The Cape Rodney-Okakari Marine Reserve is New Zealand’s first marine reserve. Established in 1975, the reserve protects 547 hectares of shore and sea on the north-eastern coast around Cape Rodney, Okakari Point and Te Hāwere-a-Maki/ Goat Island. The marine reserve is about one and a half hours’ drive north of Auckland, near Leigh. Five kilometres of coastline and an area extending 800 m offshore are included in the reserve. Marine life now flourishes in an area where fish populations were once greatly reduced. Crayfish and snapper are now abundant and the reserve has become an important breeding and nursery area for many species.
The University of Auckland’s marine laboratory was established in 1964, before the marine reserve. However staff and students soon discovered that people were eating the experiments, affecting research. It took a further 11 years for the marine reserve to be established and is now one of more than 40 marine reserves around New Zealand.