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New Zealand - Bay of Island

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Nov 23, 2003

I just pass my first diving test recently and am planning on a family vacation to New Zealand. And I could fit in a day of diving into my schedule.

It seems to me that Bay of Island is a popular place. However, since this is the first time I'm going to be there, I'm wondering if any of you could offer anyhelp in my planning. For instance, what kind of day trips are offered? Where could I join them? Cost?

Also, would it be a good idea to bring my own equipment (I have suit & mask) or shall I rent them?

Also, what could my family could do to kill time while I go diving?

Thanks in advance. Any other suggestions/advise on other issues would be mostly appreciated.

Originally posted by chocolate

Also, would it be a good idea to bring my own equipment (I have suit & mask) or shall I rent them?

Also, what could my family could do to kill time while I go diving?

Bring your own suit and mask..
Have your whole family dive, that's the ultimate time killer. ;)

Don't know anything about New Zealand though, but diving trips are always great.


It’s a real pity that you only have one day available for diving because if you start from Auckland and head north, there is some superb diving available but you would need a few days to take it all in. There is a wealth of information available at http://www.divenewzealand.com including information on dive charter operators and places to stay.

I would suggest that on the way up to the Bay of Islands (BOI), you stop Goat Island, which is a marine reserve about 1.5 hours North of Auckland. The shore diving here is incredible, the site is shallow unless you swim for a long way and there is a great variety of marine life, with a dive shop close by where you can rent gear or get tanks filled. You need to look for a little village called Leigh, Goat Island is about 3 minutes away and is clearly signposted from Leigh. You should rent snorkeling gear as well for the family because there is so much to see even from the surface. They can always go for a ride in the glass bottom boat if they don’t want to get wet. You can drive to Leigh, do one or 2 dives, have some lunch and then drive north to the next stop without having to stay over for the night.

I think your next stop should be Tutakaka. This is where boats launch to visit the Poor Knights, which are rated as one of the top 10 divesites in the world. I have had some of the best dives in my life here and I can’t recommend it enough. Tutakaka is only another two hours North from Leigh and there is plenty of accommodation available, ranging from campgrounds to motels. The biggest dive operator running to the Knights is Dive Tutakaka, who have about 4 boats so they can cater for advanced or beginner groups. There are 2 wrecks close to the town as well, which are well worth the dives. Their website is http://www.diving.co.nz/poorknights.htm and there is plenty of information including pricing. There are a lot of other operators who are also worth talking to. Bruce from the boat CrazyDiver is a great bloke and his boat is really quick. His site is http://www.nzdive.com

The BOI is a very popular holiday destination and the advantage of being in the BOI is that it’s very geared up for tourists, so there would be plenty for your family to do, such as dolphin and whale watching or high speed boat trips out to some spectacular offshore Islands. NZ has such great scenery that your family could also be kept amused just driving up the coast while you dive.

There is some excellent diving in the BOI, with the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior being a historical highlight. A Google search for accommodation and Paihia and Bay of Islands will get you the contact details of places to stay. I have stayed at the Haruru Falls resort, near Paihia with my family and I was very happy there http://www.paihia.com/accommodation/haruru-falls-resort/haruru-falls-resort.html

Dive charter operators up there include:
Bay Dive www.diveandfish.co.nz
Dive North www.bay-of-islands.co.nz/diving/divenorth.html
Paihia Dive (no site) email them at divepaihia@xtra.co.nz

As for your equipment, as Tuomo says bring your own even if just to avoid ill fitting wetsuits but bear in mind that the water temperature may be very different to what you are used to depending on the time of year and where you learnt to dive.

PM or email me and I’ll be happy to help with any more questions you may have.


scuba or freedive

Ash posted some great info - but sounds like your talking scuba? Do you want to freedive?
In Tutukaka there are some great freedive sites... a wreck in 15 - 30m of water, so you don't even have to be experienced.
Just thought I'd check.
For scuba go to the Poor Knights
That's a real top spt, especially if you've just started out diving.
The Dive! Tutukaka operator is one of the best diving companies I've ever been with.
The wrecks (Tui and HMS Maori) are very nice as well. The maori is more suitable for beginners.

I've been snorkelling at Goat Island, visibility was very disappointing (2 meters top) last january, but it allows for easy access from the shore. I think depth increases as you go around the small island.

The wreck of the Rainbow warrior is amazing. Well worth a visit, but you'll need a 2 hour boat ride to get there.

If you want to stick to freediving, go with a "Swim with the dolphins" trip in the Bay of Islands. They'll provide you with a lot of gear, but NO FINS or weights! So make sure you bring your own. It's amazing to snorkel & freedive with the bottlenoses.

Water temp: north island some 16 - 20 degrees celsius
South island: prepare for a whopping 12 degrees
The freediving at the Knights is also amazing. I managed to fit in some incredible freedives there while assisting on a technical diving course in February. There are so many sites to dive at the Knights that you can cater for every level of diver from novice to trimix and a freediver can have a ball at all of them. As for Goat Island, well it has those bad vis days but when the vis is good, it can be one of the most tranquil and lovely sites you could ever hope for.

BTW – jvoets, the wreck that you are thinking of is the HMNZS Waikato.


my mistake (too early here in the Netherlands to be thinking straight)

The Maori is in the harbour of Valleta, Malta,
the Waikato near the harbor of Tutukaka, NZ, just some 20.000 kilometers away.

of which the Waikato is the nicer wreck to dive on.
Poor Knights

Thanks people,

It seems like Poor Knights is the place. Now, how's the temperature of the water like there? I have a 3mm wetsuit, is that going to be enough? (I'm from HK)

Thanks again.
Re: Poor Knights

Originally posted by chocolate
It seems like Poor Knights is the place. Now, how's the temperature of the water like there? I have a 3mm wetsuit, is that going to be enough? (I'm from HK)

Depends how tough you are, the water temp at the moment according to Dive Tutakaka is 17 degrees C and climbing. It should get to 20+ in January but I don't recall seeing any more than 22 degrees at the Knights.

I personally wouldn't be happy with a 3mm scuba wetsuit in 17 degrees but then again I use a drysuit year round for scuba diving:)

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