Choosing dive sites in New Zealand

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globalbabe

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I'm heading to New Zealand next month from 18-31 December and aim to fit in as much diving as possible while catching up with my family. So I'm trying to decide on where to go, based on the time I have available and general proximity to Auckland, my base. For those with experience diving throughout New Zealand, can you advise on the following sites:

* Poor Knights Islands (3 days)
* Goat Island Marine Reserve (2 days)
* White Island (2 days)
* Mikhail Lermontov (2 days)

I'm thinking that's probably a bit ambitious to do them all, especially since it's also over the Christmas Day and Boxing Day period, when most ops are closed. And given there's a bit of travelling time getting between Tutukaka, Whakatane and Picton, if I have to drop one, which should I? What are your top 3 picks out of the 4? Have I allowed enough time for each site? More time, less time?

Also, what are your thoughts on exposure protection in late December? I have a 7mm long and was wondering whether to add a 5mm shortie plus hood over the top or a 3mm long underneath. Most of my diving experience is in tropical waters but have done about 20 dives in mid-winter on Ningaloo Reef and Great Barrier Reef (around 21 deg C) and found that a bit chilly with just a 7mm.

(Note: I did my PADI Wreck, Deep and Nitrox certs on the Zenobia wreck in Larnaca, Cyprus - totally loved the 10+ dives I did on it, so am keen to have another large wreck experience, this time with an underwater camera).
 

NCBabs

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Hello again it's NCBabs

the water temp will be around 60F or 17C so if you were chilly in 7mm 21C then i would suggest extra layer if not a dry suit, better to be too warm than not enough. My two picks would be Poor Knights and Lermontov and yes the travel time might be a issue. For the Lermontov flying from Auckland you can get direct flight into Blenhiem or from Wellington a island hopper flight with Sound Air over to Picton the dive operator can pick you up at either location. Note that the island hopper is limited on weight so charges will apply on over weight limits max passengers is 12. For dive operators Poor Knight's "Dive Tutukaka" Dive Poor Knights Islands. Diving Poor Knights Islands and shipwrecks HMNZS Tui and Waikato with Dive! Tutukaka New Zealand. / Dive! Tutukaka, Poor Knights Diving and for Lermontov New Zealand Wreck Diving in the Marlborough Sounds, Diver Training, Liveaboard and live ashore expeditions. PADI accredited scuba diving and dive tourism instruction

I would go ahead and email them to check availbility sense it is coming up quickly.
 

diveChiq

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Hi! I don't know how I missed this post before hand - but anyways ...

It's am ambitious timetable not just for this time of the year but for any.
If you are basing yourself in Auckland then your travel times are as follows;

Auckland to Tutukaka (Poor Knights) 2.5hrs. The boat ride to the Knights is an hour.
Auckland to Leigh (Goat Island) max 1 hr.
Auckland to Whakatane (White Island) 3.5hrs. The boat ride to White Island is about 2 hours.
Auckland to Wellington/Picton - well you would fly.

The Poor Knights and Goat Island are definitely diveable in a 7mm - with hood and gloves. The water is warming up but it is taking a little bit longer this year. The current temperature up north is 17 degrees. If you want to dive in a dry suit, you will need to do a pool orientation and we can rent them out through my shop. Otherwise your 3mm underneath or some merino or a Sharkskin will be fine. Its sunny so that helps!
A day at Goat Island would probably be sufficient. A shop that I teach part time through runs 'Scuba Saturday' trips where you can be guided by divemasters and instructors and we will help you with gear and transport. They are shore dives and quite a fun day.

For operators -
Tutukaka - Yukon Dive Charters and Dive! Tutukaka
Goat Island - Global Dive
White Island - Dive White
Mikhail Lermontov - Go Dive Malborough

If you have any more questions, please let me know!
tara
 

AndyNZ

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I've also been a bit slack, not been on SB for a while.

Personally, I wouldn't spend 2 days at Goat Island.... it's nice, but it's not that nice.

