Welcome to Ohope Beach, Bay of Plenty

New Zealand

Ohope Beach is New Zealand's best beach...

Diving White Island, the Volkner Rocks and the Eastern Bay of Plenty

New Zealand Beach-Ohope Beach  info

Diving White Island, the Volkner Rocks and the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Extended feature by John Baker of Baker Marine Charters. Underwater photography by John Liddiard.Underwater Stingray movie by Gary Palmer.

John Baker with a Pack Horse Crayfish from White Island. Photographer unknown.John Baker is owner operator of Baker Marine Charters and with his vessel 'Ma Cherie' he has introduced many divers to the virtues of the Bay of Plenty underwater world. John Liddiard is a professional underwater photographer who travels the world in search of excellent underwater compositions. These amazing White Island underwater photos come with the consent of John Liddiard. Click on an image to enlarge and enjoy. For more images by John Liddiard please see his website... www.liddiard.demon.co.uk
Gary Palmer is a keen diver and enjoys shooting footage on his underwater movie camera. When he is not submerged he operates a student hostel in Auckland...

John (Tuna) Baker...

After having dived the Bay of Plenty extensively for over the last 40 years I feel suitably qualified to give some hints and locations of some fabulous dive sites. Be it scuba, snorkelling or spearfishing the Bay of Plenty can cover all your diving needs.

Diving to the west of Whakatane

Diving to the west out of Whakatane covers an area of the Bay of Plenty from Motiti Island, 35NM to the west to Mayor Island, 65NM to the west. The western area includes the legendary Tuhua Reef, Aotrolala Reef and Penguin Shoals. Of huge interest is the wreck of the Taioma at Motiti Island in 27m of water.

The Rurima Islands

Nearer to the port of Whakatane are the Rurima Islands, 9NM NW of Whakatane. A rocky reef area that offers great seafood like Mussels, Crayfish and Kina. The water is clear in mid-summer and the Rurima Islands will deliver exceptionally colourful and interesting diving. Photographers go nuts when they see the usually murky waters come clear. The colour comes from plants growing in the bad light and has to be seen to be believed. There are positively hundreds of safe shallow dives up to 30m in the huge area of reefs. The Rurima Islands also have some underwater volcanic activity and hold the secrets of the SS.Tasman.
The SS Tasman hit the SW reef in 1912, ran towards Matata and only made it a few miles before she finally sank in 27m of water. Little remains of the wooden ship, only a boiler, some anchor gear, the back bone and motors. The Tasman Reef was named after this accident.

Whale Island and inshore dives.

Whale Island lays 4NM to the east of the Rurimas and is only 4.5NM from Whakatane. The Whale offers diverse diving from pinnacles to boulder dives in kelp beds. Follow the low drop offs and if you are lucky a scallop or two will find you. In the season of course! Crayfish is common there and spears can be seen snorkelling for a big Snapper or Kingfish.

Diving off the Whakatane heads and Kohi Point can offer some great diving but, due to the river, the water is often murky of 1m visibility or less. The diving is shallow up to 10m and ocean swells often stir up the silt bottom.

Waiotahi Reefs to the east of Whakatane is similarly silty but on a clear day can be fantastic.

Diving an island Volcano 'White Island' and the Volkner Rocks.

White Island (Whakaari) and the near by Volkner rocks (Te Pae Pae Aotea) offer some of the best diving in New Zealand. Everything from Pinnacles to drop-offs, boulder banks and archways, hot volcanic spots and sand plateaus. This combined with a huge abundance of brightly coloured fish such as Mau Mau, Tevally, Sweep, Mackerel, Koheru, Kingfish and Pamoiselles to name a few. There are the rare species like Banded Perch, Surgeon fish, Coral Trout, Knife fish, Banded Coral Shrimp, Snapping Shrimp, Pack horse Crayfish, Scallops and Blue Moki.

Club Rocks is only 400m from White Island and is a hugely diverse area where, in the one dive, you can expect to see dozens of species, Soft Coral Sponges and lots of fish including Golden Snapper.

A lot of the species at White Island are residents and need to be preserved. Moray Eels of different species are common with the Yellow-Mosaic Moray the most common. Huge Stingrays and Eagle Rays make diving White Island and Club Rocks a fabulous place to dive. One never seems to have enough air when diving White Island.

Laison's Reef named after Henry Laison is midway between White Island and the Volkner Rocks and is an awesome dive. The reef comes out of 150m of water right up to 13m. Fabulous visibility and I have seen it at 40m! Yes 130ft of visibility at times.

The 26 Fathom is a dive only for the true pro-divers. It's a small pinnacle a mile south of Laison's Reef. It boasts some huge Cup Sponges, Black Coral, and Enormous Kingfish. Only experienced and well prepared divers should attempt this dive. Physiological dangers can affect all divers if taken lightly.

Proposed Marine Reserve in the Bay of Plenty.

The best diving in the Bay of Plenty is the Volkner Rocks and a radius of 1MN around them. This is the area proposed for the Eastern Bay of Plenty's first marine reserve because of the wonderful visibility and the abundance of exotic fish species. There is some fantastic diving such as the Diodema Rock which is a pinnacle that holds a lot of Diodema Palmeri Urchins. It is a fabulous wall dive but divers should be aware of the depths because, in general, the surrounding waters around the Volkner Rocks are deeper then those closer to White Island.

Dive Charters.

There are tour operators in Whakatane that cater for pure divers and divers/fisherman. They offer day trips in the faster boats to the overnight experiences of 24 hours to 5 days or even longer. Please see the Tours and Charters index on this website to access some of our quality operators.

Enjoy your diving in the Bay of Plenty and remember safe diving always.

Enjoy our short underwater movie clip of Kingfish and a Stingray at White Island.Play movie

Please WAIT a minute for the movie clip to download and begin...
Dial up Internet? Play the short movie clip (341 Kb
Broadband Internet? Play the full movie clip (1.6 Mb)


Pink and blue maomao at Diadema Pinnacle

By John Baker of Baker Marine Charters

Underwater photos by John Liddiard with thanks to Whakatane Sportsworld (Dive White)

Blue maomao in the shallows at Spanish Arch
Blue maomao beneath Spanish Arch
Wrasse at Spanish Arch
Maori wrasse at Spanish Arch
Moray eel at Spanish Arch
Nudibranchs munching a sponge at Spanish Arch
Starfish at Spanish Arch

Related links: John Liddiard | Baker Marine Charters | White Island | Coastguard | Dive White

Back to Recreation Page

Ohope Beach home page


© Ohope Beach.info 2003

Pink maomao at Laison's Reef

White Island underwater photo by John Liddiard

Amongst the kelp at Laison's Reef

Stingray at Laison's Reef

A pair of moray eels share a hole at Diadema Pinnacle

Blue maomao at Diadema Pinnacle

White Island Diving

Pigfish at Homestead Reef

Blue maomao at Diadema Pinnacle

Blue maomao at Homestead Reef