One of the great things about travel is the unexpected discoveries along the way. An alluring photograph of tents overlooking the ocean near Leigh 90km north of Auckland caught my eye while searching for a place to camp on our drive to Northland.

As we wind our way down the steep road to Goat Island we pass a sign saying, ‘Goat Island Marine Reserve’. That’s not what I was expecting – we drive past the campsite to the end of the road and see a number of people in wetsuits carrying masks and snorkels.

Madison Clifton of Matakana snaps a photo of a tide pool

In the bay below us in the late afternoon light, people are snorkelling in the clear blue-green water. A channel separates Goat Island from the rocky shoreline. My interest is peaking.

“Lucky we brought our dive gear,” I say to Rick. “We can go for a snorkel tomorrow.”

To read this and other articles on the NZ Today website please click here to sign up for a membership. Once a member and logged in, you'll be able to read all the articles on the site.