The weather was on my side as we headed out to Elsdon Pipe on the South Coast. This site is not as regularly dived as many others – in fact I had only been here once before.
Fortunately Pete, one of our instructors, has done lots of diving in Wellington and has ventured to many underwater locations that most of us have never heard of let alone dived. Even at familiar dive sites Pete has pushed the known boundaries of the site to find new reefs to explore.
Pete’s extensive knowledge of the site, it’s terrain, marine life and potential hazards was shared in the briefing and each group of divers picked a suitable dive profile for their ability. Two groups headed over the reef through a channel and out to the gardens. A site that apparently opens up into the bay with rocky outcrops and the potential for rays, octopus and squid.
I was then lucky enough to dive with Pete who planned to show me the best of the dive site at the end of the point. The entry is a little like a cross between gymnastics (walking the pipeline like a beam) and an obstacle course with a few rocks to negotiate and an interesting entry point in the final channel.
The reef drops quickly into 5-7m with a lots of channels to swim through as you head south out towards the sand in 15m. We kept the dives relatively simple following the reef back to the beach. Pete has all the bearings that you need to follow in his head and it was nice for me to tag along, take photos and trust in the fact that Pete could lead me home again.
The marine life here was fantastic. The colour on all the walls as you swim through the channels is due to sponges, bryozoans and asidiians. Large blue cod follow you around and I had one in my face for ages as it checked me out. We would of seen at least 100 crays of all sizes. Some were so large they didn’t even need to hide in the rocks!!
Both dives were 55 minutes long – next time I have the opportunity to dive with Pete I should use 12 litre tanks (not my usual 9l). There was so much more to explore along Elson Pipe that even 2 dives wasn’t enough so we will definitely be heading back again soon.
Explorations! Experiences! Expeditions!
Pete has offered to run more exploration dives around Wellington for experienced divers. When you listen to Pete describe some of these dives you will definitely want to join him to explore the sites. These will be small group dives followed by a BBQ at the beach. The cost is $20 including the tank fill. Experienced divers are hard to define but we believe that you should have your Advanced Open Water Course as a minimum, ~50 dives and be familiar with Wellington’s dive conditions, comfortable with surge and currents and be able to dive for ~60 minutes.
The first of these dives will be run on Saturday the 25th of May. So if you think you know all of what Wellington has to offer underwater – think again and join Pete on what he describes as an ‘amazingly sexy dive!’