Best time to visit New Zealand

Scuba Diving in New Zealand

New Zealand's underwater kingdom lacks only little mermaids. Otherwise,​ the abundance of marine species is amazing

Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving

Boundlessly rich New Zealand submarine world can never be fully explored. However, a few diving spots are distinguished as the most spectacular. The first place is occupied by Poor Knights Island recognized as one of ten top world's diving sites. The area has four dive spots and boasts 125 species of reef fish, sponges, stingrays, even passing humpbacks and turtles, as well as underwater kelp forests, splendid anemones, vibrant seaweeds and a plenty of submerged caverns and arches, including the world's largest sea cave and famous Maomao Arch populated by thousands of blue maomao.

Breathtaking underwater displays are provided by the waters around White Island known for being the only active volcanic area in New Zealand. There you will find kingfish, bizarre moray eels and rare Diadema urchins roaming around Diadema Rock. Unique diving experience is assured by Riwaka Caverns offering miraculous stalactite and stalagmite formations and pink limestone waterfalls. Diving in Kaikoura waters involves mammals encounters, in particular dusky dolphin pods, sperm whales, albatross and more.

Another colourful underwater displays are offered in Aramoana Mole boasting lush underwater forests, or Fiordland National Park famous for red and black corals and multicoloured fish. New Zealand's underwater world also conceals a few shipwrecks inhabited with marine creatures. Greenpeace's flagship boat Rainbow Warrior sank in 1987 near the Cavalli Islands during the bombing in the Auckland harbour. While exploring the 40-meter long wreck, which lies 27 metres below the water surface, you will surely encounter scorpion fish, crayfish, mackerel, john dory, golden snapper and a plenty of anemones which are the most gorgeous at night. The Mikhail Lermontov Wreck is renowned as the biggest shipwreck dive within Australasia.

Near Wellington, one might find another shipwreck 24 meters down. Tui Wreck was sunk on purpose to form an artificial reef. Diving season varies depending on the location, for instance, the best time to dive around Poor Knights Islands is winter due to the best visibility, whereas Rainbow Warrior is to be observed from February till the end of June.

And the best time to dive around the White Island is summer due to spa pools. Thus, if you come anytime between winter and summer, you will definitely find a few dive spots open for the diving season.

Practical info

What are some of the top diving destinations in New Zealand?

New Zealand's scuba diving sites are breathtaking, but the top destinations are Poor Knights Island, Aramoana Mole, Fiordland National Park, White Island, and Kaikoura waters. Poor Knights Island is a scuba diving paradise with 125 marine creature species, while White Island offers varied diving spots with underwater volcanic vents. Kaikoura waters are unique as they offer the rare opportunity to view dusky dolphins pods, sperm whales, and albatross roaming around. Show more

What is special about diving in Kaikoura waters?

Creatures like dusky dolphins pods, sperm whales, and albatross make diving in Kaikoura waters unforgettable. It is prohibited to touch the dolphins, but they often playfully approach divers. To enjoy this unique experience, it is recommended to use a dry suit since the waters are cold, averaging from 12-14°C. One should be prepared to be awed by the beautiful environment of the Kaikoura waters. Show more

Which are some of the shipwreck dive sites in New Zealand?

New Zealand has many shipwreck diving sites, but Rainbow Warrior, Mikhail Lermontov Wreck, and Tui Wreck stand out. Rainbow Warrior lies 27 meters below the water surface, making it the most iconic wreckage dive spot. Mikhail Lermontov Wreck features vast marine creatures like crayfish, scorpion fish, and mackerel. However, of all the shipwrecks, Tui Wreck is unique since it is an artificial reef for marine creatures, and it is accessible all year round. Show more

When is the optimal time for diving around Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand?

The best period to scuba dive around Poor Knights Islands is during the winter months, from June to August, when visibility is optimal. Nevertheless, diving is possible year-round, but weather is more unpredictable from November to April. UNESCO named Poor Knights Islands a World Heritage site, owing to the variety of fish species in the four diving sites present, from giant stingrays to schools of fish, making it a must-dive spot for all divers. Show more

What makes Tui Wreck different from other diving sites in New Zealand?

Tui Wreck is unique for several reasons. First, it lies shallow, making it ideal for training dives. Second, the artificial reef is teeming with marine creatures, like golden snappers, john dory, scorpion fish, and crayfish. Finally, the access all year round, making it ideal for divers of all levels. The Tui Wreck stands out as a shipwreck spot from a diver's point of view and is worth exploring. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin