The New Zealand Diving Adventure Itinerary

Diving among a school of fish Poorknights New Zealand.

The Bay of Islands - New Zealand's Winterless North

If you have just arrived into Auckland International Airport you will transfer to the domestic terminal before your short flight to Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. Collect your car and drive to Paihia.

This sub-tropical region has the finest maritime park in New Zealand with 144 islands, secluded bays, and an abundance of marine life including marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins, gannets and many other species. It is one of the most picturesque and popular holiday sites in New Zealand. It combines great fishing, diving, (perfect for a New Zealand Diving Adventure) sailing and other water sports with some of New Zealand's most significant historic sites. One of the most popular attractions is the Hole in the Rock, off Cape Brett. You can take a boating trip through the hole in a huge rock outcrop.

Approximate Distance: 24 kms | 15 miles  Total Driving Time: 21 mins

Accommodation Opua - 2 nights

Northlands Bay of Islands
On a private native bush reserve that contains one of the few remaining untouched native rain forests in an area famously renowned for its coastal and marine beauty rests The Sanctuary. Guests can relax in the open-plan lounge, kitchen and dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows, leather sofas and 2 wood-burning fireplaces. Breakfast is included each morning.


Dive the Greenpeace Flagship - The Rainbow Warrior

After making passage to the Cavalli Islands you explore the wreck of the historical and 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 in hues of purple, yellow and blue making it a great underwater photography subject. It is the home to schools of Golden Snapper, Kingfish and John Dory making this, one of the worlds most famous wrecks, a most memorable dive.

40 metres (131 feet) long and in 27 metres (88 feet), she is smallest of the three Northland wrecks.

Note: The Rainb​ow Warrior lies in water deeper than 18m/60ft. As such, any Open Water divers who wish to dive the wrecks must do so in conjunction with a PADI Deep Adventure Dive (which will contribute to their Advanced Open Water certification). This costs an additional NZ$50.

Diving the Rainbow Warrior Northland


Diving Cape Brett

Highly recommended on any New Zealand Self Drive Diving Adventure, this striking headland includes the famous Hole in the Rock tunnel, Cathedral Cave on Piercy Island, and the dramatic Deepwater Cove. Kingfish, kahawai, trevally, and maomao cruise the sheer rock faces, which plunge to 37m (122 ft) in places. Tropical species like flying fish, sunfish, marlin and mako sharks can be seen in summer. Bird Rock is a top spot for sighting large pelagic fish like marlin and sharks. With 40 stunning dive sites like Sonic Boom Cave, The Sisters (Motutara Rock) Cathedral Cave, Motukokako Island - Cape Brett offers world-class diving for tec to open water divers.

Dive Certification: There are over 25 well known dive sites at Cape Brett Peninsula and plenty of sites that cover all certification levels.

Approximate Distance: 25 kms | 15 miles  Total Driving Time: 35 mins

Accommodation Cowshed Bay - 2 nights

Cape Brett

Built by divers for divers the Cowshed has gained a good reputation as a fun, social and relaxed place to stay. This is must stay for anyone who loves diving and wants to meet likeminded New Zealanders.  Offering comfortable modest accommodation the lodge  caters for Meals (no chance of going hungry). You also have a variety of après-dive entertainment such as pool, darts, tv/dvd, reading material, cards and board games.

Cowshed Dive lodge - Northland


Diving the Wreck of the Canterbury

The HMNZS Canterbury was one of two broad beam Leander class frigates operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy. On 3 Nov 2007 she was sunk by plastic explosives to create an artificial reef. Located in Deep Water Cove off the stunning Cape Brett Peninsula. This Peninsula forms the southern arm of the Bay of Islands.

About the dive: Because of its sheltered aspect, flat sandy bottom and relative lack of tidal currents and therefore great visibility, this wreck dive has become very popular dive site with the New Zealand diving fraternity. The very top of the wreck lies at 12 metres (39 feet) the midsection at 22 metres (72 feet) the bottom at 36 metres (118 feet), she is standing bolt upright on the ocean floor... 

Dive Certification: Divers must be advanced open water level or higher. If unsure, we can provide an experienced guide for a small additional cost. Please request this when booking if needed.

