Diving in Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough is well known for its wine and its beautiful sounds. Despite making up only 3.9% of New Zealand by land mass, Marlborough accounts for over 10% of its coastline giving it a multitude of dive sites. Marlborough has everything from protected marine reserves to your favorite cray spots and a stunning selection of wrecks from the 1800s up to the 1980s and more. One of the reserves, Long Island, was established almost 30 years ago and abounds with New Zealand marine life. Due to the length of the sounds and sheltered landscapes, the weather has a minimal effect on the diving conditions there. The Mikhail Lermontov wreck is undoubtedly the jewel of the sounds and is often quoted as one of the best dive sites in New Zealand. The Lermontov was a 176-meter-long Russian cruise liner and weighed in at almost 20,000 tonnes fully loaded. On a cold and rainy evening on the 16th of February 1986, this ship hit the rocks in Cape Jackson and sank. All 720 passengers and crew, except the crew engineer, abandoned ship and were rescued by vessels in the area. This tragedy resulted in the creation of one of the largest diveable wrecks in the southern hemisphere. Water temperatures in the sounds range from 11 degrees Celsius in the middle of winter up to 20 degrees Celsius in the middle of summer. The average summer temperature is 17 degrees Celsius. Some sites are accessible from the shore, but most require a boat.

Dive Sites to visit in Marlborough Sounds

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