Because the country is home to some spectacular underwater seascapes, it is also popular for snorkelling and diving in New Zealand. You can wreck dive and come face-to-face with fascinating marine life and complex ecosystems. If you want to try something different, try kayaking and snorkelling.
Remember to bring your diver's certificate. In case you're new to diving and want to experience the miracles of the marine world, tutorials and certifications in scuba diving are easily accessible, as are organized diving tours which show you the best places for your first dive.
Best Time for Diving in New ZealandDiving is a year-round activity in New Zealand, however, the peak seasons are different in both North and South Island. The peak season to visit the diving spots in the North Island is from January to June. Water temperature varies around 15ºC in winters and 21 ºC in summers. The South Island diving sites are best visited from November to April. Temperatures are a little colder in South Island waters ranging from 8 ºC in winters and to 18ºC in summers.
Best Sites for Diving in New Zealand:
Poor Knights Islands
Located off the coast of Tukatuka, Poor Knights Island is one of the best and most famous places to go scuba diving in New Zealand. You have a choice of four diving spots, however, one which you should not miss is the Maomao Arch. Maomao Arch is a spectacular dive site where you will have thousands of maomao swimming around you as you enter the waters. Under the water surface, you can explore the various caves and passages formed due to the erosion from the currents. You will also come across an enthralling display of fish in different shapes, sizes and colours.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park is known for its tranquil and clear water that offers undisturbed visibility. The park contains Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound that have black and red coral giving you a perfect chance to explore the marine life of New Zealand that is usually found much deeper in the ocean. The marine life includes spiny sea dragons, octopus, black corals, snake stars, dwarf scorpionfish, etc. It is one of the most unique places to dive in and will surely be a memorable experience.
One more fascinating spot for the best diving experience in New Zealand is Tui Wreck. As the name recommends, a huge vessel was sunk at this site to act as an artificial reef. Get a glimpse of the golden snapper and a wide cluster of fascinating fish species in the dark blue oceans at this diving spot. A huge wreck, you can explore motor rooms, cabins, weapons and other areas.
Goat Island is another spot to take a dive in New Zealand that is home to a wide array of marine life like Golden Snapper, Blue Cod and Crayfish. The waters of this island allow a casual swim and the jump spots have a depth of around 9 to 18 meters. Underneath these waves are different environments ranging from rocky shores that uncover during low tide, to submerged cliffs, canyons, deep reefs, and sand flats as well! You will be astounded to see that every one of these habitats is home to its own creatures, for example, sea squirts, anemones, seaweed forest, sponges, and shellfish. This is the best scuba diving spot in New Zealand as it offers you a chance to get very close with the undersea life and also provides you with some great opportunities to capture the underwater life on your camera!
If you are interested in wrecks or wish to notch things up a little bit, this wreck dive is perfect for you as it stands out amongst other diving spots in New Zealand. Mikhail Lermontov is an incredible spot to go scuba diving or snorkelling in New Zealand's South Island. Lermontov, a twin buoy lies on its starboard side on the ocean bed and is viewed as one of the biggest diveable wrecks man has found. This beautiful liner has been submerged for over 25 years and houses sea perch, carpet sharks, octopus and an occasional kingfish. Taking a guide along is better because there are chances you might get lost in the wreckage!
Only 22 kilometres from Dunedin, Aramoana Mole is an excellent diving spot where you can explore underwater forests and its inhabitants. The Mole is a man-made rock wall created to help protect the pier. While you are on your way here, you are likely to spot seals swimming in the ocean. The water of the South Island is generally cold so do not forget to carry the appropriate gear to make the most of this experience.
The excellent South Island town of Kaikoura is noted for its inhabitants like the dusky dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, sperm whales and albatross. Dive into these waters and experience the joy of swimming with these magnificent ocean mammals. If you think that was exciting, wait until you come across the kelp forests and limestone reefs that are amazingly delightful. Kaikoura is an extraordinary spot where you can enjoy, unwind and appreciate scuba diving in New Zealand. Make sure to dig into a plate of crawfish before you head back. You will surely enjoy the whole outing and will always remember this one.
Rainbow Warrior is situated off the banks of the Bay of Islands. It was originally a Greenpeace ship which was heading to protest against France's nuclear testing in Muroroa. However, it was quelled and it sank in the year 1985 at the Auckland Harbour. It currently rests as an artificial reef at the Cavalli Islands at a depth of 26 metres, drawing in a wide range of marine life like jewel anemones, dolphins, rays and sharks.
Tips and AdviceIf you are planning a trip to go diving in New Zealand, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, just for precaution since no one can tell what could happen and when you may require it (god forbid! But mishaps do occur!). We recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers with quality insurance and medical assistance service. You could almost dive the world with just one long trip to New Zealand.
The following are the important tips that will surely make you have the best scuba diving experience in New Zealand:
- Listen to the instructions of your guide diligently.
- Try to go swimming more frequently once you decide to take a scuba diving lesson.
- Don’t take a heavy meal before going for a scuba diving lesson.
- Check your gear properly before heading out for the dive.
- Know your gear and be friendly with it.