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Your guide to Leigh
All About Leigh
Lush, tree-covered hills descend into clear, blue-green waves on the outskirts of Leigh, a tiny fishing community an hour north of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. People come here to swim, scuba dive, and surf in the pristine and inviting waters. Leigh is also renowned for its glass-bottomed boat rides offering enchanting views of the marine ecosystem.
If you prefer to stay on land, the panoramic hike along the Goat Island Walkway takes you through lush fields and broadleaf forests, with views of Hauturu or Little Barrier Island nature reserve. The hidden coastal community has a low-key atmosphere with local fisheries, a general store, a dive shop, coffee shops, and restaurants serving comfort food.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Leigh
The North Island sees only mild temperature swings between the seasons, so it’s comfortable to spend time outdoors in Leigh all year round. The ocean warms up at the beginning of summer in December, and the area experiences its highest temperatures during February and March. This is the optimal time to stay in a vacation rental at Leigh, as the surrounding vegetation is at its greenest. The sea is comfortably warm in summer, so you can enjoy surfing, swimming, and other water sports. During the winter months, from June through August, Leigh sees chilly and damp weather conditions, but nothing extreme. You can still enjoy adventures in the ocean, when the cold water accentuates the thrill of skiing, surfing, and diving.
Top things to do in Leigh
Scenic Glass-Bottomed Boat Rides
Several operators along the Leigh coast offer tours on glass-bottomed boats, which give an intimate experience of sailing across the sea while peering down at all its denizens. Some boats are made entirely of transparent materials and offer once-in-a-lifetime views of the ocean floor, reefs, and caves. You can even rent a clearyak (transparent kayak) and take a solo tour.
Goat Island Marine Reserve
Just to the north of town, the Goat Island Marine Reserve is a prime destination for marine enthusiasts. Grab your snorkel gear (or rent some), swim with the fish, and then walk to Pakiri Beach. Amid the kelp forests and sandflats in these protected waters, you’ll find a wide variety of marine life, including dolphins, orcas, and fur seals. At low tide, you can wander along the rocks at the shoreline, scouting out tide pools.
Leigh’s economy relies heavily on its fishing industry, and casting a line can be a laid-back recreational activity for visitors as well. You can rent fishing gear or even a boat in town, get some light snacks, and head out onto the water.