I like the sound of Flea Bay as its a marine reserve, so I'm guessing there would be more life there...? And which would be better for seal and dolphin encounters?
We're both experienced divers, so conditions is not too much of an issue, though good vis is always a plus
Hi Katherine, Flea bay is very nice (you're right there is tons of life there) but... You need to be very lucky to strike it in any sort of diveable condition, unless you are staying for a considerable amount of time. The vis is usually down to around 1-4 m. I have dived it quite a few times when I used to live down there and found that for really good vis you needed at least 3 days NW wind and a week free of rain prior to that. Flea bay is usually a shore dive but you have to go over a hill on the way out that does mean you have to consider spending a few hrs post dive before doing so.
There is very good diving to be had on the outer areas of the Peninsula but bear in mind that nearly everyone who goes out on the dive charters are only after cray, nothing else matters..
(or so I've heard, I always went out on a mates boat so never experienced it for myself
Kaikoura (similar deal with the weather, you want no rain for a few days and NW conditions) would be a much much better area to visit if you are wanting seals, dolphins and don't want to rely on luck so much, plus there are some amazing dive sites there!
Sorry I'm not much of source of info on operators.