3 of New Zealand’s Top Diving Sites

Home to waters full of unique sea life as well as wrecks, springs and fiords, New Zealand offers a diving experience that’s worth crossing the world for.

Here, you’ll find opportunities for world-class diving no matter what your level of experience. New Zealand’s wealth of underwater vibrancy is exhilarating – there’s stunning diversity in subtropical reef systems and marine life.

What’s more, there are hundreds of world-class scuba diving sites, so you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to go. The water and the weather here is temperate, and divers can choose from the subtropical underwater world of the famous Poor Knights to fascinating ship wrecks or the dramatic fiords of Fiordland.

At First Light Travel, we’re passionate about diving in New Zealand. We’re in the know about secret spots and the best ways to experience them. Needless to say, allowing us to assist in planning your diving adventures in New Zealand is a great way to get the most out of your time here. 

Below are a few of our favourite locations for the ultimate kiwi diving experience.

Poor Knights Marine Reserve

Voted the best sub tropical diving in the world by Diver magazine (UK), the Poor Knights – north of Auckland - is the jewel in the New Zealand diving crown. Here, brightly coloured reef fish dart amongst sponges and anemonies while giant kingfish, koheru and trevally are also commonly seen. Great visibility – some days up to 30 metres – offers both great viewing and photography opportunities.

The aquatic landscape of the Poor Knights is also fascinating - made up of the eroded remains of a group of volcanoes that erupted 11 million years ago; steep cliffs fringe the underwater islands, plummeting nearly 100 metres below sea level in many places. Underwater archways start above the water’s surface, dropping down to depths of 45 metres, while underwater caves and caverns are found everywhere. The Poor Knights can be dived year-round, although the best visibility is found during New Zealand’s winter months of May to September.

The Rainbow Warrior wreck

A few hours’ north of the Poor Knights in the Cavalli Islands lies the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior, a controversial Greenpeace flagship. Home to an ever-growing artificial reef of marine life, the wreck hosts jewel-coloured anemones as well as schools of Golden Snapper, Kingfish and John Dory. It’s one of the world’s most famous ship wrecks and for good reason – its story is fascinating. Bombed in Auckland Harbour by the French Secret Service, the wreck was moved to sit off the Cavalli Islands two years later. Its mix of fascinating heritage and rich underwater life makes the Rainbow Warrior a compelling diving experience.


A dive site for the more experienced, Fiordland offers a unique aquatic environment that stimulates the growth of fascinating underwater species. Here, a light-absorbing fresh water layer restricts algal growth and allows deep water, light sensitive species to thrive in shallow waters. This results in an unusual diving wonderland of black coral, red hydro-corals, tube anemones and around 160 species of both warm and cold water fish.

Find out more about New Zealand's most exciting dive sites here.

Does diving in New Zealand sound like an exciting addition to your vacation? Let First Light Travel do the leg work. Because we’re kiwis ourselves, we can recommend our picks of diving courses and unique dive sites to explore. We’ll tailor your New Zealand vacation to suit exactly what you’re after – leaving more time for you to enjoy New Zealand’s exciting underwater adventures.Contact us directly or find out more on our website

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