Dive New Zealand


Noted for its flightless kiwis and large numbers of sheep, New Zealand now shyly reveals a vast contrast of marine terrain to amaze the travelling diver.

The North Island is the recipient of a warm tropical south flowing current that brings clear waters to the off shore Poor Knights Islands. Travelling on the current is a host of tropical juvenile fish that make the islands their home. The mix of temperature and tropical species make the islands unique. Hence the establishment of a marine reserve that encompasses the entire area.

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Huge sea caves and soaring arches are veiled with curtains of fish. Plummeting walls are visited by masses of trevally and kingfish who are in turn followed by oceanic sharks such as the swift Mako. From the shallow kelp forests to the deep sponge garden, Poor Knights offer a rich experience for any diver.

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The eastern coast of the northern islands boast many island groups such as the Hen and Chickens, Great Barrier Island and the active volcanic White Island. All offer superb diving with clear offshore water, colourful sponge gardens, lobsters and swarming fish life. 

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The North and South Islands are divided by Cook Strait which, due to its unstable nature, contains many shipwrecks including a huge Russian passenger liner. All can be safely dived on frequent charters utilising the knowledge and expertise of local dive operators.

While the water can get chilly in the South Island, the marine life becomes quite spectacular. Kaikoura, on the east coast and north of Christchurch, has an abundance of marine mammals and fish life thanks to a deep drench that comes within one kilometre of the shore. Nutrients from the 800 to 1600 metre drench are forced to the surface building a food chain to feed seals, schooling fish, diver friendly dolphins in pods of up to 1500, Orcas and the mighty sperm whale which are residents year round. 

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On the south west coast, deep fiords cut into the shoreline forming sheer cliffs that plummet through still waters to unfathomed depths. Usually, a layer of tinted fresh water lies on the surface allowing massive blooms of black coral to thrive in relatively shallow water.

With its northern nose jutting into tropical currents and its southern toes dabbling in the sub Antarctic Ocean, New Zealand spans a rich and diverse marine world waiting to amaze divers of all levels of experience. 

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Jane Resture
E-mail: (jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 16th October 2009)