Leigh Visitor Information
Facilities in & Around Leigh
Travelling to & Around Leigh
Leigh is 80kms north of Downtown Auckland, New Zealand. To get here follow SH1 north across the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It’s best to turn off at Orewa and follow the scenic coastal route which is toll free and rejoins SH1 north of Waiwera. Continue on SH1 to Warkworth, then turn right at the 3rd set of traffic lights and follow the Goat Island Marine Reserve signs, through the Matakana Valley and township, to Leigh.
Access from the north is varied: One turnoff is at Waipu which follows the coast to Mangawhai then through Tomarata and Pakiri to Leigh. An alternative is to turn off at the northern end of Wellsford at Matheson Road and follow the signs to Pakiri and Leigh. There are some unsealed sections on both these routes. Or you can continue on SH1 to Warkworth, turn left at the second set of traffic lights and follow the Goat Island Marine Reserve signs to Leigh.
- There are regular buses to Warkworth and from there to Matakana. Plan your journey www.at.govt.nz/journeyplanner or phone 0800 10 30 80 for more information.
- Also check out Mahu City Express and the Matakana Explorer bus. www.mahucityexpress.co.nz/matakana-explorer-bus/
- Intercity buses also pass Warkworth daily.
- Local taxi services include Matakabs www.matakabs.co.nz or Warkworth taxis www.warkworthtaxiandbus.co.nz
For any emergency dial 111 and ask for Ambulance, Police or Fire.
There is an ATM (automatic money machine) located inside the Leigh General Store. The store is open from 7am – 6pm daily except Christmas Day. Outside these times, the nearest ATM is at Matakana in the market square below the cinema.
At the 2013 census, there were 441 residents living in Leigh. There were 183 occupied dwellings and 117 unoccupied dwellings, a number of these being holiday homes so these is a big increase in people over the summer months and on long weekends.
Interesting Fact: After English, the next most common language spoken was French which was spoken by 2.4% of the population.
Public facilities are at Pakiri Beach, Matheson Bay, Goat Island, Leigh Hall, Leigh Wharf, Whangateau Domain, Big Omaha Wharf, Ti Point, Pt Wells, Omaha Boat Ramp, Omaha Surf Club and and Matakana Village.
Matakana Cinemas is a stunning three-theatre boutique cinema complex situated in the heart of Matakana Village. It has state-of-the-art sound systems and spacious and luxurious seating, as well as incredible individually styled cinemas. Enjoy one of the latest movie releases with an ice-cream, a glass of wine or beer from the Vintry Wine Bar or a cup of coffee while watching your movie. Check their website to see what’s playing and when.
Leigh Harbour has a concrete boat ramp suitable for trailer boats up to 6m (except at low tide); Omaha has a larger concrete boat ramp suitable for launching on all but the smallest spring low tides. Other small boat ramps are at Point Wells, Big Omaha and Whangateau Domain (high tide only).
Wharves in the area include Leigh Harbour, Ti Point, Omaha and Big Omaha. If you are fishing off one of the wharves, remember to pull your fishing lines in when boats move alongside.
Lookouts & Seats
There are plenty of good places to enjoy the views of the area. The Leigh Community Club and Business Community have added seats near many of the walking tracks. The lookout area along Cape Rodney Road has views out to Little Barrier Island, Goat Island and Omaha Bay. At the top of Pakiri Hill the views across Leigh and Omaha Bay are spectacular.
The Leigh Library was set up in 1870 in a private home before being moved in 1880 to the Little Omaha School then to the hall around 1890. Many of the records were destroyed by a fire in 1958. A new hall and library opened in 1960.
The library is now situated in The Cottage on the corner of Hauraki Road and Cumberland Street diagonally opposite the Leigh General Store. It is run by volunteers from the Leigh community. Come in and sign up and get free access to books and puzzles. The library also has a display of historical photos from the area.
Open Tuesday 2-6pm, Wednesday 2-4pm, Thursday 11-1pm and Saturday 9.30-1pm.
