Underwater Exploration On Board the Glass Bottom Boat

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Auckland and the surrounding region, but if you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure, a voyage aboard the Glass Bottom Boat is a must.  The boat offers you the chance to marvel at the many different species that can be seen both below, as well as above the water, in the vicinity of Goat Island.

The Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve, which is the correct name of the more commonly called Goat Island Marine Reserve, was the first marine reserve to be established in New Zealand. Since 1975, 547-hectares of coastline and ocean up to 800-metres from the shore have been protected. Tours of the Reserve aboard the Glass Bottom Boat have become one of the most popular Auckland attractions for families, and is the perfect opportunity to look, learn, play, and explore this spectacular marine environment.

 Glass Bottom Boat NZ

The Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Photo credit Glass Bottom Boat)

Trips begin close to the coastal town of Leigh, about as hours' drive north of Auckland City and there are several departures each day. The 11-metre boat is called "Aquador" and it was specially designed and constructed to provide the best possible viewing experience. There is seating for up to 49 passengers around the two 5-metre long glass panels which provide a privileged and unique look at life below the waves. A gentle ramp makes boarding the boat safe and easy and you don’t need to get wet at any point of the tour - unless you want to!

One of the most popular trip options is the 45-minute tour around Goat Island, or Motu Hawere as it is called in Maori. This excursion includes the opportunity to observe both the North Reef as well as some large sea caves, and is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Auckland for kids, who are sure to be captivated by the undersea world.  The live commentary throughout the tour is educative and informative, with visitors learning about the different species of fish and other marine life, the reefs and the birds which will be seen on the journey. Sometimes whales, dolphins, orcas and sharks can even be observed, passing through the reserve as they make their seasonal migrations.

 Goat Island Marine Reserve

Peer into the undersea world of the Goat Island Marine Reserve (Photo credit Glass Bottom Boat)

A trip on the Glass Bottom Boat can be enjoyed at any time of year, but occasionally weather or sea conditions make it necessary to reschedule tours, as Captain Scott Pennington's prime concern is the safety and comfort of his passengers. Glass Bottom Boat also hires out a full range of snorkelling equipment including masks, snorkels, fins and wetsuits, so you can get a fish-eye’s view of the reserves marine life. Double, single or glass bottom double kayaks are also available for hire, and like the snorkelling gear, can be hired separately from the other activities.

The Goat Island Marine Reserve is managed by the Department of Conservation and it is one of their nine coastal gems. It is prohibited to remove anything from the area and slowly the fish, shellfish and crayfish populations, and the kelp, is returning, after having been heavily exploited up until the 1960s when uncontrolled fishing and collecting had decimated the natural recourses of the area. The University of Auckland established a marine laboratory here in 1964 to study the marine life and to monitor the recovery of the different species.

A trip on the Glass Bottom Boat offers a unique opportunity to learn about conservation and preservation projects and to really appreciate the unique beauty of this marvellous natural attraction. Visitors to New Zealand should pick up their Auckland hire car from one of Omega Rental Cars’ conveniently located branches and start experiencing everything this scenic region has to offer.