Mercury Bay—the great bay named by Captain James Cook, and the home of resort town of Whitianga—is renowned for its stunning coastline, offshore islands, white sandy beaches and crystal waters. It really is one of New Zealand’s magic locations.
The dive sites here are suitable for first time divers through to the very experienced. Mercury Bay is an ideal playground for everyone, with many offshore islands and the outstanding Te Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve.
Photographers have on offer a wide range of photo opportunities from macro to wide angle shooting. Or put on gloves and try your luck at catching a crayfish, or collecting the renowned delicacy – scallops! (during season.)
Above water, the islands’ spectacular cliffs climb vertically from the sea, remnants of an ancient volcano chain and making many fascinating dive sites that vary in depth and bottom topography. In some places the cliffs continue straight down beneath the water. And some of the walls display brilliant anemones, hydroids, nudibranchs, soft colourful sponges and spiny sea urchins.
Most dive sites are populated with big and small boulders, cracks and crevasses, swim throughs, and caves. Kelp and seaweeds of many colours spread over the sea floor. The fish life is many and hugely varied, from schools of trevally and blue maomao to large kingfish during summer months.
An array of other animal inhabitants feature: moray eels, stingrays, wrasse, demoiselles, porcupine fish, snapper and many other vibrant species. Occasionally Orca swim here in pods of between four and eight chasing the abundant stingrays. But their smaller dolphin cousins are the most common marine mammals witnessed; they frequently visit divers in the area. And on occasion, especially during winter months, New Zealand fur seals take up residence on some islands, keen players in the water.
All these islands offer sheltered bays too, including safe anchorage for overnight stays. There is always somewhere to go and enjoy your time on the water, no matter what the wind does.
While you’re here, the Coromandel Peninsular calls out for a road trip. Exploring the many beaches and secluded coves is a must. So when you visit put aside plenty of time for delving as well diving! Check out the ton of history, from kauri forest to old gold mining sites. And delightful eateries to tempt you.
Dive Operator/Charter: Dive Zone Whitianga
Darrell and Linda Bird
10 Campbell Street
Phone: +647-867 1580
Open 7am–7pm, 7 days during the summer months