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  • Day12

    Poor Knights Island Diving Day 1

    December 27, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Diving was up next on the agenda. We drove around four hours from Waitomo to Tutukaka, gateway to the Poor Knights Islands. We boarded the Acheron liveaboard and were greeted by dive guides Ashleigh and Ren, cook and ship hand Mandy, and skipper Kevin. There were 6 other divers on board: the Whitehouse family, one Canadian and one Chinese.

    The Poor Knights are volcanic rock formations, rated as one of Jacques Cousteau's top 10 dive sites, in part due to the mix of local cold water and tropical species brought in via current from the Great Barrier Reef - as described in the documentary, Finding Nemo. :)

    We did 3 dives the first day, kitted up in thick 7 mm wetsuits with vest, hood (+ sharkskin for Brittany). Even before jumping in, we saw Schools of trevally hanging out at the surface feasting on small crustaceans.

    There were no tropical coral formations, instead kelp, algae, sponges, and sea fans, with sea urchins throughout. There were colorful byrozoans covering large sections of wall, surrounded by anemone and lots of different nudibranches, from the size of a fingernail to several inches.

    The highlight on the first dive was seeing a small carpet shark hiding under the kelp.

    The third dive, our favorite, was the famous Blue Maomao Arch. The arch extended above water, and consisted of large purple boulders underwater. As hoped, there were massive schools of blue maomaos, a brilliant blue fish local to these waters, who like to hang out in caves and under archways. These were some of the largest schools we've ever seen, beautifully moving in unison around divers.

    For dinner, Mandy served up some lamb legs and a vegetarian lasagna for us. We opted out of the night dive to keep warm, drink some wine and chat with the boat crew. We stayed up just late enough to enjoy warm brownies and ice cream.
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