Marine Conservation Institute, recognizing the need for more and better ocean protection, is leading a major initiative to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. Launched in 2017, the Global Ocean Refuge System is an innovative strategy to incentivize decision makers to establish protected areas that safeguard marine life and promote opportunities for sustainable tourism. Learn more about the program at globaloceanrefuge.org
The Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve protects diverse habitats, including rocky coastline, sponge gardens and deep reefs, with high biodiversity and many endemic species. The reserve features warm temperate habitats representative of New Zealand’s rich and unique waters.
Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve is located in the Hauraki Gulf along the coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Nearly 1,000 marine species live within the reserve. It includes waters 800m from the coast and Goat Island, or Te Hāwere-a-Maki.
Te Hāwere-a-Maki is of great importance to Ngāti Manuhiri, the local Maori tribe. The Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve Conservation Management Strategy indicates that the Department of Conservation, “will be working to support iwi [Maori tribes] to achieve their aspirations in relation to these places and to implement settlements.”
The ecosystems within the reserve are healthier and in a more natural state than those outside its boundaries. For example, before the marine reserve was created, much of the kelp forest on the reefs was overgrazed by sea urchins. Following the implementation of the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, sea urchins declined as the abundance and body size of spiny (rock) lobster and fish increased.
The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) is a Marine Conservation Institute initiative working to build a global network of effective marine protected areas to save ocean wildlife. In 2018, GLORES grew to include 10 blue parks around the world.
Goat Island, the local name for Cape Rodney/Okakari Point Marine Reserve, was New Zealand's first marine reserve. It was established in 1975 and in less than 10 years it became a rich ecological area, teeming with fish and other sea life. Previously the area had been overfished, so this transformation illustrated the value of conservation.
Beneath the waves habitats range from rocky shores and sandflats to deep reefs, underwater cliffs and canyons. Each habitat has its own community of sea creatures.
The best way to experience the reserve and its inhabitants is to get into the water. With a mask and snorkel you can explore the sand and rocks close to shore while scuba divers can visit deeper areas further out. Divers need to be careful not to break off small fragile animals such as gorgonian fans, lace corals and sponges - some of these are hundreds of years old.
In shallow areas of the reserve, particularly off the main beach, you will see many varieties of fish and shellfish. At low tide you can explore the rocky shore, taking care not to disturb rock pool creatures.
Two coastal walkways leading from Goat Island Bay through coastal forest offer spectacular coastal views and quiet picnic spots. One walkway leads from the western end of the car park, the other from the driveway to the marine laboratory.
Contacts & Resources
Original data record from World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) via ProtectedPlanet.net [view record on site].