Sea conditions are at their best in summer and autumn (January-June), when the weather is settled, visibility is good and marine life is abundant.
New Zealand consists of the two main North and South islands and a number of smaller ones:
- North Island - warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland and forests to active volcanic peaks with bubbling mud pools
- The Poor Knights Islands (group of uninhabited islands off the east coast of the North Island). were named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. Water temperature is higher, and visibility significantly greater than in nearby coastal waters.
- South Island - spectacular mountains and fjords, large beech forests, beautiful beaches, large glaciers
- Stewart Island - heavily forested, a wilderness paradise and the only place to a see a kiwi on Masons Beach! Underwater temperatures range from 8°C to 14°C but enduring the cold brings great rewards in the pure eco-experience of diving in pristine conditions with excellent visibility.
- Chatham Islands
- Sub-Antarctic Islands - very difficult to get to unless you're on a scientific expedition or deep sea fishing vessel
- Kaikoura (on the east coast of South Island) is the main place for whale watching ..... sperm whales (which can be seen all year round), killer whales which are only seen between December to March and the humpback whales which are there for a brief period in June and July. Furthermore, almost daily, you can see quite a few dolphin species - the world's largest dolphin, the Orca, and also the world's smallest and rarest, the Hectors.
- Poor Knights - a marine reserve; large shoals are common and there are hundreds of short-tailed sting rays which migrate here every year to breed.
- Fiordland National Park - 14 sounds which have World Heritage status. All the diving is cold water but the real attraction is the unusual occurence of tinted freshwater on the top of the salt (especially evident in Milford Sound). This acts as a huge filters which sucks the light from the top layer of water, creating a much darker environment underneath. This enables deepwater species to live much closer to the surface. Expect to see black coral trees, sea pens and a host of rarely seen marine life.
- Probably the most famous wreck, that of the ex-Greenpeace vessel, Rainbow Warrior. It lies within the Cavalli Islands and was blown up by the French.
- Goat Island Marine Reserve, a 524ha reserve spanning from Cape Rodney to Okakari point.
New Zealand has a temperature climate with the Mediterranean feel in the North with hot summers and cool winters to a climate similar to that of the UK's in the South.
|Currency:||New Zealand $|
|Climate:||Temperate with sharp regional cotrasts|
|Natural hazards:||Earthquakes are common but generally not severe|
|Diving season:||Year round; high season October-May|
|Water temperature:||21C/70F Jan-Mar (North)|
|15C/59F July-Sept (North)|
|15C/59F Jan-Mar (South)|
|11C/51F July-Sept (South)|