The New Zealand “All Blacks” might be what the country is most synonymous with, but in recent years the little island nation has carved out a sterling reputation beyond their haka-chanting rugby team. The country’s reputation as a top scuba diving destination has been on the rise and that’s primarily because the “Land of the Kiwis” is blessed with a vast underwater complimented by enthralling coastlines. If your hobby lies in exploring the beautiful treasures beyond picturesque coastlines, then you’ll be interested in our compilation of the top 10 scuba dives in New Zealand.
1) Tui wreck
Once bearing the title of HMNZS Tui, the one-time Hydrographic research vessel now lies at the bottom of the ocean beaten down by crystal clear waters and schools of fish who have found a more-than-humble abode in the gigantic scrap.
Tui was offered to Tutukaka Coast Promotions a year before the turn of the millennium for the sole purpose of creating an excellent dive attraction. And that it did with the array of blossoming fish species calling it home a sign that one man’s trash is indeed another man’s, or more accurately, fish’s treasure.
2) Goat Island
Before you keep on giggling at that name, you should know that Goat Island actually has very noble origins and that it’s frequently featured at the leading end of tabloids unraveling top 10 scuba dives in New Zealand. It was named as such by Early European seafarers who’d leave goats for those stranded on the landmass. While the four-legged furry animal is cute and that story touching, our interest today lies with the expansive marine reserve that resides within the island’s borders.
Necklaced by a diverse land and seascape of underwater cliffs, sand flats, deep reefs, and rocky shores, Goat Island is home to the country’s oldest marine reserve. There you’ll find anemones, shellfish, sea squirts, sponges, crayfish and snapper varieties alongside a number of impressive underwater features.
3) Poor Knights Islands
We’ll have to have a word with whoever was giving out these names but, nonetheless, this archipelago is probably the sovereign island’s most well-known hotspot. The chain of moon-grey sandy islands is indescribably gorgeous serving up a total of four coveted dive spots that heavily feature in discussions about the top 10 scuba dives in New Zealand.
The underwater life seems straight out of a storybook as eccentric shaded nudibranchs pace around waters also claimed by large kingfish, morays, and maomao. You’ll also likely encounter the odd manta ray, mola mola, and turtle that come visiting during summer when the water is not too cold. Aside from that, you may also bump into orcas munching down a mid-afternoon snack.
4) The Coromandel Peninsula
There are few greater crimes in life than visiting New Zealand on a diving escapade and failing to make some time for this breathtaking peninsula. It harbors a delightful number of idyllic islands all providing unique and memorable diving experiences to suit all kinds of taste buds.
Crevasses and kelp double up as cozy living rooms for the blue maomao and trevally which also share occupancy with massive boarfish, porcupine fish, moray eels, demoiselles and dozens of other species. This diversity is the major reason why scuba diving New Zealand and Coromandel, in particular, is a must-do.
5) White Island
What’s not to love about White Island? Turquoise horizons wherever you look, dramatic peaks all around and, of course, lovely white clouds puffed out by a simmering volcanic vent. It goes without saying that we wouldn’t recommend climbing up the slopes for an evening marshmallow roast.
What we would definitely recommend though is exploring Mother Nature’s jostling aquarium in the surrounding waters. The constant volcanic activity has festered a buzzing tropical marine life where you’re going to be heavily outnumbered by the schools of fish going about their business. Being a volcanic location and all, you’ll also have the exclusive pleasure of touring underwater vents.
6) The Rainbow Warrior
This flagship vessel was inadvertently turned into an artificial reef when it was sunk by the French Secret Service in Auckland in 1985 during a past-century assassination that took the life of Portuguese-Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira.
It was refloated not long after for investigations and sank once more at Matauri Bay where it has become a popular wreck dive deserving of a place in any countdown of the top 10 scuba dives in New Zealand. You can look forward to a kaleidoscopic show of grateful crayfish, moray eels, kingfish, John Dory and mesmerizing jewel anemones luring passersby with the appeal of enchanting shades.
7) Aramoana mole
Ever seen a seal do a backstroke (And no, cartoons don’t count)? If you haven’t, you’re likely to catch the playful creature doing so off the shores of alluring Aramoana Mole. Besides furry sea creatures eager to make a new friend, there are also tones of other underwater goodies to expect.
A lush forest has taken root below the surface bringing with it plenty of sea creatures the highlight of which has to be the native hooker sea lion.
8) Milford Sound
Also offering much in the way of curious seals and naughty dolphins, Milford Sound is desirable for its in and out-water treasures. The heavenly scenic appeal extends to its shallow waters which are endearingly demarcated by obsidian coral trees to realize a lovely maze of walls.
The Jason mirabilis nudibranch is undoubtedly the star of the show with the backup crew comprised of fiery sea dragons, staring leatherjackets and hordes of demoiselles.
9) Bay of islands
Well, it’s pretty straightforward this one, it’s a group of islands, upwards of 140 to be exact, with many bays. Quantity aside, the quality of diving options here are to-die-for with the HMNZ Canterbury one of two notable rustic vessels to explore and “The Rainbow Warrior” being the other.
The pair have within their remains ancient chapters of the country’s long history and will be music to your ears if you consider yourself a history buff. If not, the riveting beauty of reefs dominated by electrifying anemones and a generous lineup of fish will certainly tickle your fancy.
10) Wellington Region
The nation’s capital is worthy of a shout out as well thanks to a multiple-course meal of rugged coastlines against which a barrage of healthy waves crash providing a gateway into a brimming underwater world of radiant wrasse, pipefish, seahorses, and starfish.
There are multiple shipwrecks on offer as well with Taputeranga Marine Reserve also worthy of a place on your to-do list. That said, night scuba diving plays a huge part in Wellington securing a slot on this list of the top 10 scuba dives in New Zealand. That aspect is arguably the region’s strongest selling point in a city lauded for many other things including endearing architecture.
If you’ve been putting off a trip to the “Land down under”, now you have ten good reasons not to wait any longer.