Bay of Plenty
MAYOR ISLAND (TUHUA) MARINE RESERVE:
North east of Tauranga Harbour. Exposed island with nationally unique geological features, kelp forest, warm temperate invertebrate and reef fish assemblages and subtropical species. Mayor Island is fairly exposed, but the reefs between Mayor and the mainland can be dived in most light winds. Visibility ranges from 11 to 24m+
NE side of mayor island. Depth: 0-20m. Good site for snorkellers above the kelp-covered boulders. Look for spotties, goatfish and scarlet wrasses. Black angelfish nest amongst the sea lettuce and sea urchins are common. Bubbles show where gas still rises from this extinct volcano’s vents. Moray eels and crayfish live amongst the boulders and Lord Howe island coralfish and sharp nosed pufferfish are often seen.
SE point Mayor island. Depth: 5-30m. Can be a bit bare on the upper rocky reefs but further down the walls it is magic. Large caves and often crayfish and various wrasses including Sandager’s. Look for the big John dory that hunt for small fish at the edge of the kelp. Colourful sponges, anemones and a good variety of nudibranchs. Not as many large fish as Tuhua Reef.
The wreck of the Taioma (scuttled in March 2000) is located on the south eastern side of Motiti Island in 27 metres. A number of fish have already made her their home, and the tug is totally encrusted with life. The reef areas around Motiti Island range from 5 to 18m in depth. Matatupu Tocks off the south end and both eastern and western sides provide the best diving.
8 km NW of Motiti island. Depth: 0-37m. Hard to get to, but well worth the effort. Often some surge in the shallows but once you descend it becomes more pleasant. Plenty of big fish here with the occasional shark, barracuda or tuna. The walls are colourful and will keep macro photographers happy if you can take your eyes off the trevally and kahawai schools that move past.
NE end Motiti island. Depth: 10-25m. Walls with cracks housing the occasional crayfish but more often moray eels. Plenty of colourful sponges and many live sea shells including tiger and trumpet shells. Lots of small fish in and around the kelp and reefs. On the deeper reefs some snapper and tarakihi plus scarlet wrasse and schools of butterfly perch.
SE side of motiti island. Depth: 20-28m. This WWII tugboat sits upright on the sand. She was purpose sunk in 2000 and is now covered in marine life. You can descend to either the bow or stern and have plenty of time to explore the whole ship. Large schools of blue maomao, demoiselles and sweep swirl around above her while leatherjackets, blue cod and goatfish feed or rest amongst the prolific anemones. Photographers should get in first before the slit is stirred up.
SE motiti island. Depth: 0-15m. This shallow sandy bay is a nursery with thousands of juvenile fish amonst the weed. The crayfish are usually small too. There are still some scallops in the bay, especially where dredges cant get them. Large stingrays are often found here so be prepared to share the scallops. Various nudibranchs on the rocks, often amongst the sponges.
East of motiti island. Depth:0-30m. This small rock is only diveable in calm conditions. Lots of cracks with crayfish and plenty of yellow, grey and speckled moray eels. Schools of blue and pink maomao and butterfly perch deeper down. Kingfish cruise through in summer. The walls have really colourful life and nudibranchs of a dozen species are common.
An active volcano, White Island offers some superb diving with a wide range of encrusting marine life and fish species. Charter boats service White Island from Tairua, Tauranga and Whakatane. White Island is renowned for its huge packhorse crays.
5km NW white island. Depth: 6-40m. You could see almost anything swim past this ultimate dive site. Schools of very large kingfish move past or you might spot a tuna or shark. Colour is added with the brilliant red diadema sea urhcins and fire brick seastars. Amongst the rocks you may spot banded coral shrimps or Spanish lobsters. Red crayfish are common and in early summer packhorse crayfish move in. The area will be protected as the Volkner Islands Marine Reserve in the near future.
SE side off the landing area, white island. Depth: 8-30m. Interesting site with long kelp and heaps of small fish. There are a few vents taht bubble up here too. Big scorpionfish sit on the bottom and some have a covering of growth from the vents. Plenty of school fish and kingfish in summer. Big speckled morays amongst the rocks and grey morays in the kelp. Some large crayfish in summer including packhorse.
Taupo provides some great freshwater diving spots and the opportunity to do a drift dive down the Waikato River.