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11 Places to Scuba Dive in New Zealand

BackpackerGuide.NZ

What’s that? New Zealand is awesome underwater too?

Qualified divers are spoiled with different types of dives off the coast of New Zealand. Nevertheless, if you are a newbie to the dive scene there are plenty of awesome dives to do with activity providers.

The islands off the shore of the North Island attract tropical fish, whereas the fiords found in the South Island provide the perfect environment for black corral. Dive deep into the waters of the famous Milford Sound, or there is a choice of wreck dives, especially around the Bay of Islands and Northland, for more technical divers. You can even explore the ocean that attracts so many sea mammals in Kaikoura.

Just remember to dive safely and always have a dive buddy!

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1. POOR KNIGHTS ISLANDS

Poor Knights Islands is mostly known for its diving opportunities. There are four dive spots, but your diving trip isn’t complete until you do the Maomao Arch, with thousands of maomao swimming around you! With tropical currents often coming through the area, this often brings fascinating array of fish. Access Poor Knights Islands from Tutukaka in Northland.

Location: Tutukaka, Northland, North Island

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2. White Island

The waters off White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano, attracts colourful tropical marine life and larger fish. There are three dive spots: Volkner Rocks, Club Rocks and Liason’s Reef. Check out the underwater vents too in this unique volcanic location. White Island and its dive sites can be accessed from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.

Location: Whakatane, North Island

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3. Tui Wreck

This vessel was sunk for the purpose of an artificial reef, so amongst the growth there are golden snapper and an array of fish species that will keep you entertained for as long as your oxygen allows. Tui Wreck is another dive site off Tutukaka in Northland.

Location: Tutukaka, Northland, North Island

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4. The Mikhail Lermontov Wreck

If you have a go big or go home mantra, then this wreck dive is for you. The Mikhail Lermontov is the biggest shipwreck dive in Australasia. It is in Port Gore, Marlborough Sounds.

Location: Marlborough Sounds, South Island

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5. Aramoana Mole

An easily accessible dive near Dunedin, Aramoana Mole is a place to explore underwater forests and its inhabitants. You’re also likely to bump into some seals along the way too. Be prepared for the cold southern South Island waters.

Location: Dunedin, South Island

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6. Fiordland National Park

The fiords in Fiordland National Park shelter its water, keeping it calm and clear for undisturbed visibility. Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are known to have black and red coral giving you the opportunity to see wildlife that would usually be a lot deeper in the ocean. Want to know more about Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound? Check out: Fiordland National Park – Guide for Backpackers.

Location: Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island
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7. kapiti Island

Kapiti Island gave its name to the famous New Zealand cheese and ice cream brand Kapiti. It’s also famous onshore and offshore wildlife. Kapiti Island is also particularly popular for spear fishing. There you go!

Location: Kapiti Island, Wellington, North Island

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8. Rainbow Warrior

Just off the coast of the Bay of Islands is the sunken Rainbow Warrior. The Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace ship on its way to protest France’s nuclear testing in Muroroa when it was sabotaged in the Auckland Harbour and sunk in 1985. It now rests as an artificial reef in the Cavallii Islands attracting all kinds of marine life.

Location: Bay of Islands, North Island

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9. Kaikoura

The South Island town of Kaikoura is famous for attracting sperm whales, dusky dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, albatross and more! Although you can go swimming with these sea mammals, isn’t complete until you explore the kelp forests and limestone reefs of the underwater world.

Location: Kaikoura, South Island

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10. Mercury Islands

Swim amongst hundreds of schools of fish and even spot octopus (and sharks!) in the marine reserve surrounding Mercury Islands’ waters. The dive location can be accessed from Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Location: Coromandel, North Island

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11. The Canterbury

If you are a qualified diver then you have the opportunity to dive to one of the Bay of Island’s most popular dive sites, the wreck of the HMNZS Canterbury. This huge and intact shipwreck is impressive to swim through with a highlight being the helicopter hanger.

Location: Bay of Islands, The Canterbury
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