Institute of Marine Science

The Leigh Marine Laboratory

The Leigh Marine Laboratory offers a field research base with access to a wide range of unspoiled marine habitats.

An aerial photo showing Leigh Marine Laboratory by the sea

The 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 New Zealand's first marine reserve. That reserve is formally named Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, but the area is also known as Goat Island Reserve and the Leigh Marine Reserve.

The location offers students some unique advantages - marine access in almost all weathers, the benefit of a nearby large urban centre and access to the full resources of New Zealand's largest university. For Master of Science (MSc) students, the Laboratory offers the opportunity to live on-site while researching and writing-up their research projects. PhD students are encouraged to find local accommodation in the small coastal town of Leigh nearby.

The academic staff based at the lab coordinate and contribute to a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University's main Auckland City campus. The 11 full-time and two part-time staff members also supervise postgraduate students based at the laboratory.

The laboratory offers a close-knit and vibrant research community of 25 PhD and MSc students, and about five postdoctoral researchers.

Upgrading the laboratory

An aerial shot showing the Leigh Marine Laboratory and Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre by the sea.
The new research Building (centre) was completed in July 2010 and the Discovery Centre (right) opened its doors in October 2011.

A $10 million upgrade completed in 2011 has created a more collaborative and integrated workspace for students and staff, and enabled the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre to move into a new, purpose built facility.

The new, three-storey science building provides offices, breakout meeting spaces, an open plan office for graduate students and a dedicated plant room where the infrastructure for the entire facility is located. Student accommodation and workshops have been extended.

Advances in security procedures mean research work can be done with minimal interruption. Lab and office space has doubled to allow for growth in postgraduate numbers.

The Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre opened its doors in October 2011.The centre manages display structures, public interactions and communicates the University values of research and educational leadership in marine science to the public and schools. It shows processes within the ocean, exhibits marine research undertaken at The University of Auckland and provides hands-on tuition for school groups that interfaces with the NCEA curriculum.

The upgrade was funded by a donation of $4.6 million from the Edith Blackwell Winstone Trust, other donations from private donors and The University of Auckland.

Leigh Marine Laboratory video