Mercury Bay and surrounding area

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Te Whitianga a Kupe is the original name for Whitianga which is situated in Mercury Bay eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsular and is the stepping off point to visit some of New Zealand’s best dive spots.

Black Rocks – Can often be sheltered from the swells is open to wind from the west and south. Schools of pelagic’s attract kingfish in the summer. Undulating bottom  with patches of kelp reefs. Colourful invertebrate life on the steep rock faces below 15 m. Depth from 5- 20m with great photography on the wall. This would be an intermediate dive.

Danger Rock – Off the eastern side Ohinauiti Island. It has a depth range from 5 – 30 m and is recommended for an intermediate diver. Best not dived in a swell. There can be a strong current. A nice reef with a drop off and swim throughs. Red moki, porae, leather jackets, scarlet wrasse, blue maomao, and a nice wall of coloured sponges and anemones. Good for photography.

Never Fail Reef – Off the northern tip of Great Mercury Is. Best not dived in any wind or swell.  Often strong current. The rock wall is steep and covered with kelp to 20m. Hydroids, ascidians and sponges cover the rocks below 12m. Several large caves may have big red crayfish and less often packhorse crayfish. Awesome fish life red moki, butterfish, john dory, blue & pink maomao, butterfly perch plus scarlet and banded wrasses. Big schools of kingies and baitfish in summer. An advanced dive.

Whale Rock – This is considered an advanced dive and best dived with no swell and only light winds. Often a current. In summer, large boil ups from bait fish bring in the kingfish making this an opportunity for the spear fisherman.  Drop offs and kelp reefs provide good photographic opportunities.

Te Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve – Situated to the east of Whitianga and runs from Cook Bluff to the start of Hahei Beach. Here you will find some wonderful snorkelling. Within the reserve there are several great scuba dive sites that offer the beginner and intermediate diver some wonderful diving.

Home Bay – Western Great Mercury, 3-12m. Sheltered bay, great anchorage, nice scallop bed, which is easily snorkelled, a few patches of reef, the odd stingray with goatfish & flatfish.  

Sail Rock – Top of Great Mercury Island,
0 -16m. Good flat country with weed covered boulders for crayfish. Several long channels run out from the main rock. Fish include blue maomao, red moki and the odd blue moki. Patches of colour below 12m for the photographer. A beginners dive but can be exposed to swells and strong winds.

Opito BayThis is a scallop dive with a depth of 8- 10 m. Not diveable in an easterly or northerly swell. Beware of boaties with dredges. It’s a nice clear scallop bottom but has been worked hard. There are snake eel and goat fish also seen here.

Matapaua Bay – Very sheltered from all but a southerly wind. A snorkelling spot as well as a scallop dive especially on the sand around the rocks. Occasionally you will find crayfish in the cracks and under the rocky overhangs. 5-15m a good  beginners dive.

The Mercury Islands: Are a group of large islands located east of the Coromandel Peninsula. This area has some of the most varied underwater terrain in New Zealand with reefs, sandy bottoms, pinnacles and caves, drop-offs and islands, making for some spectacular diving. Schools of blue maomao, sweep, trevally, kahawai, demoiselles, pink maomao, butterfly perch, and terakihi are common, along with some great kingfish.
Nudibranchs, sponges, corals, hydroids, anemones and ascidians cover the walls. Morays and crayfish fill the cracks. Offers activities for the hunter and the photographer.

Coralie Bay A very sheltered bay except in strong easterlies. Drops off deep with a large area of reef at the entrance to the bay. A good crayfish dive and photography with some nice wall areas for macro shots. An intermediate dive, depth 30 m.   

Alderman Islands – Close by south east of Mercury Bay is The Aldermen Islands. These Ancient volcanic formations have been a protected wildlife sanctuary since 1933, and there is strictly no landing unless a permit is held. Because of the unforgiving terrain it is suggested that you use an operator when you first begin to explore this area.   

DIVE STORES.

Dive Zone Whitianga:
Owners Darrell & Linda Bird.

Unit 7 Blacksmith Lane, Whitianga
Ph +64-7-8671580

Cathedral Cove Dive:
Owners Russ Cochrane & Wendy Helms

48 Hahei Beach Road, Hahei, RD1 Whitianga

Summary

Experience the many moods, the stunning scenery and activities of Mercury Bay. When you are not diving, just enjoy one of New Zealand’s most scenic areas. Go down the historical track and you will find the memorial of Cook’s observation of the transit of Mercury, from which the bay is so aptly named. Try the adventure activities from kayaking to mountain biking.  Visit the famous Cathedral Cove and of course Hot Water beach is a must. Take advantage of the Hot Water Pools two hours either side of low tide. Explore the wonderful coastline on a scenic boat trip.  A wide range of accommodation such as bed & breakfast, motels, backpackers and holiday homes for every budget.

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