Goat Island, Pt. 1: Goat Island Coastal Walk

I am, it must be confessed, a remarkably lazy planner. I have a list of places I have heard about and might want to visit, and whenever I’m trying to figure out what I want to do I will pull something off the list. Most of the time this works really well. Sometimes it means my exploring is much less efficient than it could otherwise be.

Case in point: Goat Island.

Goat Island (and the nearby headlands) is up North nearly to Whangarei. It’s quite popular in the Summer amongst snorkelers, SCUBA divers, and other such sea explorers. Most people thought I was a bit daft to be going during Winter, though that part I think was actually good planning because it meant I had the place largely to myself, even if it also meant most things (such as cafes) were closed.

But I basically ended up re-driving nearly the entire route I drove to Whangarei! I’m not sure exactly how I could have squeezed the Goat Island trip into that two-day vacation, but I still felt like I was not traveling as efficiently as I could have.

But no matter! My first stop was a wee cove at a random turn-off from the main road.

I was able to clamber around and get some rather nice photos.

But this post is really about the short walk I did once I got up to the head: the Goat Island Coastal Walk.

This walk has that strange New Zealand charm where it feels in equal parts meticulously planned and entirely haphazard. You can see the first bit — paved and all — running alongside the road there (you’ll have to excuse me if the trail itself is on the periphery; I was distracted by the fantastic view!).

Of course there are sheep. (This photo was taken only a few minutes after the previous one. No, it didn’t suddenly become dusk. It’s just the stark difference between how well my actual camera and my phone camera deal with bright scenery.)

Some bits of the track are shaded, but much is out in the open sun. Make sure to apply sunscreen!

The hill is quite the steep climb, but it’s a short climb and the payoff is…well, just look.

Oh, look, I can see my car from here :)

And that is the actual Goat Island. Famous for giving its name to a touristy snorkeling area. Oh, and for having goats, I guess. Just kidding! No goats on Goat Island. For a minute I thought I was going to have to create a goats tag.

The coastline extends a lot further out than the track actually goes. What is that ghostly land mass in the background? I don’t rightly know. I would guess Tawharanui Peninsula, but depending on which way I’m facing it could actually be the Little Barrier Island! Or something else entirely; I have no idea!

What’s the best part about making it to the top? The view, obvs. What’s the second-best part? It’s all downhill from here!

And there were actually some shady bits, but I didn’t take quite as many photos of those parts.

That’s the Goat Island Coastal Walk! Next time we’ll still be in the Goat Island area. We’ll visit some birds and some dead people and follow along as I go on a really dodgy hike and try not to become a dead person myself. See you then!


7 thoughts on “Goat Island, Pt. 1: Goat Island Coastal Walk

  1. I’m inordinately disappointed that there are no goats on Goat Island. maybe the island is shaped like a goat. or! there is one goat on the island, and the island belongs to that goat. just because you didn’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. yes. >:-| or there is a menace on the island that has consumed the many goats that had previously roamed freely. it probably lives on that unknown ghostly land mass.
    (it looks like a really nice area and doesn’t deserve this type of response from me. I am sorry, Goat Island.)

    • I actually (and uncharacteristically) did extensive Googling research.

      One story is that the island was so named because European sailors released goats there to provide food for anyone marooned there. Possibly reasonable, since although you could trivially swim to shore, it might not be quite so easy to get up to the actual land.

      Another story is that, since goats can survive on eating plants without drinking water, any island with foliage but without a fresh water supply was called a goat island because only goats could live there (this second source also mentions releasing both goats and pigs onto the island, though it also says the pigs escaped by swimming to shore. Which seems to belie my point above re: the accessibility of the mainland).

      But yes. Goats.

      • I had seen mention of the first explanation but like the second one better. it makes sense of how there seem to be quite a few places called Goat Island. maybe none of them were actually named for that reason, but I need something to make some sense. xD

        • I and some buddies visited Goat Island again yesterday! We actually swam out to the island and hung out with the (not) goats. It was goatally sweet!

          I also noticed, which I missed last time, that there was a board up talking about what each of the visible islands were.

          I don’t know if I’ll make another post for it or not; I may steal some gopro footage from my friends who have a couple of them. I didn’t take any photos from the island myself since camera + water = sadtimes when you don’t have a waterproof housing.

          • my brain initially processed the words to mean that you swam with the goats. I continue to be inordinately disappointed with Goat Island! :( xD

            • You might not care about such things, but the island has some really neat tide pools. I sat in one and it was warm, so it was kind of like a saltwater Jacuzzi. And then little shrimps came and started nibbling on my feet and legs. It was like being in a spa! (or at least what I assume it would be like to be in a spa. I’ve never been to one). There’s also some neat sea caves, and (you might care about this bit) the island is home to some rare ground-nesting birds. While tragically goatless, Goat Island is still a pretty neat place.

              • (I’m just…kidding…harhar…and fake-disappointed about the lack of goats. ;))
                I like tidepools–there are always neat things in them. even if it’s just rocks with holes worn through them from the water.
                I’ve seen spa-places on tv where they have little critters nibble the dry skin off your feet! it was on an episode of The Amazing Race: Australia vs. New Zealand. but they went to…Cambodia? for that and weren’t allowed to know what spa treatment they were getting. the ladies who got the critters were ticklish and shrieked a lot. (I would be, too. probably end up stomping the critters and being kicked out of the spa.)

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