Div­ing Ad­ven­tures around NZ

Adventure - - Winter Escapes -

From the sub-trop­i­cal reefs and beaches of the North Is­land to the unique to­pog­ra­phy and tem­per­ate wa­ters of the South Is­land, it could take a life­time to un­cover all the scuba div­ing sites along New Zealand’s coast­line. You can dive off­shore at the Poor Knights Is­lands or ex­plore fiords, wrecks and sub­trop­i­cal reefs, or nav­i­gate through kelp forests and swim with vast schools of fish. Sim­ply put, New Zealand is a dream dive des­ti­na­tion and a great place to con­tinue your PADI div­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

DIV­ING IN THE NORTH IS­LAND

The North Is­land wa­ters are slightly warmer than the south and con­se­quently, colour­ful corals and big jewel anemones usu­ally dec­o­rate th­ese lo­ca­tions.

• Bay of Is­lands – As the name sug­gests, dive sites are plen­ti­ful in the Bay of Is­lands. Spec­tac­u­lar wreck div­ing can be had on ei­ther the HMNZS Can­ter­bury or the Rain­bow War­rior (Green­peace’s flag­ship ves­sel, bombed by the French Se­cret Ser­vice). Both wrecks are now en­crusted in stun­ning colour­ful jewel anemones, abun­dant in fish life and beau­ti­ful reefs. This area is rich in New Zealand his­tory and a must see for all vis­i­tors.

• Poor Knights Is­lands – As a pro­tected ma­rine re­serve, there is spec­tac­u­lar un­der­wa­ter to­pog­ra­phy in­clud­ing drop offs, walls, caves, arches, tun­nels and an abun­dance of ma­rine life. The sub-trop­i­cal cli­mate and ocean cur­rents mean the arch­ways are teem­ing with blue mao­mao, snap­per, king­fish, morays and bril­liantly col­ored nudi­branchs and of­ten fre­quented by trop­i­cal species such as tur­tles, mola mola and manta rays in the warmer months. It truly is a pho­tog­ra­pher’s dream. With op­por­tu­nity to see orca feed­ing on the many sting rays that in­habit the area, the Poor Knights Is­lands is a unique ex­pe­ri­ence that should be on ev­ery­one's bucket list.

• The Coro­man­del Penin­sula - Dot­ted with is­lands, this coast­line pro­vides many healthy dive sites. Hid­ing in­side the kelp and crevasses you will find trevally and blue mao­mao. In the sum­mer months large king­fish school with gi­ant boar fish, john dory and tarak­ihi. A great va­ri­ety of other ma­rine an­i­mals in­habit th­ese wa­ters from moray eels, stingrays, wrasse, demoi­selles, por­cu­pine fish, snap­per and many other vi­brant species.

• Goat Is­land, Auck­land – New Zealand’s old­est ma­rine re­serve fea­tures a va­ri­ety of en­vi­ron­ments, in­clud­ing rocky shores, deep reefs, un­der­wa­ter cliffs, canyons and sand flats. Look for blue cod, snap­per, cray­fish, sea­weed forests, sea squirts, anemones, sponges and shell­fish.

• The South Coast, Wellington - The South Coast is a favourite for Wellington shore divers. Rocky reefs and co­pi­ous ma­rine growth makes the area an at­trac­tive breed­ing ground for a wide va­ri­ety of ma­rine life.

DIV­ING IN THE SOUTH IS­LAND

With many ma­rine re­serves lo­cated in the South Is­land, the ma­rine life en­coun­ters here are quite in­cred­i­ble. Whales, seals, sharks and the abil­ity to dive be­tween mas­sive fjords are all just a small part of the rea­son why peo­ple visit the South Is­land to dive.

• Long Is­land, Marl­bor­ough Sound - Named by Cap­tain Cook, this ma­rine re­serve is teem­ing with life and home to gi­ant cray­fish, cu­ri­ous blue cod, wrasse, triple-fins and leather jack­ets - just to name a few.

• Mikhail Ler­mon­tov, Marl­bor­ough Sound – Sunk un­der mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances in 1986, this Rus­sian cruise liner now lies fully in­tact on her star­board side. Div­ing on the Mikhail Ler­mon­tov is a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence, with many ar­eas ac­ces­si­ble with­out re­quir­ing pen­e­tra­tion. For those with the train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence this dive site will pro­vide many op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore her ev­ery cor­ri­dor and deck.

• Kaik­oura, South Is­land - In the shal­low wa­ters off the rocky coast­line you can dive with play­ful New Zealand fur seals in the kelp beds. Dusky dol­phins are res­i­dents here and sperm whales can be seen reg­u­larly.

• Aramoana, Dunedin - Nes­tled amongst the macro­cys­tis kelp for­est lies sev­eral scut­tled ship wrecks. Divers can ex­plore the sponge en­crusted wrecks whilst look­ing for sea­horses, nudi­branchs, eels, cray­fish and car­pet sharks. Div­ing here is made unique by the seven gills sharks that oc­ca­sion­ally swim by, cu­ri­ous cod, green-bone, blue moki, wrasse and per­haps the most spe­cial of vis­i­tors - the New Zealand hooker sea lion. The area is also a vol­un­tary ma­rine re­serve to en­sure it re­mains at its best for divers.

• Mil­ford Sound - This spec­tac­u­lar area of Fiordland is stun­ning both above and be­low the wa­ter. Dive through a blurry fresh wa­ter layer to dis­cover crevasses full of cray­fish, ex­treme drop offs and enor­mous boul­ders. Al­ways keep an eye on the deep wa­ter where a pod of dol­phins or play­ful fur seals are of­ten seen. Brightly coloured spiny sea-drag­ons stand out un­der­wa­ter with schools of demoi­selles, leather jack­ets and the much pho­tographed ja­son mirabilis nudi­branch. Rarely seen in such shal­low wa­ters, gi­ant black coral trees break up the in­ner fiord rock walls to cre­ate a dream lo­ca­tion for divers.

• Ste­wart Is­land - The fa­mous kelp forests fea­ture seals, sea lions, sea­horses, blue cod and is a favourite among macro pho­tog­ra­phers.

The PADI Wreck Diver, PADI Deep Diver and PADI Boat Diver cour­ses are nat­u­ral choices for en­joy­ing div­ing in New Zealand. The PADI Dry Suit Diver course may be a good idea if div­ing in the South Is­land or win­ter months. New Zealand is also an ideal lo­ca­tion to be­come a PADI Dive­mas­ter or In­struc­tor with a vast range of div­ing en­vi­ron­ments to build your ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing th­ese cour­ses.

If you’re in­ter­ested con­tin­u­ing your PADI div­ing ed­u­ca­tion in New Zealand, or have friends want­ing to learn to dive, sim­ply search for a PADI Dive Shop near you via www.padi.com.

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