From secluded coves to exotic wildlife, Lisa Toi, long-time Rodney resident and healthcare consultant, offers her highlights package for Leigh.
I came to the Matakana region in 1997 and moved out to Leigh in 2007. It’s a sanctuary. Three days a week, I work from home, and I also commute into Auckland. We live on what is probably the best street in the Rodney district and have great access to Daniel’s Reef. You can see the swells from the road and be down there in two minutes. You look out and see Hauturu / Little Barrier, Aotea / Great Barrier, Coromandel and Tāwharanui. It’s an amazing view. And we see all the ships coming into Auckland as well.
The Cove Walk
This is the place that has the most meaning for me. We’ve walked this track many, many times – we used to run it when we were fitter! – and taken so many friends and overseas visitors there.
Such memories. From Leigh Wharf, you walk right around Leigh Harbour, across a little bridge over an estuary, onto a clifftop and down to a cove. You’re walking among native bush, and we’ve seen ruru / morepork and other amazing birdlife.
You come out of the track onto a little beach that is super private and has incredible sea life. One night, we saw five massive stingrays, but we didn’t see any other people. In the height of summer, you’ll see maybe 10 groups, but at other times, we’re so lucky we have it to ourselves.
Just to the right of the cemetery used to be this old goat track that all the teenagers would go down to get to big rock pools and massive rocks that you can jump off.
Locals call it ‘The Nordic’ after a ship that sank out from Leigh Harbour. It’s a place our family has spent a lot of time swimming at in the past 10 years. Auckland Council has now built stairs, which is awesome, as that makes it so much more accessible.
A quintessential New Zealand bay. There’s a paddock where people can camp, and also a beautiful walk. We used to do it when you had to scramble over gravel, rocks and roots. Now, it has boardwalks and stairs. There’s a waterfall and a couple of places to sit as you weave your way up to Leigh Road. Over summer, we often put our beanbags, blankets and drinks in the truck and go down to Matheson Bay. We either cook our own food or get fish and chips.
Ti Point Reptile Park
As my kids have grown up, we’ve done ‘forced family fun’ – walks, or picnics, or taking them to the Ti Point Reptile Park. It’s been going for years. It’s a family business, and they’re very involved in the community. They’ve got alligators, tuatara, skinks, tortoises, turtles, geckos, tarantulas and iguanas.
Goat Island Marine Reserve
As locals, we tend to stay away in peak season, but we really love birds, so sometimes during the week we’ll head down, sit up in the car park and watch the kawau / shags going nuts in the pōhutukawa trees. It’s definitely one of Leigh’s main attractions.
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