Aldermen Islands

Aldermen Islands

Text and Photography by Steve Vanbilsen

The ocean has that glass like appearance; the small ripples are only broken by the hull of the boat as she pulls up along the wharf, I jump on board ready for the day ahead. The boat is a purpose built 8m Stabi-craft and has no problem with the 12 nautical mile journey to the Aldermen Islands, doing it in a little under half an hour.

With three spear fishermen on board, the trip is seemingly quicker than the 30 minutes. The first spot is known as the Macgregors; the easiest way to picture this site is to think of a hand coming up from the bottom. A series of pinnacles start at 40 metres below, and rise into varying depths, with some breaking and clearly visible at low tide.

All on board were keen to enter the crisp clean water surrounding the Aldermens. The boys were in the water for a little over an hour when the signal came to collect them. So we reeled our lines in and went over. Once on board the catch was small, a couple of blue moki and a parore.

With the promise of a better catch it was straight back in the water after a short quick journey. The divers went in with the grace and sleekness of a seal, not a splash to be seen.

When the signal came once again it was time to collect the spearos. Things were a little different this time with the floats being hauled in and the string that followed was full of fish. The catches were quite varied with decent sized snapper more moki and parore and one nice sized kingie.

The Aldies as they are known, are wildlife reserves and therefore no landing is allowed. After a quick blast around some of the islands and closer inspection of some underwater hazards, lunch was had and everyone was keen for the last dive of the day. With the boys in the water and after some gentle persuasion it was time for me to snorkel for some paua. I was amazed at the water clarity and warm temperature, 18C. I was thoroughly enjoying myself when I heard the roar of the boat coming back and with six legal paua I was hauled on board.

I didn’t have to ask why they were back so soon, as on the deck lay a monster of a fish. One huge hapuka, Scott, the diver with the fish, was excited and was telling the tale of the fish capture … ‘Ï missed with the first shot and managed to reload, the second shot was a beauty.’

The journey home was short and there was an excited buzz on board, Dave at the dive shop had organized the scales. The hapupka weighed in at 40.4kg, which turned out to be just under the record.

Not bad for a day out. With the winter months approaching, it’s time to get serious about diving. The water gets cleaner and the visibility gets up around the 40 metre mark.

For any inquiries phone Tairua Dive Charters on 021 832 129 or Tairua Dive and Fishing on 07 864 8054, All manner of necessities are available and they can arrange a trip to suit any sized group.

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