There is a small skateboard park opposite the Leigh General Store, next to the Leigh School grounds.
There are children’s playgrounds at Matheson Bay, Whangateau Domain, Matakana Country Park, and at Omaha. There are two extra long swings next to the Leigh skateboard park.
Leigh has two tennis courts situated in Albert Street, next to the Leigh Bowling Club. Visitors welcome. Contact either Wayne Jackson 021 1227713 at Leigh Eats or Marie-Dominique Lennan 021 490 039 at LJ Hooker Real Estate
St Michaels and All Angels Church in Leigh is an interdenominational church with Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican Services. All denominations and visitors are most welcome. Services are held each Sunday at 11 am.
Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade
You pass the Leigh Fire Station as you drive into town. Leigh’s firemen and women are volunteers who respond when the siren sounds, day or night, for any emergency. They are qualified and experienced in firefighting, motor vehicle crashes, natural disasters and search and rescue and are also first response medics who are trained to handle medicals until an ambulance arrives. All calls for emergencies should be made by dialling 111 and asking for ambulance, police or fire.
Leigh Community Directory
Forest & Bird Community Coast Care Group
A group of locals restoring the Leigh Coastal Reserves and adjacent bush areas to their original, and stopping pest plants (pampas and mothvine) from spreading to Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) and Tawharanui Regional Park. Contact: Neil Sutherland Ph 09 422 6001
Leigh and Districts Ex Services and Community Club
Meets 4pm, 1st Sunday in the month at the Leigh Bowling Club. Contact: President: Lucy Harris Ph 09 422 6620.
Leigh Badminton Club
To restart club contact Dennis Humphrey Ph 09 422 6625.
Leigh Bowling Club
Leigh Business Community
Leigh Cards 500
1:00 – 3:30pm, Leigh Bowling Club, all welcome, $3.00.
Leigh Cemetery Trust
Contact: Secretary: Joyce McCormick Ph 09 422 6893
Leigh Community Preschool
Ph 09 422 6516 www.leighpreschool.co.nz
Leigh Girl Guides, Brownies & Pippins
Contact: Fay Bradnam Ph 09 422 6038
Bookings and enquiries contact Lynn Mellsopp Ph 0272868625 or email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leigh Harbour Valley Society
Ph 09 422 6880 www.leighharbourvalleysociety.org.nz
Open Tuesday 2-6pm, Wednesday 2-4pm, Thursday 11-1pm, Saturday 9.30-1pm. Librarian Tracey Lawton Ph 09 422 6944
Ph 09 422 6031 www.leigh.school.nz
Leigh Tennis Club
Enquiries at Leigh Eats or Marie Dominique 021 490 039 Email email@example.com
Leigh Walking Group
Meets on Mondays at 9.30 am for interesting walks throughout the Rodney, Kaipara and Auckland regions. Contact: Hugh McKergow Ph 09 422 6219.
Leigh Women’s Bowling Club
Meet Tuesday, October-April, for friendly bowls. New members very welcome. Phone Olive Gravatt 09 422 6273 or Wendy Brooks Ph 09 422 7963.
