After several failed attempts to head north this year we took advantage of direct flights to Kerikeri for a weekend of diving in the Bay of Islands.
Craig from Paihia Dive collected us from the airport and after a quick game of Tetris with 8 divers and 16+ bags we were off to Paihia where we dropped off gear at our accommodation, grabbed some lunch and got organised for our first dives.
Loading up the trolleys and meandering down the main street as you head down to the boats is a unique small town experience.
We managed to sneak in not one but two afternoon dives at Black Rock & Te Oahanga Point. A great introduction to Northland Diving and plenty of marine life we don’t often see here in Wellington including Silver Drummers, 2 Spot Demoiselles, Blue Maomao, Yellow & Gray Morays, Scorpionfish and some very large Packhorse Crays!
Saturday was the day we were looking forward to with sunshine and a dive on the Rainbow Warrior from the beautiful Matauri Bay.
After some history on the wreck and a dive briefing we were good to go. This was the first dive on the warrior for most of the group and it did not disappoint. It is a small wreck but one that gives you time to really explore and take in both the wreck and the marine life that now inhabits her.
We then got to explore a site called The Tunnels in the Cavelli Islands – while most of us missed the first swim through the second more than made up for it – long, full of fish and lots of cool marine life up on the walls. There were also a large number and variety of moray eels at this site.
On Sunday we headed to Deep Water Cove to dive the Canterbury Wreck. Sunk in 2007 this ex Navy frigate is a great dive for all levels – so good in fact we dived it twice. We spent the first dive exploring the stern, with barrier nets covered in Jewell Anemones, the helicopter hanger and 1000’s of Big Eyes sheltered in the Coning Tower. We spent the second dive swimming through the bridge and visiting the foredeck – keeping an eye on our no-decompression times of course.
Our final dive was at Putahataha Island – a reef dive with Painted Moki, more massive Packhorse Crays, a cavern full of Big Eyes and a roof covered in Bluebell Tunicates. Apparently 1 diver was also lucky enough to spot and Eagle Ray but as he failed to tell his buddy (me!) it doesn’t count.
We stayed in Paihia at the Mousetrap – no mice fortunately but a great location and large lounges for catching up as a group for breakfast or before heading out on the town – well out for dinner at least. We had laughed at our host when he said the fire would be on from 7pm but it was great to finish dinner return home to have the fire going as we relaxed at the end of a long but exciting day.
With 7 dives over 3 days, a chance to explore Paihia and to enjoy the largest ice creams you have ever seen in the winterless north we had a great trip and can’t wait to return in 2022.