Dive into the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve

Department of Conservation —  12/02/2015

If you want an out-of-the-ordinary adventure, a trip to the Poor Knights Islands, might be just the thing…

Oneho Peak, Poor Knights Islands. Photo: A Perfect Day | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Oneho Peak, Poor Knights Islands

Just north of Auckland, off the east coast, the Poor Knights Islands are an internationally renowned dive site and one of New Zealand’s ten Coastal Gem marine reserves.

Warm waters, swept from the tropics by the East Auckland current, make Poor Knights an ideal destination for trips, even late in the season.

Scorpion fish, Poor Knights Marine Reserve. Photo: Debbie Freeman.

Scorpion fish

You can swim, snorkel or dive amongst a huge variety of fish and tropical species, all protected within the Marine Reserve.

Beneath the waves the volcanic rock has been sculpted into labyrinth of caves, tunnels and cliffs, festooned with kelp forests, coral fields and sponge gardens, and inhabited by all manner of sea creatures.

More species of fish can be found here than anywhere else in New Zealand.

Jewel anemone/Corynactis australis, Poor Knights Marine Reserve. Photo: Debbie Freeman.

Jewel anemone

In just one dive it’s possible to view an amazing array of marine life, such as five different species of wrasse, Lord Howe coralfish, scorpionfish, grouper, perch, carpet sharks and moray eels.

Tropical visitors, such as manta rays and turtles pass through, along with orca, humpback and pilot whales.

And, fortunately for snorkellers, the island’s peculiar environment means that there’s plenty of eye-popping sights to be seen near the surface too.

Verco's nudibranch/Tambja verconis, Poor Knights Marine Reserve. Photo: Debbie Freeman.

Verco’s nudibranch

Day trips to the Poor Knights depart from the beautiful, beachy Tutukaka coast, half an hour northeast of Whangarei.

Boats are crewed by passionate, professional guides who will be just as excited as you, should you spot a pod of dolphins, or even a whale, on the 45-minute cruise out to the islands.

Sound great? Wish you could be there today? Well you can—sort of.

Enjoy Poor Knights right now—vicariously through the Air New Zealand Dive into Adventure winners, who’ve recently returned.

Watch and be inspired to make this marine adventure your own: