May 172007

I got back to the Tutukaka and had another day’s diving during my last full day in New Zealand.  As soon as I had it in my head I knew it was the right thing to do and I was eager to get back.

There was a new crew on the boat, but again they were all superb.  Total professionalism, extremely educational, and with a total right on attitude towards the marine reserves…..but with the essential fun thrown in too.

To be honest my first dive in the morning was one of the worst I’ve ever done.  Leaky mask, foggy mask, and it’s the first dive I’ve done in around forty dives without taking a second mask down as I completely forgot.  I was a bit panicky at first and couldn’t wait to surface, but thought I’d stick it out so see how I got on.  I spent the whole time holding the front of the mask.  Horrible.  Heavy breathing, running through gas quicker than my Subaru did, and I wasn’t able to focus on looking at things, although I still managed to see another short tailed Stingray.  I was so glad I didn’t have my camera down with me as well as that would have just been another thing to look after.  Like my previous post mentioned I thought I should have left my diving experiences on a high.

(Picture : Kelp ‘forest’)  I knew it would be the last diving I’d do for a while so had to go out again and get the vibe back, so on went a hire mask, and it was absolutely fantastic.  The skipper helped me out with my underwater casing and put a different plastic knob on the end of it and it worked a treat.  It’s so bright there you don’t even need a flash for mediocre images.  I even took my first underwater video but annoyingly it was a bit of an afterthough just before I surfaced but it was great.  It really made me want to take this up!  I tried to upload this to YouTube but the file was too large.

We entered another cave and finally I got my own pictures of one of the cave entrances.  We saw another ray, several nudibranches and were diving through the kelp forests.  Unfortunately we never saw the carpet shark that sometimes hangs around one of the dive sites.  In exchange for some photoshop info I even got a Poor Knights CD from one of the guys there.  I also spent the boat trip chatting away to an English girl doing her divemaster there.

What a superb day and an ideal way to leave New Zealand.  I was so sad knowing that I wasn’t going out the next day as despite only being there three times I walked in in the morning to ‘Hi Darren, you came back then.’ and that wasn’t even from someone who was out on the boat with us.  When I left someone said ‘maybe see you next season for your divemaster then.’, and I went away with the email address of one of the guys incase I made it to Malta to dive when he was there.

The Poor Knights Islands really are a pretty special place even without the diving.  Above and underwater there are loads of arches, caves and ‘bubbles’ in the rocks from the previous volcanic activity, and it’s a sacred place for the Maoris due to the history.  Due to the lack of human activity on the island its one of the few places, if not the only place in New Zealand that is free from pests and rodents so you get very special creatures including the only remaining ‘dinosaur’ species around. The caterpilars are huge due to the lack of predators.  Humans are not allowed to land on the islands apart from the odd DOC or scientific representative.  Hearing about this place really brings it home how much man has buggered up New Zealand in the past and present day introducing foreign species, trashing the marine life with fishing practices and generally all the things that lie under the covers of New Zealand’s ‘clean and green’ marketing.  New Zealand isn’t alone with this but the longer you spend here the more you realise how much bullshit is being marketed compared to what really goes on.  There are many opponents to the Deptartment of Conservation here, and even their practices, but it’s great to see some of the things they preserve and try their hardest to maintain and that they make some of the reserves very easily accessible (e.g. Goat Island) for people that maybe wouldn’t experience the environments otherwise.

One day I’ll be back 🙂

Oh and to finish on a good note, here’s a really special picture of a seahorse I took.

I actually got sent this from a traveller I met in Laos.  Apologies to the copyright owner as it’s not my picture!  (oops).

 Posted by at 9:55 am

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