New Zealand’s coastal waters offer some of the best underwater diving in the world.

Our deeply indented coastline is actually longer than that of the United States. Add to this the fact that nowhere is more than two hours drive from the sea, and it becomes obvious why this is such an aquatic-centred nation.

Scuba diving has a huge following here and you will find dive shops and associated underwater clubs in most cities and coastal resorts. Charter boats regularly head out to offshore islands and reefs and operators provide all the equipment you need. Bring your open water diving certificate with you to be eligible for charter trips. If you want to become a qualified diver you can join a dive shop training course for around $400.

Dive locations abound in the North Island but the ultimate dive experience is the Poor Knights Islands, rated by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. These islands, off Tutukaka on the edge of the continental shelf, feature 75 metre drop off walls, sea caves and soaring arches festooned with colourful sea life. Also in Northland are the superb diving wrecks of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, and the frigates Tui and Waikato. Just north of Auckland is the renowned Goat Island Marine Reserve with abundant fish life and the perfect habitat for a first exploratory dive in New Zealand.

South Island dive locations are equally diverse and interesting but the conditions are somewhat cooler. Notable sites are the Marlborough Sounds, Kaikoura, Stewart Island and Fiordland. In Milford and Doubtful sound you can see remarkably prolific growths of black and red coral in relatively shallow water.

Be sure to take a peek under the surface on your New Zealand holiday – the beauty of our undersea world will amaze you.