Trip Start Aug 01, 2008
150Trip End Dec 20, 2008
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Where I stayed
Whangarei Top Ten
Poor Knights S 35° 27.3' E 174° 44.6'
And Whangarei S 35° 42.7' E 174° 19.7'
At the dive shop bright and early, well early anyway. Was pleased to be issued with a decent wetsuit, as the water temperature was 15° (but pretty soon decided that I wished I'd brought my dry suit). There were about twenty of us on a decent sized boat out to the famous Poor Knights. (So named, apparently, by Captain Cook because they resembled his breakfast which was (French) toast with jam on it, known in those days as "poor knights"; strange but true.)
We stopped on the way to look at some dolphins, who weren't interested in us. Arrival at the islands was dramatic: we headed straight for a cliff, which turned out to have a passage straight through, which we took at speed. Another tunnel followed a few minutes later. The sea on the east of the islands was encouragingly smooth.
We stopped and anchored at Cave Bay, had the briefing and kitted up. There were I think nine of us doing "straight" diving as opposed to training or snorkelling; we were all going in a gaggle, but loosely buddied-up. My buddy was Aaron (I guess that's how he spells it; pronounced "Oren"), who had about 30 dives.
Aaron and I went in to check buoyancy, corrected it and then waited in the water about fifteen minutes while everyone else got sorted. (I'd expected to get out again, but that would have caused congestion.) Result was that I was cold before we got going, so had a less pleasant dive than I should. The dive itself was very reminiscent of boulder coves in Donegal or Dingle; plenty of life, good vis but not dramatic as such - especially as the topography above is so dramatic. The nudibranchs made up for that, and there were dramatic scorpion fish and morays. 47 minutes at 19 metres. Not bad, but definitely Moylaun 1 Cousteau 0.
Shivered for a couple of hours, then it was time to move to South Harbour. There, Aaron and I decided to dive as a buddy pair, which worked better. We crossed the "harbour" and dived the arch, whose full name will come to me in a minute. That was very good; very colourful, lots of fish and much life on the rocks, excellent vis and numerous nudibranchs, including several of the gem nudibranchs that I was looking out for. Despite the cold and me being slightly sick, we crossed back underwater and spent the rest of the dive at the outer end of "Calypso Cove" named after you know whose boat. Thence back to the boat, less cold than the first dive. 45 minutes at 14m.
More colourful than the average Moylaun Rock dive; nudibranchs and a big crayfish; pretty dramatic, but not in the "blocks of flats" league for topography and much less adventurous. I'd say a score draw.
Some time later I discovered a badly-bruised toe that must have happened while I was too numb to feel it. By then I'd stopped at the Whangarei site and started to walk into town for dinner. I coped but am now regretting it.
It turns out to be "Jazz and Blues" festival time in Whangarei but I only listened from the street; I don't think I'd stay awake long enough to really enjoy it. By the way, unlike many English place names which have silent letters, some Maori ones have invisible letters. In the case of Whangarei, the "F" is invisible.