The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s great holiday destinations that
offers a variety of dive sites that has something for everyone; from shipwrecks, off shore islands, local beach dives and of course the cray and scallop dive or just the opportunity to take in photography.
The sub – tropical climate of the Bay of Islands gives you the opportunity to explore, enjoy the beach and water as well as explore 144 different islands in the Bay. And then there is the diving.
Nine pin (Tikitiki) Island. Situated on the Northern side of the Bay. Depth range 5 – 30 metres. Exposed to winds and swells from the north and east and the possibility of a strong current. Big schools of pelagics can be found here. Colourful walls of invertebrate life with many nudibranchs. There are also some great caves and crevices for crayfish.
Howe Point. Exposed to the easterly swells and the easterly and southerly winds. You will find small schools of kahawai and mackerel in the summer. The kelp forests hide some good crayfish habitat and below 15 metres there are patches of invertebrates and reef fish with the occasional snapper. A good dive for the beginner.
Black Rocks. This site is mostly sheltered but not good in strong winds and the water can be very dirty after heavy rains. There is quite a lot of school fish activity in the summer. Occasional small crayfish in the cracks.. Below 15 metres you will find butterfly perch. A good beginner’s dive.
Redhead (Okahu Island). A great crayfish spearfishing dive and a good snorkelling area with the opportunity for some good photography. This would be considered an intermediate dive. Exposed to easterly swells and wind with some strong current. Good broken reef areas for crayfish. Schools of kahawai, trevally and mackerel. John Dory, banded perch, and giant boarfish near the bottom. Depth 5m – 25m.
Urupukapuka Island. There are several dive spots around this island ranging from beginners to advanced. With an advanced dive on the West Albert Bump where you will find crayfish and a great photographic dive. A deep pinnacle exposed to any swell. Visibility can be poor and there is some current. Hope Reef being an intermediate dive you will see kingfish on the outer side and a scallop bed on the edge of the reef. Between Urupukapuka and Rawhiti in the South Albert Channel which is sheltered, here you will find a typical scallop bottom. Watch for boats and dredging. The best diving is on the exposed eastern side of the island and there is good snorkelling close in.
Bird Rock. Exposed to northerly winds and easterly swells this is an advanced dive. You will find crayfish and experience big schools of fish and predators. Even bronze whaler, mako, blue sharks and occasionally marlin. The walls are fantastic for macro photography with nudibranchs and banded coral shrimps but keep your eyes out for big fish moving fast past you. The depth ranges from 10m to 35m and is a good spearfishing spot.
Deep Water Cove. The Canterbury was sunk as a dive site just as you enter into Deep Water Cove. She was sunk on 3 November 2007. She sits straight up in 37 metres. The shallowest point is the mast at 14m and 22m to the top of the bridge and 28m to the back of the stern deck. Here is the opportunity for you to experience some good wreck diving. This is considered an intermediate dive. Fish schools and resident fish have now established themselves making this an interesting dive. Dive operators are your best option here.
Summary: Experience vibrant Māori culture, giant Kauri trees, unique heritage, marine paradise, hidden gems within a subtropical climate. You’re never more than 40km from the coast! The Bay of islands was where the first European settlers arrived and where the famous Treaty of Waitangi became the founding document for our new nation. An easy trip from Auckland, with accommodation on offer from back packers, great campsites to the high end market. It’s your choice! There are a number of great dive sites in easy access from the beginner to some more advanced diving. Operator’s run dive trips to the Canterbury and trips are available to the Rainbow Warrior. Originally sunk by French Commandoes on the 10 July 1985 in Auckland Harbour it was later moved to its final resting place in the Cavalli Islands to become an artificial reef and a great dive site.
Visiting the Bay, you can enjoy the local restaurants and cafes after a great day of diving. You can walk through the unspoilt and legendary Kauri forests looking the same as they did when our early settlers first arrived.
The dive sites mentioned are only a few of what is on offer in this area. With 144 islands this is a diver’s paradise to explore. Thanks to Paihia Dive for their input to this destination.
Owners Craig & Lisa Johnson
Williams St, Paihia.
Freephone 0800 107 551
Phone 09 402 7551
Dive North: Dave & Sue Wadsworth
1512 Sate highway 10, RD 3 Kerikeri
Phone 09 4025369
Dive Zone BoI: Kelly Weeds & Mie Kawai
5 Klinac Lane Waipapa Bay of Islands