Aldermen Islands

Aldermen Islands

text by Colin Sinton • photography by Pete Mesley

New Zealand’s Aldermen Islands –  a 12 nautical mile trip out from the coast. They are made up of four large islands and six smaller ones. These islands have plenty of rocks and reef systems for the diver to explore.

The  Aldermen Islands beckoned. It is a 12 nautical mile trip out to the Aldermens which are basically made up of four large islands and six smaller ones, the islands have plenty of rocks and reef systems for the diver to explore.

As regular visitors to the eastern Coromandel, recent weeks of strong offshore winds had curtailed our dive excursions to these outer islands and we were hanging out for some Aldermen action. The scenery, visibility and hunting opportunities the Aldermens offer are first class.

First stop was Stingray Rock named for the large sting rays that grace it during the summer months. The pinnacle rises from 35 metres and peaks at eight metres below the surface. Our initial disappointment with the visibility was soon forgotten as we descended past the 20 metre mark and the water clarity improved to a good 20 metres allowing us to view the abundance of marine life.

Greeting us on the bottom were huge schools of mackerel, blue maomao and some massive red moki. A half hearted search for crayfish amongst the many holes and crevasses resulted in a couple of bugs, however viewing the scenery and enjoying the dive was our main goal as recent inshore dives from our own boat had been plagued by poor visibility.

Remaining bottom time was spent watching the schools of mackerel and snapper circling in the distance, interrupted by a large John Dory which seemed quite content just ‘hanging out’. At 35 metres our dive was over all too soon. Ascending the pinnacle for a brief safety stop a closer inspection of the top of Stingray Rock revealed plenty of fish such as pink and blue maomao, as well as Spanish lobster hiding in crevasses, and bright nudibranchs dotted here and there.

Our second dive was slightly restricted due to the increasing north-west swell and 25 knot winds. Fortunately there are heaps of places to find shelter and Brian (Tairua Dive Charters) introduced us to a dive spot with a maximum depth of 12 metres. Fantastic swim throughs, overhangs and an abundance of colour made for a fun dive with which to end our charter. The cracks and caves went back as far as the eye could see, which should have made for excellent crayfish opportunities so we were surprised by the lack of them. However Brian told us that at certain times of the year they are present in large numbers depending on water temperatures and currents.

Accompanying us on the dive were sandagers wrasse, trevally, and blue maomao these species seeming to enjoy the light currents created by the swell running through the narrow guts and channels. The fantastic colour and terrain allowed for a pleasant 40 minute dive.

Returning to the boat we were greeted with 12 nautical miles of white caps between us and a hot shower however the Stabicraft handled the conditions with ease and at a good 19 knots we were soon back at Tairua Dive and Fishinn well satisfied with our trip.

We are looking forward to our next trip to do the spectacular wall dives and feel sure we could be diving out here for years without getting bored !

Tairua is a fantastic place to dive out of, the options are endless. The local dive shop owned by Dave and Donna is well set up and the atmosphere is relaxed. Brian’s Stabi is custom built for diving with plenty of storage and space for up to six divers on extended trips. All and all a great day’s diving left us anticipating a return trip as soon as possible.

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