15 Day - North & South Diving Expedition

Diving White Island Volcano

This 15 day self drive itinerary focuses on the spectacular dive locations in both the North and South Island. If you have always wanted to dive a bombed Greenpeace Ship or around an active volcano or inside freshwater caverns while staying in unique boutique accommodation then this is the holiday for you! The scenery will amaze and ‘must do’ adventure activities will excite even the most intrepid of travellers.

Day 1 – Welcome to the Jewel in the Pacific

Arrive in Auckland “The City of Sails”, a title gained from the view of yachts seen against the cityscape. Here everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands.  Once you clear customs, collect your rental vehicle and begin your adventure.  Drive two hours north to Tutukaka; gateway to the Poor Knights Islands. This tranquil stretch of coastline is often described as the Paradise Coast, and for good reason, the coastline is scenically breathtaking, rugged and rocky, punctuated with white sand surf beaches with an array of activities to suit all needs. This is one of the country's best kept secrets.

Two Nights Accommodation at the Oceans Resort in Tutukaka. Perched on the edge of the renowned Tutukaka Marina, Oceans is part of a truly European inspired resort destination, with a myriad of water-based activities on your doorstep.

Day 2 - Dive the Poor Knights Marine Reserve

Need we say more - The Poor Knights Marine Reserve was named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the Top 10 Dive Sites in the world. Over 125 species of fish share this complex marine environment, along with soft corals, sponges, vibrant anemones, sting rays, gorgonian fans and vast kelp forests. Beneath the waters you’ll also find the world’s largest sea cave, Rikoriko, reputed to have hidden a marauding Japanese submarine during World War II. The warm currents here originate in the Coral Sea, so the water temperature is higher and visibility greater than that of nearby coastal waters.

Day 3 - Dive the Twin Wrecks (HMNZS Tui & HMNZS Waikato)

Strategically sunk to make artificial reefs, the former research ship HMNZS Tui and ex-combat frigate HMNZS Waikato were purposely prepared and maintained for easy access penetration diving. Penetrate the wrecks through purpose cut access and exit points -  explore control rooms, bridges, crew living quarters and engine rooms via established routes. Watch sponges and crabs scuttle away into cracks while Kingfish cruise in like approaching aircraft making low passes. You need to have at least 20 logged dives to dive the Waikato and must be an advanced diver to dive the Tui.

Two Nights Accommodation at the Paihia Beach Resort & Spa in the Bay of Islands. Enjoy a treatment at ‘La Spa Naturale’, the award winning day spa, take a dip in the 20 metre heated saltwater pool or relax in the Jacuzzi, private steam and sauna rooms. Dine at the sea view restaurant, “Pure Tastes” where the chef has won numerous culinary competitions and food awards. It is simply divine!

Day 4 - Dive the Rainbow Warrior – Greenpeace Ship, Bombed by French.

After making passage to the Cavalli Islands explore the wreck of the controversial Greenpeace flagship – the Rainbow Warrior. Bombed in Auckland Harbour by French Secret Service agents on July 10th 1985, the wreck was relocated off the Cavalli Islands two years later. This artificial reef has matured into an ever-growing host to marine life and is an excellent shallow water wreck dive suitable for certified open water divers. The wreck is splendour of colour with jewel coloured anemones clinging to the rails and is home to schools of Golden Snapper, Kingfish and John Dory making this one of the world’s most famous wrecks.

Day 5 - The Coromandel - Beautiful Beaches and Native Bush

Drive south, passing through Auckland across to the Coromandel Peninsula. The impressive heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula and is bordered on each side by kilometres of spectacular coastline. Take the Cathedral Cove Walk from Hahei, down through native bush to the hidden coves, the interesting rock formations have been carved away over many years. Next stop is Hot Water Beach.

Soak at Hot Water Beach: The natural upwelling of geothermal hot water rising from deep below the sand makes this spot famous. Dig a hole in the sand when the tide is low, then allow the hot springs to work their limb-soothing magic while the cool waves of the Pacific Ocean invigorate you.  Why not enjoy it with a glass of wine as the sunsets on the horizon!

