DIVING NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is a bucket list destination for many. Stunning scenery and beautiful nature make it a dream destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Not to mention that it was the filming destination for the Lord of the Rings series and the Hobbit, which only added to this country’s popularity. Whether you plan on chasing mountains or movie scenes, New Zealand is definitely worth a visit.
NEW ZEALAND DIVING
While the mountains, hills, and hobbit houses are definitely worth checking out, it’s also worth knowing that scuba diving around New Zealand makes it an even better.
With thirty six marine reserves around the islands and in the fjords, a number of wrecks, great visibility, and plenty of marine life, it’s a must dive destination. So, for those interested in exploring the marine world of New Zealand, here are the best dive sites across the country.
BEST DIVE SITES
| The North Island |
New Zealand’s North Island has a bit of everything; rugged landscapes, vibrant cities, and relaxing beaches. It’s ideal for discovering the Maori culture and enjoying the island’s hot springs. Of course it’s also home to dozens of fantastic dive sites. The North Island is home to many sub-tropical reefs, home to colourful fish and warmer waters than divers will find in the south. Here are a few of the sites you should not miss:
The Rainbow Warrior
A Greenpeace ship that was sunk by French Foreign Intelligence in 1985 in front of Auckland, it was since been relocated to Matauri Bay where it has become an artificial reef and one of the best dive sites in New Zealand.
Easily accessible from Auckland, Goat Island was New Zealand’s first marine reserve. There are several dive sites here with a range of depths, though divers need to be aware of the currents which may make some sites inaccessible at certain times.
The Poor Knights Islands
Possibly the best known dive area in New Zealand, the Poor Knights Islands were once named as one of the top 5 dive sites in the world by Jaques Cousteau. The islands lie 14 miles off the Tutukaka Coast making it an easy day trip. Nudibranchs, pelagics, stingrays, and sharks can be found here. The topography here is also interesting with arches, caves, and kelp forests.
The Wellington Area
New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is surrounded by beautiful coastlines that offer some pretty great dive sites. There’s an array of dive sites with different depths and levels of difficulty making it a great area for divers of all levels. Some of the most popular dive sites in this area include Taputeranga Marine Reserve and Wellington Harbour which makes a great night dive. There are also several wrecks in the vicinity as well.
The Mercury and Alderman Islands off the Coromandel Peninsula are musts for those interested in scuba diving . The Alderman Islands offer interesting topography with rocky shelves, tunnels, and pinnacles while the Mercury islands are home to moray eels, plenty of nudibranchs, and crayfish.
White Island is home to New Zealand’s most active volcano, and the waters surrounding it offer incredibly diving. There are three sites here that attract plenty of tropical fish. Be sure to check out the underwater vents here as well.
Roca Blanca is one of the best dive sites in Puerto Escondido, which is a must in your diving itinerary. The beach is a 6-kilometer long beach that is suitable for sport fishing and surfing, but is mostly known for its diving. The site is named after a rock that has served as a local landmark. The area is a world-renowned scuba diving site but is suited only for advanced divers due to the strong waves on the area. Extreme precaution is needed when diving Roca Blanca.
Some of the marine life species that thrive here include tuna, turtles, dolphins, and oysters.
Pressure point, along with Punta Colorada and Roca Blanca, offers excellent diving spots for tourists who come to Puerto Escondido. Diving this site gives the opportunity to come up a diversity of colorful fish such as trigger, puffer, parrot, butterfly, and angel fishes. The type of fish that you will encounter will depend on which specific area you are diving in.
| The South Island |
New Zealand’s South Island may be best known for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit filming locations, but the diving here is pretty spectacular as well. The waters here are colder, often requiring a dry suit, but the visibility is spectacular and the dive sites offer some unique experiences that will entice any avid diver to explore the underwater world of New Zealand’s South Island. From fjords to caves and more, here are the best dive sites in New Zealand’s South Island.
Sperm whales, dusky dolphins, and fur seals are the big draw for divers around the town of Kaikoura. While the marine life is definitely the highlight, the kelp forests and and limestone reefs in the area are quite interesting a well.
A freshwater cave dive with plenty of stalagmites and stalactites. This is a cold water dive, so a dry suit is a must.
Black coral trees, nudibranchs, and crayfish are abundant in this marine reserve. If you are lucky, you may also see dolphins, seals, or even great white sharks while exploring the waters of Milford Sound. Due to colder water temperatures, even in the summer, a dry suit is recommended.
The Mole is a man-made rock wall created to help protect the pier. Over the years a few boats have been scuttled here to add more to the dive site. Along with the wrecks, kelp forests and friendly seals make the Aramoana Mole a must-dive site when in New Zealand’s South Island.
The Mikhail Lermontov Wreck
If you enjoy wreck dives than the Mikhail Lermontov is a must. The largest wreck in Australasia, the ship sank in 1986 and is one of the most easily accessible wreck dives in the world. The wreck is located in the Marlborough Sound.
So named by Captain Cook, Long Island (also in Marlborough Sound) is a marine reserve home to plenty of interesting species including blue cod, giant crayfish, and triplefins.
The largest freshwater springs in the country, Pupu Springs (officially called Waikoropupu Springs) is one of the most unique dive spots in New Zealand. Plenty of marine flora and crystal clear visibility make it a beautiful dive destination. You do need special permission to dive here, so check ahead of time with Blenheim Dive Centre to make sure it’s allowed.
BEST TIME TO DIVE
Many of New Zealand’s dive sites can be accessed year round, but for the best conditions and warmer waters its best to come during the months of January and June. Water temperatures reach about 21 degrees celsius in the North Island and around 18 degrees celsius in the South Island.
The colder temperatures in the south may deter some warm water divers, however visibility in these sites can exceed 40m.
Sharks are best seen from December to May and your best bets for manta rays are December to February. Whales, on the other hand, can be seen year round.
Like with other dive locations around the world, weather conditions play a big role in the safety and accessibility of dive site throughout the year, so it’s best check with local dive operatives ahead of time for any tips or advice.
HIGHLIGHTS OF NEW ZEALAND
Travelers that have visited New Zealand, tend to say that it is their favorite destination they have ever visited. It is a big combination of things, that make the country such an amazing place to visit.
Things like the amazing untouched natural beauties (above and below the waves), the clean, uncrowded cities, the ultra friendly people, and countless more attractions. You can never get enough.
From the screen saver-like Milford Sound, to the origins of bungee jumping, you will never get bored!
WHERE TO STAY
Ever heard of PADI Travel? Yep, you can now book your dives and rooms with the biggest name in scuba diving! Trust me, you want to book you dream dive trip with the most trusted name in the industry!
Click the button to start browsing dive resorts and destinations.
New Zealand is a country located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean comprised of 2 islands both marked by volcanoes and glaciations. It has a total area of 268,021 km2 (103,483 sq mi) and an estimated population of 4,834,380.
The forests are dominated by birds since it lacks mammalian predators. It is also one of the best hiking destinations of the world sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches, and fiords are gathered.
Capital city of New Zealand: Wellington
Visa requirements for New Zealand: Visa-free for 3 months for US citizens but a passport valid for 6 months is required.
Currency of New Zealand: New Zealand dollar ($) (NZD) is the currency of New Zealand.
Official Language of New Zealand: English and Māori are the official languages of New Zealand.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in New Zealand:
There are 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in New Zealand and 8 on their tentative list. Natural (2). Read more information about the sites HERE.