Diving in Northland

You can find some of the most popular diving in New Zealand in the Northland area. This region boasts purposefully sunk shipwrecks and is thriving with exciting dive sites and fascinating marine life. This area is home to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, a chain of islands 22km off the East Coast of Northland. The East Auckland Current (a subsidiary of the East Australian Current) passes through the islands and creates a unique micro-climate very different from coastal New Zealand. Water temperatures in the Poor Knights Marine Reserve range from 16 degrees in winter (Aug) to 23 degrees in summer (Feb).

The islands themselves are rugged and steep, with many cliffs towering 100’s of meters that plunge into the sea. Enriched with cracks, arches, and caves, these cliffs create some epic dive sites. There are hundreds of diveable sites scattered around the reserve to suit all training levels, from gently sloping shallows to sheer pinnacles dropping to 100+ meters deep. Various charters leave from Tutukaka (roughly three hour’s drive from Auckland). These charters are typically day trips with occasional liveaboard-style excursions.

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Wildlife in Northland

The Poor Knights Marine reserve is home to some of the most diverse New Zealand marine life. The East Auckland Current attracts large species such as the oceanic manta ray and whale shark during the summer months. Large schools of kingfish, snapper, and demoiselle are typical year-round. A particularly famous fish at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve is the blue maomao, which you can find at sites such as Blue Maomao Arch in schools of thousands at times. While the Poor Knights is a popular hotspot for pelagic species, there are also large numbers of reef species such as crested weedfish, triple fins, and boarfish.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Freshwater Fishes
Trout
Eel
Crayfish
Whales
Killer Whale / Orca
Dolphins
Common Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Sharks
Great White Shark
Mako Shark
Blue Shark
Rays
Eagle Ray
Stingrays
Turtles
Green Sea Turtle
Flatback sea turtle
Seahorses and Pipefishes
Common Seahorse
Pipefish
Fishes
Ocean Sunfish
Moray Eel
Angelfish
Wrasse
Puffer Fish
Sand Eel
Conger eel
Panther Moray Eel (Dragon Eel)
Scorpionfishes
Snapper
Frogfish
Triggerfish
Damselfish
Goatfish
Porcupine Fish
Flounder
Molluscs
Octopus
Squid
Nudybranch
Crustaceans
Crayfish
Shrimps
Lobster
Crab
  Jan - Mar Apr - Jun Jul - Sep Oct - Dec
Freshwater Fishes
Trout
Eel
Crayfish
Whales
Killer Whale / Orca
Dolphins
Common Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Sharks
Great White Shark
Mako Shark
Blue Shark
Rays
Eagle Ray
Stingrays
Turtles
Green Sea Turtle
Flatback sea turtle
Seahorses and Pipefishes
Common Seahorse
Pipefish
Fishes
Ocean Sunfish
Moray Eel
Angelfish
Wrasse
Puffer Fish
Sand Eel
Conger eel
Panther Moray Eel (Dragon Eel)
Scorpionfishes
Snapper
Frogfish
Triggerfish
Damselfish
Goatfish
Porcupine Fish
Flounder
Molluscs
Octopus
Squid
Nudybranch
Crustaceans
Crayfish
Shrimps
Lobster
Crab

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