Some sightseeing and activity options available are:

One Nights Accommodation at
Colleith Lodge in the Coromandel. This boutique property is in a unique breathtaking location set on 1.5 acres amid native bush with spectacular panoramic views encompassing Tairua Estuary, Pauanui, Slipper Island and the Pacific Ocean.

Day 6 - Dive the Aldermen Islands

Located 20 kilometres off the coast of Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula, are a series of dramatic island peaks, remnants of volcanoes rising up off the ocean floor. These are the Aldermen Islands known for fantastic diving and often compared with the Poor Knights. The diving is spectacular featuring huge drop offs, caves, pinnacles starting at 12 metres, and a major feeding station starting 8m below the surface and dropping to 70m. The marine life is varied, with Spanish lobsters relatively common in this area. The islands are occupied by visiting seals in the winter months, and schools of dolphins and pods of orca are often seen.

One Nights Accommodation at the Sebel Trinity Wharf in Tauranga. Brilliantly positioned in the sunny Bay of Plenty offering magnificent views of Tauranga Harbour.

Day 7 – Dive an Active Volcano, White Island

Early morning drive to Whakatane ready to Dive an active volcano; White Island. It has been steaming away for centuries and is truly unique with the bubbling underwater fissures creating an underwater Jacuzzi. The warmer currents also mean visibility of generally 20 metres plus, not to forget the abundant varieties of fish life including huge Kingfish, Stingrays, Moray Eels and massive schools of Blue Maomao, along with some of the biggest crayfish. Diadema urchins are almost unique to White Island and masses of these can be seen on a pinnacle dive known as Diadema Rock.  Overnight at White Island Rendezvous.

One Nights Accommodation at White Island Rendevouz in Whakatane. This comfortable accommodation is situated opposite the picturesque Whakatane Wharf and is within walking distance of the town centre and many fine restaurants.

Day 8 – Explore the Geothermal Wonderland of Rotorua

Wake to a hearty cooked breakfast  then drive from Whakatane to Rotorua, check into Peppers on the Point and spend the day taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Rotorua.

Rotorua is the heartland of New Zealand and host to some of the world’s most incredible earth forces. Surrounded by the unmistakable smell of bubbling sulphuric geysers, clouds of steam magically appear around the city giving it an incredible 'other worldly' feel. Here lives wonders like the Pohutu geyser, which erupts 20 times a day and can spout up to 100 feet. All around this geothermal hotspot there are spouting geysers, acrid-smelling mud pools that bubble and belch, and warm geothermal pools and hot spring bath’s that create a kaleidoscope of colour.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

One Nights Accommodation at Peppers on the Point in Rotorua. This stunning retreat offers the perfect base for experiencing New Zealand’s rich culture or you can simply relax and enjoy the tranquillity of the location.

Day 9 – Marlborough - Wine and Gourmet Food

Take a morning flight to Blenheim; the heart of Marlborough’s wine making district.  Spend the afternoon experiencing the magic of Marlborough with a visit to some world famous wineries including Cloudy Bay.  Sample the wines, the olive oils, the divine hand made chocolates of Makana and the gourmet foods that have put this region on the map as the gourmet province. Settle into Hotel d’Urville and enjoy a relaxing evening.

Two Nights Accommodation at Hotel d'Urville in Blenheim. It’s a small hotel in the heart of the town with eleven, well-appointed rooms, an elegant bar and modern restaurant.

Day 10 - Dive the Mikhael Lermontov – The Red Giant

Spend the day exploring the leviathan known as the ‘Red Giant’. On 16 February 1986 the 170 metre long Mikhael Lermontov, Russia's then most luxurious cruise liner, became one of the largest and most accessible diving wrecks of the modern era when she sunk in the Marlborough Sounds. At her shallowest point she sits at 12 metres (38 ft) at an angle of 10 degrees bow up. Being a complete wreck, the Lermontov is a treasure trove of artefacts just waiting to be discovered. Everything from bottles of Russian vodka to a fully stocked library awaits you below deck. You may even come across a Russian doll!

