The Poor Knights Islands in Northland are one of the world's top dive locations.

Northland & Bay of Islands
Poor Knights Islands, Northland & Bay of Islands

Beneath the waves at the Poor Knights Islands, an ocean of diving has been compressed into a relatively small area. The Poor Knights are home to the Rikoriko Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the world.

From turbulent sunlit waters and kelp forests on the upper reaches of the tumbling ‘giant staircase’ to the dark waters of the islands' many caves, the Poor Knights offer an extraordinary variety of underwater experiences.

There are sponge gardens and gorgonian fields inhabited by a myriad of fish, shellfish, urchins and anemones. The islands’ famous arches are fascinating to explore, with countless animals competing for space on the walls. In the warmer months, squadrons of stingrays can be seen cruising the waters of the archways.

Many of the subtropical fish living in the marine reserve are found nowhere else in New Zealand. They include subtropical species such as spotted black groper, mosaic moray and Lord Howe coralfish. The fish are known for their friendliness and make visiting the marine reserve a very memorable experience.

Nursery Cove and some of the shallower parts of South Harbour are great venues for novice divers. Experienced divers can find spectacular and challenging dives all around the islands. Some dive operators have equipment on board to give non-divers an underwater experience.

Diving and snorkelling are the best ways to enjoy the underwater world of the Poor Knights. A number of charter dive boats operate from Tutukaka Harbour, which is 30 kilometres from Whangarei.

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