If you asked divers where one of the places in New Zealand that they wanted to dive is, people normally say either Poor knight Islands or Fiordland.
We decided to choose the Poor Knights and 9 divers from Christchurch meet at Auckland airport where we had arranged transport north to Russel. On our way north we experienced the Auckland traffic delays, had a flat tyre before making it to Northland Dive where we would be based.
Everyone was excited about the next 5 days of diving we had ahead of us. The plan for the first two days of the trip was to dive locally from the Northland Dive base which included, the wreck of the Canterbury and local northland reefs.
The obvious difference from diving around Christchurch and Banks Peninsular (apart from visibility) was the fish life. You could see the big Snapper from the boat and when you entered the water, we saw schools of Blue Mao Moa and Kingfish cruising past. The first dive was a check out dive. This was an opportunity to make sure all our gear was feeling good and fine tuning our weights and dive setup. We had two divers using side mount equipment and everyone else on single tank setup.
The Canterbury is a fantastic shipwreck which sits upright on the ocean floor making navigation around the wreck relatively easy. For those that have been on one of the Dive HQ Trips to the Mikhail Lermontov can relate to this as everything on the Lermontov is on its side.
The best thing about the Canterbury Shipwreck is that it was sunk for divers and has made an awesome artificial reef attracting fish life all around it. We ended up diving the Canterbury twice and on the second day this was one of my most enjoyable dives of the trip, we started at the stern and heading towards the bow swimming along the length of the wreck through one of the corridors on deck level 2.
On the morning of day three we got aboard the Sea Spy, where we were to spend the next 3 days diving off and sleeping on the boat at the Poor Knight Islands. As we arrived at the islands the fish life had gone up another two notches, seeing bigger Snapper, trevally mouthing on the surface and big schools of Blue all seen from the surface.
Once we entered the water you soon realised why this was one of Jacques Cousteau’s top 10 dive locations in the world. Each dive offered something unique and memorable. Blue Maomao Arch, where massive schools of Maomao just sit forming a fish arch, massive drop offs into deep blue water where if you are as lucky as Steve, Mark and Morne you will see a shark cruise underneath you. Cathedral Cave, where you see large groups of fish huddled inside and a whale jaw sitting at the back of the cave. This dive was very memorable for the fact that when Paul and I left the cave entrance we got caught up in massive schools of Blue and Pink Maomao, Demoiselle, and bait fish while on the fridge were Snapper, Kingfish and Trevally. All this was happening at 5m to the surface.
In all we completed 11 dives at the Poor Knight Islands and 4 dives around the Northland dive base. For me personally though by far the best dive of the trip was diving the Northern Arch. What made it so special was the sting rays that were stacked up about 10 deep moving backwards and forwards under the arch. This is an occurrence that happens every 4 to 6 years and the stingrays will be there for about 3 months. Unfortunately, the photos do not give the dive its full justice.
I cannot wait to return for our next trip booked from 28th September through to 4th October. Who wants to join us?
See you out diving soon,