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The 5 best places to go scuba diving in New Zealand

Scuba diving New Zealand

The 5 best places to go scuba diving in New Zealand

New Zealand isn’t known for being a great place for scuba diving, but I don’t understand why. There are many beautiful dive sites and even two places that are among the best in the world! In this blog I will give more information about the great places where you can go scuba diving in New Zealand and why you should definitely do it. If you don’t like scuba diving, check out the other activities in New Zealand. Many of the locations mentioned below are also excellent locations for snorkelling or boat trips.

1. Northlands

The Poor Knights Islands are located on the north-east coast of the North Island. The waters surrounding the islands are considered the best places to go scuba diving in New Zealand. These island are also internationally recognised when it comes to diving! But what makes this place so special? The water in this area is a mix of warm and colder water and therefore there is a great variety of fish. Furthermore, there are caves, tunnels and “underwater arches”. Stingrays can also be spotted here during the warmer months. Scuba diving in the Poor Knights Islands is good all year round, but October to March is considered the best time. This is a great place for beginners as well as experienced divers!

Three sunken ships can also be found in the waters around the Northlands area. The Rainbow Warrier is located in Matauri Bay. This ship is the smallest of the three, it is 40 meters long and 27 meters deep. The Tui also lays off the east coast near Tutukaka. This ship has a length of 64 meters and is located at a depth of 32 meters. A dive around this ship is popular for the large shoals of Golden Snappers and Jason Mirabilis (snails) on Hydroid polyps. The third ship, The Waikato is the longest ship, it is no less than 113 meters long. This ship is located at a depth of 28 meters. This ship is also located on the east coast at the height of Tutukaka.

2. Fiordland

Scuba diving in the Fiordland area (in the south of New Zealand’s South Island) is a unique experience. The Fiordland area, and specifically Milford Sound, is known for having heavy rainfall. It is one of the wettest places in the world, which also receives little sunlight due to the high mountains. The rain that ends up in the sea through the forests forms a dark layer of fresh water above the salt water of the ocean. As a result, fish and coral that normally live very deep underwater live more on the surface here. This gives you the chance to discover new species without being a very experienced diver. For example, there are many “Red and Black Coral Trees” reasonably on the surface, while they are normally at a depth of 100 meters or more. You also have the chance to encounter dolphins, seals, sharks, eels and stingrays while diving here. Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are the locations where you can dive in the Fiordland.

3. Hauraki Gulf

The Hauraki Gulf is located on the east coast of New Zealand, at the height of Auckland. There are several islands around here where you can dive very well. Great Barrier Island is the largest island in this gulf. This island consists of 70% protected nature park. Diving around the island is considered the best dive site in the Hauraki Gulf and by some even one of the best in the world. This is due to the good visibility and abundance of marine life. Here too you can dive to shipwrecks. Since 1854, 24 ships have stranded around the islands. It is also possible to see dolphins in this area, read more about marine animals in New Zealand.

Other excellent diving spots are near the islands of Little Barrier Island, Hen & chicken Island and Tawharanui Marine Reserve (Goat Island). The Little Barrier Island has many rugged reefs where many fish live. Crayfish, Red Mokis, Painted Mokis, New Zealand Demoiselle’s and the Blue Maomao make a visit to these waters special. You can also find these fish around the Hen and Chicken Islands. The dives in this area usually go to a depth of 25 meters and you generally have a visibility of 10 to 20 meters. Tawharanui Marine Reserve was declared New Zealand’s first marine reserve in 1977. The ease of finding big Snappers and Blue Maomaos makes diving here special, as they get very close to shore here. Therefore this is also an ideal place for beginners.

4. Bay of Plenty

Near the coast of the Bay of Plenty on the North Island of New Zealand you also have great diving locations. You may have heard of White Island, which is where New Zealand’s only active submarine volcano is located. But what many people do not know is that diving here is incredibly beautiful. There is a great diversity of different marine animals, you can find many native fish here, but also stingrays, seals and turtles. In addition to viewing various marine animals, you can also admire the volcano openings under water. There are no fewer than 9 dive sites in this area, so plenty to see!

Whale Island is a little further south than White Island but still along the coast of the Bay of Plenty. Whale Island has an abundance of schooling fish such as the blue Maomao and New Zealand Demoiselles, Koheru and the Kingfish. It is a very colourful reef due to a wide variety of coloured sponges. The little blue penguins and New Zealand sea bears live on the island itself, so you can also encounter them in the water.

5. Kaikoura

In my blog about marine animals in New Zealand I explain in detail which animals you can see in Kaikoura, but you can also dive there. In this area, kelp forests and limestone reefs can be seen, they are inhabited by octopuses, crayfish, sponges and marine invertebrates. It is also possible to dive with wild seals here.

Diving schools

Dive! Tutukaka: Poor Knights Islands.

Dive the five: Poor Knights Islands, The Rainbow Warrior, The Tui & The Waikato.

Descend: Milford Sound

Fiordland Charters: Doubtful Sound

New Zealand Diving: Great Barrier Island, Little Barrier Island, Hen & Chicken Islands, Tawharanui Marine Reserve, The Poor Knights Islands, White Island, The Tui, The Waikato

Dive Whakatane: Whale Island

Dive Kaikoura: Kaikoura

Free e-book: tips for traveling New Zealand


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