Day 11 - Dive Riwaka Caverns, Explore Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

Morning drive to the Riwaka Caverns; here you will experience a very interesting yet relatively easy freshwater cave dive. Walk through the bush to the top of a basin, here you will enter the cave through a 3 metre sump. The highlight of the dive is the massive chamber at the end of the second sump. Remove your scuba equipment and explore the stalactite and stalagmite formations. The sheer size of this chamber is totally unexpected!

When ready drive to Punakaiki on the West Coast.  These rocks really are remarkable pieces of natural sculpture, a series of stratified limestone stacks which over many thousands of years have eroded to give the effect of giant piles of neatly stacked pancakes. Another prominent feature The Blowholes;  that at high tide or in heavy weather regularly throw up columns of dazzling spray.

One Nights Accommodation at Kapitea Ridge near Greymouth. This intimate and stylish boutique hotel lies amongst 8 hectares of prime coastal land with panoramic views over the wild beaches and indigenous rainforest. The unique design and the special location offer tranquil relaxation amidst nature.

Day 12 - Fox Glacier Heli Hike

Drive to Fox Glacier and board a helicopter for your exciting Heli-hike. By flying into the glacier you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier that is otherwise very difficult to get to. View awe-inspiring pillars of the lower icefall then circle the marvellous upper icefall and the Victoria Falls before landing. Your remote landing site is an exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. Outfitted with instep crampons you follow the ice steps, cut by the guides and explore the beautiful formations and ice caves which are seen only here. This is a true voyage of exploration.

Continue your journey along the coast, stopping at the scenic Lake Matheson before heading to Wanaka.

Some  alternative sightseeing and activity options available are:

One Nights Accommodation at Aoturoa Luxury Villa in Wanaka. This exclusive  accommodation offers a stunning high country experience. The Lodge  is tucked away on the Clutha River with mountain views in all directions and barely a building in sight.

Day 13 - Dart Wilderness Jet Boating Adventure

Today you be taken on a 1.5 hour Wilderness Safari through the Dart Rivers ever-changing braided river system. Be awed by the breathtaking snow-capped mountains, ancient native forest, waterfalls and glacial valleys frozen in time. Walk through the ancient beech forest before travelling by 4WD coach along a scenic back-road stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrop for many international films, including ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

Drive South passing by Queenstown to explore the mysterious underground world of the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves. Your journey begins with a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau, once there explore the caves by path and small boat observing how the rushing water sculpts the rock formations, before gliding through silent darkness to the glow-worm grotto. The delicate incandescence of thousands of tiny glow-worms is a magical sight.

Two Nights Accommodation at Fiordland Lodge near Te Anau. The open architecture of this lodge reflects the vastness of the Fiordland National Park. The guest rooms are simply luxurious, not forgetting the divine local cuisine and atmosphere.

Day 14 - Diving Fiordland - A Look into the Jurassic

Diving Milford Sound

Enjoy a gourmet breakfast before heading off to 'Dive the Last Frontier' - as named by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Today’s diving will amaze and inspire, Fiordland's unique marine environment results from a combination of dramatic mountains and intense rainfall. Massive volumes of water flow into the fiords, causing a freshwater layer to overlay the seawater, thereby creating an environment where deepwater species can live at unusually shallow depths. This means that scuba divers like you can see rare black and red corals, spiny sea-dragons and other deepwater life at only 10-15m.

When you are back on dry land spend your last evening enjoying a relaxing drink while taking in the commanding views out across Lake Te Anau.

Wanting to extend this adventure? Perhaps wanting to walk the Milford or Routeburn Track or head south to the idyllic Stewart Island? Just ask, after all it is your holiday…

Day 15 - E Noho Ra (Good Bye) Homeward Bound or Extend your Trip!

Diving in New Zealand

Please take the time to view our “Virtual Tour” for the 15 Day Diving Expedition or download/print the detailed “Tour Dossier”. Both can be found on the right hand column of this page. Alternatively you can simply contact us. For a comprehensive list of all activities available in each location featured in this tour, please refer to the "Destination Guide" found at the top of this page.

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