Day 354 on the Road
Scuba Diving in the Bay of Islands
Today Laura is joining Paihia Dive for an epic day of scuba diving! If you like this video and want more epic bucket list inspiration, then continue watching our 365 Days: 365 Activities over on YouTube!
Today I am scuba diving around the reefs and islands of the Bay of Islands.
Alright guys it’s with sunrise in the background that we are making our way to our 11th to last adventure, yes, we only have 11 adventures to go before the end of this gap year.
Yes, even with 10 or 11 days to go we are still finding amazing activities to do in New Zealand and today’s activity brings us to Paihia Dive.
Wow just in front of the garbage bin you look amazing. You just blend in perfect Laura.
It’s called garbage chic.
After trying the wetsuits and making sure that everything fits, the team is carrying all the gear we’re going to be needing toward the boat.
So welcome aboard Centennial this is going to be our boat for today for the whole day.
As soon as we board the boat, Stu is giving us a bit of a safety briefing telling us everything we need to know to stay safe for our journey with Paihia dive on their awesome boat.
On top of Stu we also meet the rest of the team, which comprise of Craig and Emeline which are gonna be assisting us today during the tour but within no time at all we already arrive at the diving spot so Stu is taking the lead in teaching the girls what they need to do and what they need to know to dive safely in the Bay of Islands.
They are getting the full set of equipment, they’re getting a BCD which is this big vest, they’re getting fins they’re getting booties they’re getting a hood, mask, weight belt, regulators, and they are being taught how to use everything while Laura is joking around.
With all this gear on I feel super heavy and clumsy but within no time we are in the water and instantly I feel super weightless.
After we have had the time to swim around on the surface of the water and get used to the feel of all the equipment Stu is taking us about one metre under the water to go through some scuba skills with us. This is super reassuring for beginner scuba divers like me and even if you have no qualifications whatsoever you can still do some pretty awesome dives in the Bay of Islands, so we go through some skills then we are on our way.
The water clarity is absolutely amazing. I can also see the flash when Craig is taking some pictures of them which is really cool.
Yes, just like Robin said, the water clarity is super super clear even as we are getting deeper into the water we can see everything around us from super far away and we see fish pretty much instantly on this dive, we don’t need to swim far and we are completely surrounded by all sorts of species of amazing fish.
Our guides are showing us a couple of really awesome tricks to get the fish to come closer to us, for instance if we tap a rock or clap our hands together underwater, we can attract fish with the sound of the vibrations which is really awesome, not that we really need to attract the fish because the fish just seem to be super curious in us. We see fish swimming right past our snorkel mask and getting super close and even looking at us we can see their eyes following our every move.
During this first section of the dive we are swimming in a place called White Reef and that’s because all rocks around us are this bright white colour and on the rocks are all sorts of creatures and plants, specifically kelp forest which is all this green seaweed-like stuff that you can see around us and that’s what attracts all this marine life.
Stu is taking us to all the best sections of the kelp forest where we can see the most amount of fish and we’re seeing all sorts from snapper, to kelpfish, red moki, red pigfish, sandangers wrasse, leatherjacket, demoiselle and so many different types of sea urchins and that’s only the ones that I can remember.
The really awesome thing about scuba diving in the Bay of Islands is that there are dives for all types of abilities and qualifications. For instance, I am a complete beginner – I don’t have any qualifications but this is just an awesome dive yet we still get to see so many different fish even at a beginners’ level. But if you do have the qualifications and dive certificates then you can do wreck dives such as The Canterbury wreck dive and even the famous Rainbow Warrior.
Another really surprising thing about this dive that even in the middle of winter, it’s still actually pretty comfortable to scuba dive in New Zealand, we have all the right equipment, we have super thick wetsuits, we have the booties and the hood which keeps us warm as well. We’re not even thinking about our temperature right now – we are just absolutely mesmerised about the fish around us.
What’s also keeping us distracted is that our guides have more tricks up their sleeves. One of the other diver guides, Craig, is breaking up spiny urchins which is attracting a crazy amount of fish all around him and it’s absolute chaos.
Unlike other scuba diving locations in New Zealand, this area around the Bay of Islands isn’t actually a marine reserve which means that you can actually pick up the sea urchins and kine urchins.
While Laura is literally serving snacks to the entire reef below and also collecting snacks for us, I’m spending some good times on the boat checking out their whole progress because the water is so clear I actually get to see them swimming around it’s quite amazing, plus, we’re moving the boat alongside them as they are making their way throughout the whole tour.
During this tour with Paihia Dive, we actually get to check out two different diving locations. The first one was White Reef but now we’re moving onto Putahataha Island.
The really cool thing about scuba diving around this island is that there’s all these cracks hiding all sorts of creatures of the deep including these eels which are just looking at us as we are staring at them and eels in Maori language are known as tuna.
The island also harbours loads of different plant life – really different to the kelp forest that we were swimming around before. There’s loads of different amazing array of colours and it just really adds to the crazy feeling of being in a completely different world.
As we are moving to some of the more darker sections of the island it’s really helpful that our guides have loads of real specialised underwater equipment like torches and lights so we can actually take in all the amazing colours around the island they are also taking photos with specialised underwater cameras along the way which they actually share with us at the end of the tour and that’s really helpful considering most of us don’t really travel around with lots of underwater equipment.
As we’re making our way further around the island, we’re discovering even more underwater species, like we haven’t seen enough already! We are now seeing underwater crayfish otherwise known as lobsters to other people around the world, and then we are surrounded by these huge schools of fish koheru.
One of the biggest highlights of this island though is when we reach a massive cave. The experienced divers among us, the ones with the qualifications, they can actually dive right though into the cave taking torches with them to see some really unusual creatures. But for the beginners like me, we actually just get to enjoy the entrance of the cave which is still really cool.
The cave marks the turning point in the tour where we start making our back toward the boat, but even after almost an hour of scuba diving I am still not ready to leave. Scuba diving opens up a whole new world which is so addictive.
But it’s not all bad though, cos when we start making our way back toward the boat, one of the guides, Craig, he’s collecting some food for us to eat when we get back onto the boat. Although, with those spiny shells I’m not quite sure how that’s gonna work.
As Laura is getting out of the water, I can see the glee on her face. It looks like she had the time of her life, and quickly she grabs the list of fish to show me what kind of fish she saw. But apparently they brought us some surprises so, it’s time for a taster.
Sea urchin, or kina as it is known in Maori, is a delicacy here.
Another brutal day at the office.
After taking a bit of time to relax there is a big surprise waiting for us in the harbour. Despite the fact that I did not get the chance to scuba dive today I get to see something absolutely amazing – a huge pod of super playful dolphins is coming to meet our boat.
The bottlenose dolphins are the most common dolphins that can be found in the Bay of Islands and there are multiple pods around the area making them quite a common sight. They are super playful and they get super up-close to our boat – we get to see them behave in their natural element so up-close I really love it.
As soon as we start getting a little bit of speed they start playing around the boat and making sure that they are keeping up with us. It looks like they don’t want to let us leave. I mean, seriously guys, every day with dolphins is a good day on the Bay of Islands.
Today I am scuba diving – emphasis on the I.
Today I am gonna be looking at Laura going deep deep underwater with extreme jealousy.