Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top Diving Sites in New Zealand

You've tried the exciting water sports such as water rafting, jet boat rides, and kayaking. Now it's time to get closer to the ocean – much closer. New Zealand has a wide variety of diving locations. From the North Island to the tip of the South Island, keen divers can find subtropical waters and milder, more temperate conditions in which to pursue their passion. Visibility in the water ranges from 10 metres to 40 metres on good days, and the water temperature is around 20°C in the summer and 13°C in winter. The best diving seasons in New Zealand are summer and autumn, between January and July.

Photo: coralreefphotos.com

Marine life is diverse and sometimes completely unique to New Zealand. Divers can swim with dolphins, fur seals, and get close to whales. Some locations even allow divers to harvest seafood such as rock lobster, scallops, and other shellfish.

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Goat Island Marine Reserve is located on Goat Island, which is a little over an hour from Auckland. It is an excellent shore dive location, with a varied marine life, shallow waters, and very safe diving conditions, with depths ranging from 9 to 18 metres, and a variety of terrain such as deep reefs, underwater cliffs, canyons, and sandflats. Many professional divers who dive for hunting crayfish and shellfish train first at Goat Island Marine Reserve. The Reserve is famous for its marine life and, as such presents good opportunity for enthusiastic undersea photographers.

Fiordland and Stewart Island

Take a jet boat ride to the Stewart Island and go diving around the bays and beaches around the Island, which one of the most picturesque diving locations in the South Island, brimming with kelp forests and giant abalone.

The Poor Knights

One of the top diving spots in all of New Zealand, the Poor Knights has been a marine reserve under government protection since 1981. The Poor Knights is a subtropical reef system that provides a wide variety of marine life, such as fish and sponges, for divers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Aldermen Islands

The Aldermen Islands are another popular diving site. This group of islands, including Hongiora, Ruamahua-iti, The Spire and Ruamahua-nui Islands, are part of an ancient volcanic range that has since fallen deeper into the sea.

White Island

White Island is one of the very few places in the world where you can actually dive in a live volcano. This volcano has been active for centuries, but it is quite safe. Located 50 kilometres off from Whakatane or the Bay of Plenty in the North Island, White Island, as New Zealand's only active marine volcanoe, is a not-to-be-missed diving destination.

Fresh Water Drift Diving

There are a few rivers in New Zealand where divers can engage in freshwater drift diving. The Pupu Springs are ranked within the top ten freshwater diving sites in the world. For beginners, the Riwaka Caverns provide an easy freshwater diving experience.

Wreck Diving

There are a few famous wreck diving sites in New Zealand. The HMNZS Waikato has been cut with entry and exit holes and is a suitable location for divers to practice wreck diving. The Tui and Rainbow Warrior are also popular diving sites, the Tui being a former US Navy ship. The large Russian cruise liner, Mikhael Lermontov, is one of the largest and best diving wrecks for both beginners and experienced divers.

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