Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, Northland New Zealand
Goat Island is just over an hour north of Auckland in New Zealand. Many tourists and locals visit for a day to snorkel, dive or just chill out on the beach. The area is a marine conservation so no fishing is allowed, which leaves plenty to satisfy the eye when diving. If you go specifically to snorkel or dive it’s worth checking out the tide before hand. The conditions need to be perfect for good visibility and if you get a good day, you won’t be disappointed. On our last trip to Goat Island, the conditions weren’t all that so we took Esmé to the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre on site.We had previously taken our niece and nephew aged 6 and 10 a year earlier and they really enjoyed it. I was chancing my luck taking a toddler as I really thought it would be too advanced for her. The experience was quite the opposite. It was a toddler sensory haven! It’s funny how you see things completely different from before when you bring a little person curious and eager to experience.From the large shark bean bags to the endless discovery drawers filled with shells, sea sponges and other marine sensory touch items, Esmé was running around with sheer excitement. There is a specific station with toddler chairs and table for colouring in sea life pictures. Esmé particularly loved the glass floor which she was initially unsure about walking across. As you look through the dark blue glass it looks like you are looking into the deep-sea, a very cool 3D experience, something new for Esmé.
Outside in the courtyard is a large fish tank with a few species from the marine reserve. We had lots of practice at the word ‘fssssssh’. There is also a large touch pool filled with amazing coloured starfish, live shellfish. crayfish and sea urchins. We did have to be a little careful with the urge to grab and squeeze the cute starfish but a bit of ‘looook.. gentle’ seemed to do the trick. Esmé was loving the opportunity to splash the water about. For older kids, there is always a member of staff nearby to explain all of the species in the pool. The mix of visual and touch provides a lovely sensory experience for any little person. It’s well worth the trip if you are looking for something to do in the area.
Admission fees go directly toward supporting the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre operations. Any retained earnings are used to fund marine science scholarships.