Tutukaka, New Zealand
Despite the mainland being covered in cloud, the Poor Knights Islands had blue sky and sunshine. They are rated amongst the top 10 dive sites in the world and are remarkable for several reasons: A warm current from the Coral Sea, north of Australia, makes it warmer than the rest of New Zealand so there is a mix of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate marine life. Volcanic eruptions have shaped the islands into underground caves, tunnels and archways. There are over 100 named sites to dive at. The area is protected by a nature reserve above water, and a marine reserve below water and some of the lifeforms cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. The islands are 24 km/1 hr boat trip from Tutukaka. Our first dive was at ‘Marys’ Wall’. The wall went up to 20m deep, and within the last 10 minutes of my dive I saw a huge long tail ray (about 6ft long by 3ft wide), a mosaic moray eel, a hugh cray fish and scorpion fish as well as bright coloured nudibranchs. Denise only had a small tank and ran out of air after just 30 minutes, so she missed out. Back on board after our dive we travelled inside a hugh cave, so large that last Saturday, there was a band playing inside it! On the roof of the cave, growing in 24hr darkness were ferns that, due to the specific cave conditions, grew no where else in the world. Our second dive was at ‘Middle Arch’- A large archway shaped by volcanic lava. We explored it by kayak before the dive. At a depth of 7m, was an air bubble cave. You could actually re-surface and have a chat with your buddy, and breath in slightly stale air, whilst still being 7m below sea level!