If you can, try to book a White Island liveaboard trip with Baker Marine Charters (Fishing and Diving White Island, New Zealand - Fishing and Diving Home). As Tara pointed out, the time out to White Island is a long trip for a day trip. If you go with John Baker, he will probably take you to Volkner Rocks.... which is IMHO the best diving in the world. None of the day charters will go to Volkner as they are scared by not being able to anchor. In all seriousness, I would drop all of the other diving you have planned for two days at Volkner Rocks.

The biggest challenge with the Lermontov will be finding a charter who will go. I know people who have camped out for a week in Picton waiting for there to be enough people signed up for a day trip. The diving is excellent, it is one of the world's must-do wreck dives - but logistically it is a bit of nightmare. Tara's suggestion of Go Dive Marlborough is your best option, Brent runs a good trip.... but mostly his trips are booked out by groups and there is little room for day trippers.

Another suggestion for your list would be to spend a couple of days with Northland Dive. Shane & Julia run a combined accommodation/diving setup that is just fun. They have a nice wreck up there too, the Canterbury.

You can't go wrong with the Poor Knights and there is also the wreck of the Waikato just offshore. My personal favourite charter, particularly for the wrecks, is Dive Tutukaka.

I am off work for the next couple of weeks. If you want a guide for a trip to the Knights and/or the wrecks up north then give me a shout.
 

Frosty

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Hi globalbabe-I'm not disagreeing with Andy regarding goat island itself--the diving is ok but a bit shallow
BUT I suspect you might be mixing up diving at goat island with Goat island divers. -Goat island divers or outer reef charters run trips mid week and the weekends out to Little barrier island,the Mokahinaus,hen and chicks and a couple of other dive sites. darn good diving and the boat is IMO pretty well fantastic.
The mokes are in the same gulf stream as the poor knights and I'm told the vis and diving is very similar to PN -the mokes are just not as well known. try calling 0064 9 4226267 and ask for brian.
Also you might want to give the guys at Dive HQ westhaven a yell.0064 9 3073590 Mike the owner is a really nice guy and they have really ramped up the number of dives they run.
Im not as abailable as Andy but if ya need an auckland DB I'm happy to tag along
 

globalbabe

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Hi everyone - Thanks for the incredibly helpful replies - much appreciated! As I'm travelling with elderly parents, who want to spend as much time as possible with me (I haven't seen them in 18 months and haven't been back to New Zealand at all for 8 years), that rules out liveaboards and pretty much ties me up each evening. I also had to fit around their Christmas plans so that also limits my options.

In the end, I've managed to schedule 6 days of diving, with a few days off in the middle for Christmas, plus a few days at the end in Wellington to catch up with old friends:
* 3 days at the Poor Knights with Yukon Dive (20-22 Dec)
* 1 day at the Mokahinaus with Goat Island Dive & Snorkel (23 Dec)
* 2 days at White Island with Dive White Island (27-28 Dec)

If anyone wants to join me on any of these days above, yes, I'd love a dive buddy, otherwise I guess it's instabuddy time!

The Mikhail Lermontov will be there waiting on my next return trip :) If I can line that up to coincide with a GUE Fundamentals course, that might just entice me back sooner.
 

diveChiq

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Sounds like a pretty good plan - all the dive teams will take care of you :)

Tell Noel and Jo that I said hi. Actually I might even see you up there on the 20th
 

markmantei

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Good call on yukon dive charters. You'll know what I mean when you see the other dive boat with 30 or so divers and you look around at the five other divers on your boat. You'll get more personal service from Noel and Jo than the larger ops can provide to all their divers. And fewer divers on the site make for a more enjoyable dive. Poor knights are definetly some of my favorite dives to date. I'm sure you'll enjoy.
 

Frosty

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GB-Just before christmas is a bad time for me -but I muight be able to swing the 23rd.-PM your real name and I'll see what I can organise-
i dive with 12l steels so If I can swing the time off I'll double up
 

stnichols

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I'm happy I spotted this thread, it saves me from asking the same questions. I'll be coming off the Ice (McMurdo Station) sometime in Feb. and want to get some diving in. Its a bit hard to schedual anything until I get my off Ice dates set.
 
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