Matheson Bay Neighbourhood Association
Secretary Peter Spence – Ph 021 404 529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pakiri Community Landcare Group
Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc. (TOSSI)
Secretary Karyn Hoksbergen 09 585 1315 or 021 155 6400 www.tossi.org.nz
Whangateau Folk Club
Whangateau Acoustic Music and Social Club is a small community operation run for the benefit of touring independent musicians, the support of local musicians, and local music lovers. Meet the last Monday of each month at the Whangateau Hall, doors open 6:45pm. www.whangateau.co.nz
Whangateau Neighbourhood Support
Sharyn Carew email@example.com
Whangateau Residents & Ratepayers Association
Meets 7.30pm, 2nd Tuesday of month at Whangateau Hall. Ph Audrey Sharp 09 422 6209 or Hugh McKergow 09 422 6219
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE AND CELEBRANTS
JP – Fay Bradnam Ph 09 422 6038
JP & Wedding Celebrant – Dr John Peebles 021 974 247
JP & Funeral Celebrant – Barrie Mason Ph 021 683 747
Celebrant Annie Mellor www.fabulousweddingnz.com Ph 027 929 767
Love Leigh www.facebook.com/groups/LoveLeigh/
Leigh Historical Photographs NZ www.facebook.com/groups/739949979454558/
Special Event Venues
Weddings, Celebrations, Conferences
History of Leigh
Leigh was named in 1858 after Rev. Samuel Leigh, a missionary who visited the area. Read more about Samuel Leigh at www.teara.govt.nz
More About the History of Leigh
The Leigh community has an interesting mix of farmers, fishermen (commercial and recreational), divers, marine scientists, retirees and families with young children.
Maori settlement dates back hundreds of years with Ngati Wai and Ngati Manuhiri, the people of the area. At the time of European arrival, in the 1830s, the Maori Chief Te Kiri ruled the district. A meeting house at Omaha Marae sits above Leigh Harbour and is named after Te Kiri. Learn more on local Maori history at www.ngatimanuhiri.iwi.nz
The first settlers came from Nova Scotia and cleared forest for farmland. They also began boat building at Matheson Bay, Leigh Cove and Whangateau Harbour.
A sawmill was established at the head of Leigh Harbour with most timber transported by sea. In 1939 it was resited alongside Pakiri Road where it operated until being purchased by the Guinness Family in 1994. They converted it into the Leigh Sawmill Cafe which opened in 1996. See more on the history of the Sawmill on www.sawmillcafe.co.nz
A jetty was built in Leigh Harbour and railway lines ran from the quarry to load scows at high tide. The quarry shut down in 1930. Coastal steamships brought day trippers from Auckland to local events such as the Leigh Show, disembarking at the Leigh Wharf. The wharf has been upgraded over the years and services commercial fishermen unloading their catch or filling up with ice. Dive charter boats also load divers and nearby is a small boatramp.
Leigh Fisheries was established in 1957 by a group of local fishermen. Since that time it has been extended with a ice plant and now exports fish all over the world. Leigh (Lee) Fisheries
The Jolly Fisherman’s Lodge at the head of Leigh Harbour was built in the early 1900s and has now been restored. It was used as a holiday place accessed by walking around the rocks.
Mail came by coastal steamer until the roads were established. The old Leigh Post Office, on the corner of Hauraki Rd and Ferndale Ave, is now privately owned. At Whangateau there is a historic boatyard where boats are still worked on. They occasionally hold a regatta and old steam boats and other boats ply the harbour.
The first church service in Leigh was held in 1866 and the church was built in 1915. It was moved to its present site around 1950 and is now a interdenominational church with Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican services and is know as St Michaels and All Angels Church.
In 1964 the Leigh Marine Laboratory was established above Goat Island. A major refurbishment included the building and set up of the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, where visitors can find out more about marine science.
Several marine scientists advocated to have a marine reserve established at Goat Island and the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve became the first marine reserve in New Zealand opening in 1975. Since then it has attracted thousands of visitors who come to snorkel, dive or just view the fish from the glass bottom boat. The marine reserve is looked after by the Department of Conservation.
Daniel’s Reef, one of the most popular surfing spots, was named after a surfer, Adrian Rogers. Adrian always wore a hat and was nicknamed Daniel Boone.
The Leigh Library was first set up in 1870 in a private home. It moved in 1880 to the Little Omaha School then moved to the hall around 1890. Many of the records were destroyed by a fire in 1958. A new hall and library opened in 1960. The library operates opposite the Leigh General Store and is run by volunteers from the Leigh community. There are usually a few books that visitors can purchase.
The Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade was set up in 1964 and the Leigh Fire Station opened in 1976. Volunteers have regular training in first aid, fire fighting, cliff rescue and search and rescue.