28 June 2022 | Written by Bachcare Holiday Homes

Top Scuba Diving Locations in New Zealand

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New Zealand is a land renowned across the world for its natural, wild beauty. The rolling green hills, the jagged mountains, and the untamed beaches all enchant both residents and visitors alike. But New Zealand has so much more to offer than what you can see on its surface. It is a place full of undersea wonders, and if you’re a scuba diver, you can be one of those who gets to explore its depths.

Let’s check out some of the best scuba diving spots in New Zealand.

Bay of Islands Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Wikicommons

This location is a unique subtropical area next to New Zealand’s North Island, which is made up of over 140 islands. This area is where you can explore the famous Greenpeace wreck, the Rainbow Warrior, which sank in 1985. Several other shipwrecks are waiting for you out here, and these undersea structures are havens for diverse wildlife, such as dozens of subtropical fish species which attract dolphins, whales, and seals.

If you need a respite from the water, you can also head to see amazing bioluminescent glow worms in the Kawiti Caves.

Lake Taupo Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Wikicommons

Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s great inland sea, famed for its sparkling and crystal clear waters. Thanks to a volcanic eruption almost 30,000 years ago – this is the largest lake in New Zealand, with a surface area the size of Singapore!

Scuba divers can expect to see beautiful natural rock formations and a variety of fish – most notably local crayfish, catfish, freshwater mussels, and rainbow trout.  

The whole Taupo waterfront is filled with hiking and biking trails that lead to breathtaking views and hot springs.

Tutukaka Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Wikicommons

Tutukaka is one of the warmer sites to scuba dive as it receives warm currents from the Coral Sea. Due to the warm waters and sunny weather, tropical fish and coral species thrive here. You can admire the beauty and colors of these coral reefs, and in the summertime, you might even be lucky enough to spot migrations of manta rays, sea turtles, and humpback whales.

You can visit purpose-sunk wrecks at Tutukaka and the Tui and the Waikato. Many vessels like these sunk to create artificial reef anchors for coral to populate. The coral has come back, and sea plants grow in abundance, making perfect habitats for golden snapper and seahorses, and sometimes even eels.

Poor Knights Island Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Wikicommons

This area is a group of islands in New Zealand’s North Island. Some say this site is the best in the country, and it’s one of the oldest marine reserves in New Zealand, so it’s had time to prosper without the interference of commercial fishing or coastal development. 

There are exciting land formations for you to explore here, such as tunnels and grottoes. If you have an underwater camera, these are once-in-a-lifetime photo ops.

You might even catch a glimpse of orcas or dolphins in the area if they get curious enough. The coral reefs here look like a garden of wildflowers, but the colors come from fish and coral rather than petals and leaves.

Coromandel Peninsula Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Flickr – Alex Schwab

With sights to thrill divers and snorkelers alike, the Coromandel Peninsula near Auckland is not to be missed. The water has excellent visibility and an abundance of wildlife available for you to photograph, spearfish, or simply observe. The caves and crevices are home to kingfish and crayfish, and you may even encounter a moray eel – so watch out!

This area is quite extensive and great for scuba diving, including many islands such as the Alderman island group and the Mercury group. These islands hold many unique creatures on land, but they also have many remarkable species in their waters, including nudibranchs, scallops, crayfish, and kelp forests. Sea turtles and rays pass through the bay, as do marlin and humpback whales.

Aramoana Mole Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Flickr – Alistair Paterson

Here’s a contender for the best South Island dives. While the North Island locations mentioned above play host to tropical and subtropical species and warm waters, be prepared for a chillier experience if you head to Aramoana Mole. This area is a breakwater built in the bay of the city of Aramoana in the 1950s, and it’s easily accessible from the city.

New Zealand seals love these chilly waters, and you’ll likely see them lounging about or searching the underwater forests for tasty morsels.

Milford Sound Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Wikicommons

Milford Sound sits in Fiordland National Park on the South Island. It’s hard to believe this magical place is real. Glaciers carved their way across the land more than ten thousand years ago, creating the fjords that plunge into the sound’s waters. This area, along with other fjords in the national park, has populations of dolphins and fur seals, and the little blue penguins found only in New Zealand.

Milford Sound’s alluring waters are home to rare aquatic species like black coral, which typically live in the ocean’s depths. The ecosystem at Milford Sound is unique, so you can observe this particular coral yourself without relying on an ocean documentary.

Many tourists visit Milford Sound as part of a day trip from Queenstown, or surrounding towns.

Kaikoura Scuba Diving

Image Credit: Flickr – Bernard Spragg. NZ

Kaikoura is the rocky peninsula where you want to be if your dream is to see marine mammals up close. These waters of the South Island attract colossal sperm whales, dusky dolphins, humpback whales, fur seals, and even orcas. The population of plankton attracts humpbacks and the prey the others eat, such as anchovies, crabs, urchins, and small sharks.

These large marine mammals appear in some of the abovementioned locations. Still, you won’t get as close anywhere else, and your chances of seeing these magnificent creatures are much higher at Kaikoura.

Final Thoughts 

Keep in mind that to rent scuba gear (it’s available all over the country — there’s no need to burden yourself by bringing your own), you must have the proper certifications. It is against the law to dive without training and certification, and it’s also deadly. 

To make your New Zealand dive trip the best one yet, make sure you follow the rules and regulations. Don’t forget to enjoy the natural wonders around you, and make sure to leave nothing behind.

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