If you seek an underwater adventure, discover the world of mermaiding in some of the most beautiful diving spots in the world.
Officially, this magical pastime is known as mermaiding. Mermaiding is a global movement that combines freediving with wearing a mermaid tail (a type of monofin).
The tail serves a practical purpose by helping divers glide through the water, but it’s also symbolic of the movement’s transformational ethos and commitment to ocean conservation.
And this is why New Zealand loves its mermaid and mermen friends. Their sustainability principles align with New Zealand’s value of kaitiakitanga(opens in new window), which means guardianship and care for the environment. As kaitiaki, New Zealanders are all about preserving the stunning marine environments for future generations.
An ideal mermaid habitat
New Zealand is a mecca if you’re interested in mermaiding. Its unique geography, with subtropical waters in the north and subantarctic waters in the far south, make its oceans a hotspot for biodiversity.
New Zealand also tops world rankings for our large number of native marine species (about 8,000) which have evolved in relative geographic isolation, beginning around 83 million years ago when Aotearoa separated from other land masses.
If shipwrecks are of interest, head to the Cavalli Islands to explore the wreckage of the Rainbow Warrior. Or head to one of 44 marine reserves, such as Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve, home to a rare brachiopod normally only found in 500 million-year-old fossils.
And cold-water lovers can freedive in the Milford Sound to see deep-sea black coral, just 10 metres below the surface.
Mastering mermaid tails
If you're new to mermaiding, taking an introductory course is a great way to start.
Students master the art of holding their breath, swimming with a tail, and reading ocean conditions. Plus, and most importantly, they learn how to respect and care for marine life, so the only thing they leave behind is a jet stream of eco-friendly bubbles.
More experienced merfolk can complete their education with advanced courses, eventually working their way up to professional level by becoming an official PADI Mermaid Instructor™ or Mermaid Instructor Trainer.
Aotearoa's extensive coastline and network of waterways provide ample opportunity for amazing underwater viewing. However, many people are unprepared for potential dangers.
Try not to swim or surf alone, or when cold or tired.
Swim between the flags. Beaches with potential hazards are often patrolled by lifeguards, who put up yellow and red flags. Between these flags is the safest place to swim. Listen to advice from life guards.
If you have children with you, watch over them at all times.