Just had a fabulous wee break with friends up in the Bay of Islands, basing ourselves in Tapeka, which is 5 mins north of Russell. A big thank you to the weather gods - where the weather forecasters reported we would be inundated with rain and generally crap weather for most of our trip, we were blessed with sunshine with a few scattered showers instead as the worst of the weather passed before we got there.
Day 1 (Anzac Day)- we launched at Russell boat ramp and went to the HMS Canterbury. This was my 4th time diving this wreck and am now getting a little more adventurous in where I will investigate. Viz wasnt as good as it has been on other dives, but was to be expected I guess with the weather leading up to our trip. Once we descended to about 15m it opened up, but was still a bit mucky. Still, we got 10-15mtrs so happy with that. We got there early so were the first on the wreck for the day, and were rewarded with loads of fish hanging around including several scorpionfish, moray and the usual suspects. Took the others through a few swim-throughs I had been on before with guided trips, and then started to explore a bit more. Four of our group of six hadnt done the wreck before, so they loved it. Favourite moment was going into a little hold area I havent been before and coming face to face with a good sized puffer fish. Me and the young lad I was buddied with (friends son) tried getting some pics, but alas they didnt turn out too well. He didnt seem at all bothered by our presence. We did have a bit of a scare as the young lad was a bit headachy and nauseous after his dive so we headed back in to Russell to take him to the med centre as a precautionary measure, but he perked up and felt fine by the time we got close, so we stopped for a spot of fishing before another dive.
Our next dive was in a little bay closer to Russell. Water was a lot murkier here, only about 8-10m viz. One of the guys got a massive Paki, and his son caught his first red (but it was fraction too small so was sent back.
Day 2 - we took the ferry and drove the boat up to Matauri Bay to dive the Rainbow Warrior. I was the only one who had done this before so guided them all through it initially then we split up into buddy groups. Some of us going inside the wreck, others choosing to just takes in its external beauty. Again, no-one else around yet for the day so enjoyed loads of marine life. Viz was a good 15-20mtrs so we were happy as pigs in muck! The boys were excited to explore the wreck and find the scorpion fish and morays. One also found a massive, cool empty shell on the sand about 10-15mtrs away from the wreck.
Another spot of fishing, followed by a dive on the back of an island near the Warrior. Great viz, and a nice dive site.
Day 3 - today was spent in the Bays near Russell again. Harakeke Island and Putaki Island. Similar dive sites, viz only up to 10mtrs. We were hunting for cray and came up with just the one red. Enjoyable end to the day - pulled in to the Paihia wharf to drop all our tanks in to the dive shop for refills, and sat at the Pier Restaurant for an hour or so enjoying a beer and chips, then re-load the tanks, and go into the bay for a quick fish and off home to the bach in Tapeka we were renting.
Day 4 - Todays plan was to simply take the boat out for a fishing trip for the morning, trying out a few spots in the bay, then come home mid arvo, and do a shore dive out from one of the beaches at Tapeka to get familiar with it, then do it again as a night dive, just round the corner from the bach. Funny - we drove all around the bay to various likely fishing spots, following workups of fish and gannets, to get a measly snapper and kahawai...then dropped the other two girls in to Russell wharf to get coffees organised while us other four tried fishing about 200mtrs out from the Russell boat ramp - after going all around the bay, in this spot just out from the ramp I got a beautiful John Dory, and we got about 18 decent snapper between us! Murphys Law or what?
Only 2 of us tried the shore dive - and I loved it. It was a bay or two around from the Tapeka boat ramp (away from Russell). Stony/rocky entry, and just a few metres out we saw a 1mtr wide stingray sitting about. We were on the hunt for cray as a local had said they were known to be there. Viz was about 5-8mtrs only, the terrain was awesome, lots of rocky pinnacles and gaps to swim through. Perfect cray country, and we found a few Paki and reds, but alas couldnt nail any, but a thoroughly enjoyable dive. Unfortunately we didnt end up doing the night dive as we were a bit tired, planned to go for an early morning dive before packing up the house instead.
Day 5 - home time, didnt end up doing the morning dive due to the logistics of packing up 6 divers, wet gear etc, so just went for a fish - to the successful spot of yesterday - and got pretty much nothing and went through loads of softbait for that nothing...typical fishing - I guess thats why they call it fishing!
Anyhoo...awesome time had by all and looking forward to the next wee trip away together in a couple of months (although we will have lots of days trips away in between for sure)