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Published on : Monday, July 18, 2016
New Zealand’s serpentine coastline is almost as long as that of the continental United States offering superb diving and snorkelling locations. Due to the foresight of conservationists, 44 marine reserves have been created for everyone to enjoy.
They range from the just announced Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, which plans to safeguard an area of 620,000 sq. km in the Pacific, to coastal gems on three main islands and the Sub Antarctic Islands in the Southern Ocean.
Visitors are free to enter these unspoiled reserves and marvel at the prolific sea life that is totally protected from exploitation by fishing and gathering. The fish populations can be 40 times higher than areas outside the reserves.New Zealand’s most loved marine reserves are very accessible to visitors. Nothing can be taken from the reserves except photos and life-long memories.
Cape Rodney – Okakaru Point
At Goat Island, Just north of Auckland, New Zealand, it is not uncommon to see fearless granddaddy snapper, gnarly red lobsters and cheeky blue maomao.
A tiny speck of land called Goat Island revered by divers became the focus of an intense study by conservationists in 1975, which led to New Zealand’s first marine reserve.
Coming face-to-face with fearless granddaddy snapper, gnarly red lobsters, cheeky blue maomao and sunbathing stingrays at Goat Island has fuelled a lifelong passion for diving for many Kiwis.
Marine scientists say lobsters double their numbers every two years here and snapper are 30 times more plentiful. Other reef species like anemones, sponges, gorgonian fans, lace corals and sea urchins thrive here too.
To enjoy this experience all you need is a mask, snorkel and flippers. The best sea conditions are when offshore winds prevail and swells are below one metre.
Goat Island is 90 minutes drive from Auckland on the east coast, 4km northeast of Leigh. Snorkelling gear can be hired at ‘Newseafriends’ on Goat Island Road. The Glass Bottom Boat Company runs tours from the beach.
Poor Knights Islands – Northland
New Zealand’s second marine reserve encompasses a rugged group of drowned volcanic lava domes with a remarkably varied ecosystem.The islands have won accolades for their splendid undersea caverns, arches, tunnels and sheer cliffs. Diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau once described them as the best dive spot in subtropical temperate waters.
Squadrons of graceful stingrays wing their way through archways past huge schools of trevally. Swarms of brilliant blue maomao and demoiselles engulf divers then veer away with curiously synchronised movements.
You will see subtropical species like spotted black grouper, mosaic moray and coral fish. Solitary scorpion fish and tiny blue dot triplefins hover over exquisitely coloured nudibranchs and sponges.
Tutukaka, the service port for the Poor Knights, is 30km northeast of Whangarei. New Zealand’s largest fleet of dive charter boats operate out of Tutukaka to the 50 dive sites around the islands.
Source:-New Zealand Tourism