Diving The Bay of Islands

Paihia is the heart of the Bay of Islands, and from this small tourist town you can access some of the best diving in New Zealand.

The diving in the bay of Islands is sub tropical, with the water temperature ranging from 15c in the winter to 22c in late summer.

The Bay of Islands is lucky that the East Auckland Current washes down the coast bringing tropical fish like Lord Howe Coralfish, and Toadstool Grouper to Cape Brett. During the summer you can see massive Short-tail Stingrays in Cathedral Cave, large schools of Blue Maomao, and big Pelagics like Kingfish.

The encrusting life is also very colourful, with the walls covered in Jewel Anemones and Sponges. In winter months the visibility can be astounding, and Furseals often visit our sheltered waters.

The Bay of Islands also has arguably the two best wreck dives in New Zealand, with the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior, and the HMNZS Canterbury. The Rainbow Warrior was bombed in Auckland harbour in July 1985 by French agents. In December 1987 it was sunk in the Cavalli Islands just north of the Bay of Islands. It sits on a sandy bottom at 26m, with the top of the wreck at 19m.

At only 45m long it is easy to do a dive around most of this wreck. It is well encrusted with a kaleidoscope of Anemones and Sponges covering the hull. Living inside the wreck are hundreds of Big-eye Cavefish, and large Snapper patrol the decks. With the history of this wreck it is a must do for divers from around the world, and will always hold a special place in New Zealanders hearts.

The HMNZS Canterbury was the last of new Zealand's Leander class frigates to be sunk in November 2007. This wreck is massive at just over 113m long. It sits in 37m with the top of the wreck at 13m. With such a range of depth available and purpose sunk for diving (with many entry points cut into the hull) the Canterbury has become a real divers playground. Even after such a short time it is covered in spectacular Pink Jewel Anemones and long Yellow Finger Sponges.

The fish life has taken off since the imposing of a rahui in Deep Water Cove. A rahui is a temporary reserve, so with a complete ban on fishing around the wreck, divers are enjoying large schools of Sweep, Demoiselles, and Snapper when diving the Canterbury.

With miles of rugged coastline and sheltered waters from almost any wind direction, the Bay of Islands is a divers playground. Paihia Dive has been operating charters in the Bay of Islands since 1978, so for advise on anything diving contact them today. http://www.divenz.com

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