Bay of Islands – As the name suggests, dive sites are plentiful in the Bay of Islands. Spectacular wreck diving can be had on either the HMNZS Canterbury or the Rainbow Warrior (Greenpeace’s flagship vessel, bombed by the French Secret Service). Both wrecks are now encrusted in stunning colourful jewel anemones, abundant in fish life and beautiful reefs. This area is rich in New Zealand history and a must see for all visitors.
Poor Knights Islands – As a protected marine reserve, there is spectacular underwater topography including drop offs, walls, caves, arches, tunnels and an abundance of marine life. The sub-tropical climate and ocean currents mean the archways are teeming with blue maomao, snapper, kingfish, morays and brilliantly colored nudibranchs and often frequented by tropical species such as turtles, mola mola and manta rays in the warmer months. It truly is a photographer’s dream. With opportunity to see orca feeding on the many sting rays that inhabit the area, the Poor Knights Islands is a unique experience that should be on everyone's bucket list.
The Coromandel Peninsula - Dotted with islands, this coastline provides many healthy dive sites. Hiding inside the kelp and crevasses you will find trevally and blue maomao. In the summer months large kingfish school with giant boar fish, john dory and tarakihi. A great variety of other marine animals inhabit these waters from moray eels, stingrays, wrasse, demoiselles, porcupine fish, snapper and many other vibrant species.
Goat Island, Auckland – New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve features a variety of environments, including rocky shores, deep reefs, underwater cliffs, canyons and sand flats. Look for blue cod, snapper, crayfish, seaweed forests, sea squirts, anemones, sponges and shellfish.
The South Coast, Wellington - The South Coast is a favorite for Wellington shore divers. Rocky reefs and copious marine growth makes the area an attractive breeding ground for a wide variety of marine life.
Long Island, Marlborough Sound - Named by Captain Cook, this marine reserve is teeming with life and home to giant crayfish, curious blue cod, wrasse, triplefins and leather jackets - just to name a few.
Mikhail Lermontov, Marlborough Sound – Sunk under mysterious circumstances in 1986, this Russian cruise liner now lies fully intact on her starboard side. Diving on the Mikhail Lermontov is a fantastic experience, with many areas accessible without requiring penetration. For those with the training and experience this dive site will provide many opportunities to explore her every corridor and deck.
Kaikoura, South Island - In the shallow waters off the rocky coastline you can dive with playful New Zealand fur seals in the kelp beds. Dusky dolphins are residents here and sperm whales can be seen regularly.
Aramoana, Dunedin - Nestled amongst the macrocystis kelp forest lies several scuttled ship wrecks. Divers can explore the sponge encrusted wrecks whilst looking for seahorses, nudibranchs, eels, crayfish and carpet sharks. Diving here is made unique by the seven gills sharks that occasionally swim by, curious cod, greenbone, blue moki, wrasse and perhaps the most special of visitors - the New Zealand hooker sea lion. The area is also a voluntary marine reserve to ensure it remains at its best for divers.
Milford Sound - This spectacular area of Fiordland is stunning both above and below the water. Dive through a blurry fresh water layer to discover crevasses full of crayfish, extreme drop offs and enormous boulders. Always keep an eye on the deep water where a pod of dolphins or playful fur seals are often seen. Brightly colored spiny sea-dragons stand out underwater with schools of demoiselles, leather jackets and the much photographed jason mirabilis nudibranch. Rarely seen in such shallow waters, giant black coral trees break up the inner fiord rock walls to create a dream location for divers.
Stewart Island - The famous kelp forests feature seals, sea lions, seahorses, blue cod and is a favorite among macro photographers.