Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

The Poor Knights, BOI, Hauraki Gulf, East Coast & Wellington

Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby Dash » Sat Oct 18, 2014 11:12 am

It seems like this forum isnt very active, so if there is a better place to post please let me know. The only other place Ive checked is the NZ section on Scubaboard.

Im from California and Im planning a trip to NZ in late January. Could I ask for some advice? Ill be spending my first 5-6 days touring North Island by motorcycle, then I want to go diving. Since I will be leaving from Auckland I think Id like to dive in that area. This means locations like Poor Knights, and Rainbow Warrior. A liveaboard would be nice and I wouldnt have to worry about transportation, on the other hand, maybe I would regret not being able to get out and see the sights on land after the diving day is done.

ANy opinions?
Any opinions on tour operators or liveaboards? Or good dive sites / places to stay?

Another question: I dive southern california mostly.... cold and low viz. Temps at depth anywhere from 12C - 18C. I wear a drysuit year round. I have seen quotes of 17-19C in NZ but I dont know if that is surface or at depth. Can anyone let me know what to expect in the general dive depths in the northern area? Maybe I can rent a drysuit...I hate freezing.

Thanks very much, Im really looking forward to seeing your country!
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby rambaldi » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:25 pm

Going north of Auckland my suggestions are always Northland Dive (http://www.northlanddive.com/) (there are other good operators up there I am sure, but I just haven't been out with them). They will do the Rainbow Warrior but charge extra due to the distance from their base, they have lots of great diving closer to the backpackers though, the Canterbury, Danger Rock, Big Eye lair and lots of others. For diving at the Knights, liveaboards would be with Ocean Blue on Mazurka. There are a few day trip operators (Dive Tutukaka are the biggest). Both the Knights and Northland Dive are a bit of a drive North of Auckland (don't let the distances fool you, driving in New Zealand can be slow at times, specially on Old Russel Road :p). I don't know about renting Drysuits up there, I think your best bet might be to rent one in Auckland before leaving.

There isn't much regular activity on here but people often lurk and pop in when something interesting is going on. If you have any further questions, or things that I didn't answer then ask away :)
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby Dash » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:35 am

Thanks for the response and suggestions Rambaldi. Trying to decide on liveaboard vs. staying near an operator and going with daily trips is probably my biggest decision. Totally subjective question: Is there anything I shouldnt miss on land in the general Bay of Islands area that my previous 5-6 days on the motorcycle going around the rest of North Island wouldnt equal?

Im leaning toward liveaboard only because Im assuming that the motorcycle portion of the trip in the area from Auckland to Wellington and back is going to be enough to see the majority of things.

Lastly, about my temperature question: Do you have any idea what it will be like? I realize different dives/different depths changes the answer...but im just trying to get a general idea.
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby rambaldi » Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:31 pm

For one reason and another I don't personally do a lot of diving in January so my temp knowledge might be a bit off. I would expect it to be at around 14C-15C at depth, maybe a touch warmer at the Knights. I personally find it very comfortable wetsuit diving but that is probably just me lying to myself because I can't afford a drysuit :P

I am not familiar with all the tourists spots up North, but I don't think there is anything that you would have to see. Unless you go much further North past Kaitaia or to the other coast to see Tane Mahuta and the Kauri forests. There may be other great sites though that I am just not aware of :p
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby Ali Perkins » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:13 am

Hi Dash,

I would echo Rambaldi's recommendations above for operators.

Northland Dive in the Bay of Islands is sort of like doing a land-based liveaboard.
Ocean Blue (Mazurka) is awesome for a liveaboard at the Poor Knights Islands - for me personally the day of diving is never done and I am in love with night diving at the Poor Knights (a liveaboard gives you this opportunity). Yukon Charters and Dive Tutukaka are also fab for Poor Knights diving.

There are definitely some wonderful attractions up north:
- Ninety Mile Beach
- Cape Reinga and lighthouse
- Tane Mahuta and kauri forests (kiwi spotting at night time in Trounson)
- plenty of lovely day walks: undulating coast, sand dunes, forest
- kayaking trips

But you can't expect to see a country from top to bottom in one hit so you may need to decide between diving and some of these other things. Travel time in NZ is slow so fitting in much after a day of diving will be difficult.

