Boats set out from tiny TUTUKAKA – set on a beautiful, deeply incised harbour 30km northeast of Whangarei – for one of the world’s premier dive locations, the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, 25km offshore.

Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve

The warm East Auckland current and the lack of run-off from the land combine to create visibility approaching 30m most of the year, though in spring (roughly Oct–Dec) plankton can reduce it to 10–15m. The clear waters are home to New Zealand’s most diverse and plentiful range of sea life, including a few subtropical species found nowhere else, as well as a striking underwater landscape of near-vertical rock faces and arches that drop almost 100m. One dive at the Poor Knights, the Blue Mao Mao Cave, was rated by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top ten dive sights in the world. The Poor Knights lie along the migratory routes of a number of whale species, so blue, humpback, Bryde’s, sei and minke whales, as well as dolphins, are not uncommon sights on the way to the islands. The waters north and south of Tutukaka are home to two navy wrecks. The survey ship HMNZS Tui was sunk in 1999 to form an artificial reef, and it was so popular with divers and marine life that the obsolete frigate Waikato followed two years later.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
How to find the right New Zealand for you

How to find the right New Zealand for you

While it may not loom large on the world map, New Zealand feels incredibly vast and imposing on the ground, especially to those who try to visit the North and S…

23 May 2016 • Eric Grossman insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook