Ask any Kiwi diver where they want to explore and the ‘Poor Knight Islands’ and ‘Fiordland’ undoubtably arise.
This Easter we decided to visit the Poor Knights Islands.
Nine excited Christchurch divers met at Auckland airport, on route to our next stop – Russel. Our travels up north were eventful, we experienced traffic delays and a flat tyre before making it to our home base at Northland Dive.
Everyone was excited about the 5 days of diving ahead of us. The plan for the first two days was to dive locally, exploring the wreck of ‘The Canterbury’ and the local northland reefs, followed by 3 days staying on a boat in the Poor Knights Islands.
The obvious difference from diving around Christchurch and Banks Peninsular is the abondance of fish life. You could see big Snapper from the boat and when you entered the water, you saw schools of Blue Mao Moa and Kingfish cruising past.
The first dive was a ‘shake down dive’ as they called it at Northland Dive. This was an opportunity to make sure all our gear was set up correctly including fine-tuning our weights. Two of the divers were using Hollis side mount equipment and everyone else was using single tank setups.
The Canterbury is a fantastic shipwreck which sits upright on the ocean floor making navigation relatively easy. Anyone who has visited the Mikhail Lermontov shipwreck will be able to understand the benefit this provides, as everything on the Lermontov is on its side.
The Canterbury Shipwreck was sunk for divers and it has created an awesome artificial reef which is abundant with animal life. We were able to dive the Canterbury twice and on the second day we started at the stern, 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 on board the Sea Spy, where we were to spend the next 3 days diving and living onboard. As we arrived at the Poor Knights Islands the fish life increased – we saw big Snapper, Trevally mouthing on the surface and big schools of Blue Moa Moa.
Once we entered the water we soon realised why this is one of Jacques Cousteau’s top 10 dive locations in the world. Each dive offered something unique and memorable. We enjoyed seeing massive schools of Blue Mao forming a fish arch, large drop offs into deep blue water and we even saw a good sized shark.
Diving the Northern Arch was breath-taking. Seeing the sting rays stacked up about 10m deep moving backwards and forwards under the arch is a sight to behold. This happens every 4 to 6 years and the stingrays stay for around 3 months. Unfortunately, the photos do not capture the sull extent of its beauty.
At the Cathedral Cave we saw groups of fish huddled together and there was even a whale jaw sitting at the back of the cave. This dive was memorable for Paul and Richard, as they got caught up in a massive school of Blue and Pink Mao Mao, Demoiselle, bait fish, Snapper, Kingfish and Trevally. All this was happening at 5m below the surface!
I cannot wait to return to this beautiful place on our next trip booked from 28th September through to 4th October. Who wants to join us?
See you out diving soon.