Leigh Marine Laboratory

Perched on cliffs above the sea, Leigh Marine Laboratory is our marine research base and most northerly campus (about 100km northeast of Auckland City).

Leigh Marine Laboratory

The Leigh Marine Laboratory differs from many other marine labs in that it is, in effect, the University's "marine campus". Located about 100km northeast of Auckland City, it sits on the edge of Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (also known as Goat Island Marine Reserve). Goat Island Marine Reserve is New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve. Established in 1975 for the purpose of scientific study, it covers 518 hectares of marine environment.

This location offers some unique advantages - marine access in almost all weathers, only an hour away from the CBD and full access to the University’s resources while being situated in a stunning scenic location.

The academic staff based at the lab coordinate and contribute to a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University's main city campus. They also supervise postgraduate students based at the laboratory, the city campus, NIWA and the Cawthron Institute.

The laboratory offers a close-knit and vibrant research community of PhD, MSc, MMC, MMS students, and postdoctoral researchers and a range of facilities including:

Research facilities

  • Laboratories - wet, chemistry, and microscopic
  • Constant temperature room for algal culture
  • Seawater system for holding live animals
  • Tank rooms with large and small aquaria with both flow through and reticulated seawater capabilities
  • Workshop - fully-equipped with two full-time technicians
  • Coastal climate station with 30 years of records

Teaching and learning

  • Coastal and marine library reference collection
  • Computer and software resources
  • Teaching laboratory and seminar room with remote video link to the city campus

Boat Fleet

  • Home to the largest boat fleet at any New Zealand University
  • 15-metre RV Te Kaihōpara research vessel (able to support six people for up to a week at sea)
  • A fleet of smaller (<6m) outboard motor vessels for local coast access


  • Temporary bunkroom accommodation for up to 24 students
  • Four longer-term student accommodation units
  • A nearby self-contained cottage for visiting researchers

Postgraduate students can also access the following facilities at NIWA:

  • Deepwater RV Tangaroa, the only vessel of its kind in New Zealand
  • A range of other ocean-going research vessels 
  • Bream Bay Aquaculture Park 
  • National Centre for Aquaculture

For more information about visiting or conducting research at the laboratory, please contact:

Phone: +64 9 422 6111
Email: ugadvice-marine@auckland.ac.nz