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.
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
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
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
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
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.
There are tour operators in Whakatane that cater for pure divers and
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
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Underwater photos by John Liddiard with thanks to Whakatane Sportsworld
© Ohope Beach.info 2003