New Zealand’s most active volcano lies 50 km offshore from Whakatane where it continuously lets off steam and releases clouds of ash.
The volcano sits on the continental shelf where the White Island Trench runs parallel to the huge abyss of the Kermadec Trench. These undersea canyons convey the subtropical East Auckland Current directly to the island, bringing a colourful array of tropical marine life and very large pelagic fish.
The diving here is simply incredible. Many local divers regard White Island as being right up there with the best – as good or even better than the Poor Knights Islands. Visibility can exceed 40m and schooling fish often attract the sort of predators you yearn to see underwater – bronze whaler and blue sharks, mako sharks, marlin, tuna and kingfish. Down in the depths expect to spot huge packhorse crayfish (lobsters), groper, bass and even black coral.
Dive charter boats operate out of Whakatane and Tauranga to the island where the top locations are:
This awesome open water dive location lies 5km north west of White Island and can produce almost every pelagic fish species you can imagine. The eastern flanks are a good place to start, with depths to 18m. The west side has a staged descent to 30m and then plummets to great depths. The north east corner is virtually over the continental shelf and drops to 1,000m and more.
These are off Crater Bay where the volcanic rocks are riddled with caves and holes, which are home to packhorse crayfish and groper. On the western side is an interesting plateau, 18m at the deepest part, which is alive with every species of reef and pelagic fish. A kaleidoscope of coloured sponges, hydroids and gorgonians line the sheer cliff face down to 37m.
This is located midway between White Island and Volkners Rocks in open water with 30m plus visibility and endless possibilities for viewing every northern fish species. The reef rises to 18m and the sides plummet to 150m with countless reef fish and kingfish cruising past.