We went on a dive mission on Saturday - a reconnaissance mission basically.
Armed with a little information from the ScubaDive New Zealand forum, a copy of the SpotX Dive spots book, a little bit more information from some Dive New Zealand archives and armed with a Department of Conservation permit ... and an ache to go for a dive, Marty and I headed off down country.
We were headed for Lake Okataina which turned out to be on the other side of Rotorua.
Okay so no drama on the way there - there is really only one road into the lake, so that was the road that we took.
Driving around past Lake Rotoiti, it appeared as if we might not get a dive in at all. The wind was whipping up the lake and it was very choppy!
Even though the weather was absolutely atrocious - wind and lots and lots of rain - because New Zealand is so green, I always think it looks fresh and washed in the rain. We dodged slips and fallen trees on the way down to the lake and then we were there.
It was quiet, deserted and absolutely beautiful.
A guy came out of the lodge on his tractor - his boat had slipped the moorings and he was off to chase it.
We asked him about the pa and he told us it was at the other end of the lake. Some 7km walk from where we were or a boat ride.
Which he could have done if his boat had not slipped out into the lake.
So we decided to jump in where we were.
Gearing up in old DOC huts to keep out of the rain, we took the truck right down to the waters edge and slipped into our gear - my new 45lb unbanded bladder and jetfins were getting their first workout outside of the pool.
We were both diving twins again - Marty thought a two hour dive was in order.
Stepping into the lake, tractor man must have thought we were clowns. Double bottles, cameras - on a day like this?!
We stood in the water - a little rain never hurt anyone - and the lake did not feel all that cold. Floating, and dipping our hands and faces in the water - now it felt cold!!
We slipped out of the weed and dropped down.
On this end of the lake, 3m of freshwater weeds quickly drops off to quite a silty bottom and it got deep rather quickly.
Small freshwater fish a plenty, I didnt see any rainbow trout but the bottom of the lake was literally covered - and I mean covered in freshwater crayfish.
Some the size of my forearm and most around wrist to finger tips.
They would rear up on their back legs and their tails when we came near - it was eerie gliding over the top of them with all their pincers and feelers in the air.
In fact, I just read Binklebonks report from Taupo and think these must have been related.
40 minutes into it and there was no point in being a hero.
I looked at Marty - he signed f'ing cold and so we headed back in towards shore. I could not move my fingers on my right hand - they were just gripping the camera and I was holding my wrist with my left hand to make sure everything stayed today.
It is amazing how as soon as it gets lighter, you start to feel warmer!!
I found some old bottles - very small ones - and for the first time ever, I took something from a dive site.
These bottles are so small, I really want to know why they are there.
We stopped there for another hour and a bit - taking some photographs. With the mist and the hills and the beautiful quiet and empty countryside, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon - and we were both too bloody cold to get back in again!
We are planning on going back really soon - to get to dive on the old pa.
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