Bramble Café for breakfast and lunch
- Stables Restaurant for dinner
- Smiths for sharing plates and drink
Open 7 days from 6am – 9pm. All businesses within the Country Park operate separately so please check the website for opening hours and other information.
New Zealand’s sheep and wool centre.
An interactive and fun show highlighting the rounding up, sorting and shearing of sheep. Experienced presenters (and sheep dogs) give visitors an insight into to what happens on a real sheep station. Shows are indoors twice daily.
See also the “Wonder Wool” multimedia exhibition that shows how wool is used in New Zealand to create internationally sought after products, many of which are on offer at the Ecowool store on site. Sheepworld is located 4 km north of Warkworth on SH 1. For more information, visit their website.
Highland Garden Park and Donkeys
Donkeys living at Highfield Garden Reserve in Algies Bay began in November 1969. The first donkey was named Tilly and was soon joined by Toby and every new donkey has a name begining with ‘T’.
With Community support and help from Auckland Council, the donkeys at Highfield are well cared for but enjoy offerings of carrots, apples and silverbeet as treats. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the reserve and the donkeys, but are reminded that the donkeys are wild animals and must be respected and care must be taken particularly with small children.
You can access the Highfield Garden Reserve either from the the main road (signposted) or from the Algies Bay beach front car park on Gordon Craig Place. From the beach, you’ll head north along the coastline following the markers, up the many steps to the lookout for fabulous views across Kawau Bay and a thigh workout. Allow around 60 minutes for the stroll.