Top of the South Diving

Top of the South Diving

Text and photography by Brent Daniells

How about a dive this weekend? Yep! After a couple of days of south-westers and a forecast of light north-northwesters our intrepid band of three decided upon Port Gore instead of D’urville Island.

Setting off at 6 am, the fog we encountered around Rai Valley came as a welcomed sight as it usually means light winds in the coastal regions. Duncan Bay in the Pelorous Sound was our launching point to head up the Sound past Maud Island on lovely flat calm water.

Through Guards Pass, between Forsyth Island and the mainland, past Alligator Head and Cape Lambert we entered Port Gore. Half way across, towards spot x, we noticed a line of dirty water, just what every diver hates to see. With the lack of rain in the top of the south we were rather perplexed as to what had caused it.

Anchored on spot-x, the one metre visibility dive was quickly abandoned and we moved off in search of clean water. We stopped at my next favourite site in between Cape Jackson and the wreck of the Lastingham, where three ridge lines provided excellent reef structures beneath the surface.

Eight to 10 metre visibility, and even better on an incoming tide. We cruised along looking for the usual things we Kiwi divers do, ie FEELERS! The reefs start at the shoreline and go down over the 20 metre mark with the rock formation being steep sided with numerous vertical cracks, some deep enough that even with a cray hook one could miss dinner. Pulling my head out of a hole to see where my dive buddy was, I was surrounded by a large school of baitfish circling around my bubbles. What a magnificant sight!

Cruising along to the other ridges, in and out of the rocks in search of our dinner and towards the end of the dive (isn’t it always the way?)we found a couple of crays. We didn’t take all we saw as I believe that if you do, it would be a long time before they come back to populate the area.

Next stop Walkers Rock. We put the boat in close to the rock in the lee of the slight current. One could see the bottom clearly from the surface. Once in it was straight to the bottom in 10-12 metre visibility and heaps of fish life.

The landscape was typical of an area of strong currents with weed and kelp growth being short and stumpy  and rocks looking like they had been carved – which they had, by the current – leaving lots of cracks and holes for crays to hide in.

We didn’t need to dive deep as there was plenty to see in the shallows. The red moki were very tame, almost allowing you to stroke them and we were being followed by a large number of cod, the occasional Maori chief and lots of wrasses – all looking for an easy feed.

Anyone who has dived this area will tell you it is safer to dive at slack water as the current can gain momentum very quickly. The current was picking up again so it was time to go. We had eight nice crays between us and while we could have easily caught our limit, we had enough.

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