Diving at the Poor Knights

The Poor Knights Islands are a complete marine reserve, and rated in the top ten dive sites in the world by Jacques Cousteau.

24 kilometres of the coast of Tutukaka, the Poor Knights Islands have significant meaning for the local community, they are our "turangawaewae" or our place to stand, our place that connects us. 

At Dive! Tutukaka, we don't just talk to thousands of people every year, about the importance of conservation, and respecting our marine environment; we immerse them in a powerful message of beauty, hope, and vision.

We touch their soul.

We want you to visit, and to understand that Marine Reserves work, and then to take away with you the message that we need more of them.

With over 125 species calling the Poor Knights home, the fish life is incredible. Schooling snapper, in their hundreds, break the surface feeding on krill and plankton; a behavior not recorded elsewhere. Blue maomao, and trevally numbering in their thousands often feed on the surface and cover an entire bay with their glistening backs.

Hundreds of kingfish circle in packs, koheru dart and entire schools move as one. Huge schools of pink maomao drift in the blue, porae mooch and graze the rocks, Lord Howe coralfish, golden snapper, toadstool and black spot grouper, red moki, butterfly perch, sharp-nosed puffer fish, leather jackets, and many different species of wrasse; Sandagers, green wrasse, pig fish, kahawai, lizard fish, boar fish, John Dory, and literally thousands of two-spot demoiselles.

But wait, there’s more. It is like an onion out here; every time you think you have seen a site, another layer is revealed. Smaller fish dart about on the rocks, blennies, gobies, triplefins; and in the many nooks and crannies there are mosaic moray, grey moray entwined with yellow moray, and speckled moray eels.

Nudibranchs abound, clown, gem, tambja verconis, Jason’s mirabilis. Vibrant and colourful, resting on sponges, curled around hydroid trees. The rock walls are certainly not drab; every spare inch has been painted with nature’s brush, a veritable palette of colour, with invertebrates lending vibrant contrasts.

Jewelled anemones of pinks, oranges and purples, bluebelled tunicates, ascidians, soft corals. The underwater archways hang with gorgonian fans, finger sponges stretch towards you, vase sponges, golf ball sponges adorn the rocky outcrops. The kelp forests sway with the rhythm of the water, red and green algae, starfish, sea urchins, all cling to their own niche and exist in absolute harmony and balance.

The islands rise almost out of nowhere, with steep cliffs soaring 100’s of meters above the waterline. The dramatic volcanic features of the Poor Knights are due to a massive eruption about 10 million years ago, and have left eroded rhyolitic caves and archways that are remnants of what was once a massive volcano. Separated from the mainland for tens of thousands of years, the evolution of life here is not like the mainland at all. This seemingly craggy and inhospitable landscape is also a nature reserve. Although the life beneath the surface is spectacular, it is most certainly not the only special draw card to these islands.

With a marine biodiversity that is outstanding, the flora and fauna is also breathtakingly diverse and unique. The sheer cliffs are the canvas to a play of light as the day changes, from dark brown and chocolate, to a cream almost that is blinding in the afternoon sun. Rock formations look like a goat, a nun, a frog, an Easter Island-style head, a smiling lady. Your imagination runs riot as you pass by the Lost World and can almost see a hairy footed hobbit leaping along the ridge top in this middle earth in the middle of the ocean.  

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