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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings
New Zealand is a diving paradise. With accessible coastlines, marine reserves and hundreds of offshore islands, the underwater world is vast and diverse
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 dive sites along New Zealand’s 14,000-kilometre/8700-mile coastline. Many of the hot spots are easily reached from the mainland and there’s a wealth of PADI Dive Shops ready to help with trips to the off shore islands and reefs. You can dive fiords, wrecks, and sub-tropical reefs, or explore kelp forests and swim with vast schools of fish. Simply put, New Zealand is a dream dive destination.
It’s also a land of stories, were the Māori culture runs deep. The tangata whenua, (indigenous people), settled here more than 1000 years ago and make up 14 percent of the population. Common Māori terms and phrases are part of the local vernacular: kia ora (hello) is a handy start for the visitor.
When you’re not diving you can try your hand at bungee jumping, river rafting or hiking through some of the many parks and reserves. Other attractions include hot pools, steaming mud, skiing, Tane Mahuta (the largest tree and God of the Forest), mountain biking, snowboarding, helicopter rides,endless beautiful coastline and superb food and wine
Just a 30-minute drive from Dunedinon the South Island, Aramoana Mole has the most accessible dive wrecks in the country, beautiful temperate marine life, exquisite sponge gardens and kelp forests. There is good road access and it's a nice drive when you go with a local PADI Dive Shop. Depths average 7 - 20 metres/23 - 65 feet.
The Fiordland World Heritage Area's overpowering rugged beauty isn't confined to the mountains, lakes and rivers. Deep inside the fourteen sheltered fiords (some penetrating inland up to 16 kilometres/10 miles), minimal water disturbance results in exceptionally good visibility along the steep cliff faces. Heavy rainfall (up to 7 metres/23 feet per year) produces a10-metre/33-foot surface layer of fresh water. This tannin-colored layer reduces light levels, fooling deep dwelling creatures like black coral and groper into thinking their habitat is deeper (about 30 metres/100 feet deep) than it is. The result is a feast of remarkable underwater sights.
In this spectacular fiord divers may encounter black and red corals and spiny sea-dragons. Half the fiord is a marine reserve that is just as spectacular above the water, boasting glacier-carved hanging valleys, thick native forests and spectacular waterfalls. You can drive, taking a bus tour or fly to Milford Sound from Queenstown on the South Island.
Secretary Island, a favorite haunt of bottlenose dolphins, guards the entrance to Doubtful Sound. Carnivorous starfish prey on the mussels blanketing Deep Cove while Bauza Island and The Guthave glorious red and black coral. Doubtful Sound is not directly accessible by road. Travel arrangements may be made at Queenstown,Te Anau and the town of Manapouri, where your Doubtful Sound adventure begins at Deep Cove.
A short ferry trip opens up dive sites scattered around Stewart Island that boast some of the richest and most varied marine habitats in New Zealand. The dense, swaying jungle of giant kelp is home to myriad fish and divers can also visit the Marine Maid wreck. Stewart Island is about 30kilometres/19 miles south west of Bluff off New Zealand's South Island and is accessible via ferry or flight.
Poor Knights Islands
Just a day trip away from Auckland is one of New Zealand's finest dive locations. A dive trip to the Poor Knights is a unique,once-in-a-lifetime experience. The islands cover just over 200 hectares/495 acres and they lie 12 nautical miles off the northeast coast of Tutukaka. The southern island, Aorangi, has a conical shape with its peak at 254 metres/833 feet. The northern island is called Tawhiti Rahi. Tutukaka Harbour (30 kilometres/19 miles from Whangarei) is the charter boat base. Depths range from 10 - 40 metres/33 - 130 feet.
This incredible archway plummets to 44 metres/144 feet and is stacked with schooling blue maomao, trevally and demoiselles. The vertical walls are packed with a range of colorful invertebrate life and it is a true spectacle of nature's creation. Watch for the resident stingrays. Currents can be strong here and demand appropriate training and experience.
Red Baron Caves
The rock formations here are typical of these volcanic islands andfeature a series of arches and outcrops that drop to the bottom at25 metres/82 feet. Penetrating light illuminates the colorfulsponges, anemones, hydroids, corals and nudibranchs on the walls atdepth.