Water temperature in late January will be warmer than Rambaldi suggests. 14-15 Celsius is our winter water temperature on the upper North Island. The water temperature starts edging up from now onwards into summer, but lags behind the season due to the time it takes to heat up the ocean. By late January we should be headed towards our summer high water temperature. For the Northland east coast this will be around 20 Celsius, the Poor Knights Islands is usually about one degree warmer than the coast and will generally hit a high of 21-22.

Personally it is a drysuit water temperature all year round for me if you want to be comfortable on long dives and consecutive dives in one day. Try Global Dive in Auckland for drysuit hire. Most kiwis dive wetsuits because they're too tight to spend their $ on a drysuit, not because the water temperature doesn't warrant it. :-)

If you have any more questions, please fire away. I could dive in a ditch and enjoy it but in my opinion New Zealand diving is awesome and you are going to love it!

Alison
To view the underwater photography of Alison Perkins from InspiredToDive.com - visit http://www.inspiredtodive.com
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby Dash » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:53 am

Thanks Alison! I too could dive in ditch....actually, thats alot what shore diving in SoCal is like sometimes. We get all giddy with 20 feet of viz...haha. I dont mind though..

I DO love night diving so your comments regarding the liveaboards and driving times are well-received. I think Ill see enough sites on the motorcycle so Im leaning towards the liveaboard. Also less logistics to plan.

About your temperature comments: Glad to hear it is warmer but are those temps for surface, or at a typical Poor Knights depth? I could probably dive wetsuit with 20-22C temps at depth.
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby AndrewRawlingson » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:53 pm

Hi Dash. I think the other guys have pretty much covered it. Although I've never been diving in California, I imagine diving conditions at the Poor Knight to be very similar to what you are used to. To answer your last question, I've never experienced much of a thermocline at the Poor Knights. In summer, water temperature would be a fairly consistent 20 - 22 degrees regardless of depth. While that may sound quite warm, 3 (or even 4 dives per day) on a liveaboard will make you feel cold. Like Alison, I also dive in a drysuit all year round.

My video will give you a flavour of diving at the Poor Knights.

http://vimeo.com/108240537

Cheers

Andrew
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby Ali Perkins » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:05 pm

As Andrew said, we don't get much in the way of thermoclines. You may get one degree of difference in temperature between the surface and 30 metres but I usually don't feel any difference. So those temperatures apply to diving at depth. It's 16 Celsius at the Poor Knights at the moment. Can't say for sure what it will be at the end of January because it varies from year to year. I expect it would be minimum 18, but probably closer to 20. By end February we're usually at maximum temperature for the season, for the Poor Knights 21-22. You can take off one degree for coastal / Bay of Islands diving.

You will survive okay in a wetsuit, especially if you get sunny weather in which to warm up between dives (never a guarantee in NZ). If you were going to travel with your own drysuit then I would say bring it. But the cost of hiring a drysuit, finding a suit that fits comfortably and then diving a suit that you're not used to may not make it worth the effort. That would be your call.
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Re: Hello! Planning a trip to NZ, questions abound..

Postby Dash » Sat Oct 25, 2014 6:33 am

Thanks for the added info! Every little bit helps. Im happy to hear about the temps. Ive never seen greater than 18C/65F at depth in SoCal, and that is rare. And it is thermocline central here...even if you do get 65/18 on the surface, you can bet your warmest fleece jammies that it wont be that where you are going! :lol:

Alison, I agree...I think its either my drysuit or im going wet. I could bring my DS but I have yet to upgrade to easily replaceable zip seals and I dont want disaster to strike on a boat. THen Id have to bring or rent a backup wetsuit...which wouldnt fit me.

I think ill go with my 7mm + 5mm hooded vest and throw a heat pack down my suit if need be.

Im expecting the beautiful NZ scenery to keep my mind off the temp anyway! :mrgreen:
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