Diving the wreck of the Canterbury.


Drive to Tutukaka - Gateway to the Poor Knights Marine Reserve

Drive a scenic 1 hour to Tutukaka. Dive the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 dive locations in the world. 

The islands are a special experience for divers and snorkellers, with a unique blend of subtropical and temperate marine-life. 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. Cruises often stop in this giant cavern to sample the amazing acoustics and watch the school of bright fish in the waters below. The warm currents here originate in the Coral Sea, so the water temperature is higher and visibility greater than that of nearby coastal waters. Born from volcanic activity, tropical and sub-tropical life abounds in this unique underwater environment. Caves, tunnels and archways are all home to great schools of friendly colourful fish - great photography!  

Dive Certification: There are over 65 well known dive sites at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve and plenty of sites that cover all certification levels.

Approximate Distance: 70 kms | 44 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour

Accommodation Tutukaka - 2 nights

Poor Knights Marine Reserve

Pacific Rendezvous Resort is situated on a 26-acre peninsula overlooking the Tutukaka Harbour entrance. All apartments have a view of the sea, either an ocean view or a harbour view. Some of the best beaches are found on the Tutukaka coast - we especially recommend the stunning Whale Bay. 

A standard room at the Pacific Rendezvous overlooking the Tutukaka Harbour.


Dive the Twin Wrecks

A very scenic 1-hour coastal drive has you in the seaside town of Tutukaka. Sunk to make artificial reefs, the former research ship HMNZS Tui and combat frigate HMNZS Waikato were purposely prepared and altered for easy penetration diving. You enter the wrecks through purpose cut entry and exit points -  explore the bridges, control rooms and crew living quarters and engine rooms via very established routes. Watch Kingfish cruise in like approaching torpedoes making low passes just missing the wrecks.

Dive Certification: You need to have at least 20 logged dives to dive the Waikato and must be an advanced diver to dive the Tui. If unsure, we can provide an experienced guide for a small additional cost. Please request this when booking if needed.

Diving the Waikato.


Coromandel Peninsula

Where New Zealanders Go to Play

Journey south of Auckland and on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf lies the Coromandel Peninsula, bordered on each side by miles of spectacular coastline. On the west coast, there’s a never-ending parade of beaches, coves and harbours lined with pohutukawa trees. The eastern side is furnished with an amazing collection of white sand and surf beaches. The past can also be found in the charming colonial architecture and historical buildings preserved in several towns around the region. The coastal nature of the Coromandel makes it a brilliant choice if you like to fish, surf, dive, snorkelling, swim or wander along beaches. For contrast you can head for the hills and hike the trails in-the-forest.

Approximate Distance: 376 kms | 234 miles  Total Driving Time: 5 hours

Accommodation Whitianga - 3 nights at Villa Toscana

Stunning, golden sunset over the Cormandel Peninsula.


Diving the Alderman Islands

Located 20 kilometres (12 Miles) 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 Alderman Islands known for fantastic diving and often compared with the Poor Knights. The water clarity is 15 to 30 metres (50 to 98 feet) much of the year and water temperatures reach a pleasant 22 degrees Celsius (71 Fahrenheit ) in summer. this is one of those must-see sites on any New Zealand Diving Adventure.

Dive Certification: There are over 25 well known dive sites at the Alderman Islands and plenty of sites that cover all certification levels.

Diving the Alderman Islands


Diving the Mercury Islands

The Mercury Islands consist of a group of large islands situated east of the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. The islands attract divers from all over the country because of the varied underwater terrain with pinnacles, reefs, sandy bottoms, caves, drop-offs and islands, making for varied and spectacular diving. Schools of Blue MaoMao, Sweep, Trevally, Kahawai, Demoiselles, Pink MaoMao, Butterfly Perch, Terakihi are common, along with some great Kingfish. Corals, nudibranchs, hydroids, sponges, anemones and ascidians cover the walls, with crayfish and morays hiding in the cracks. Fantastic for the keen underwater photographer and the budding marine biologist.

Dive Certification: There are over 30 well known dive sites at Mercury Islands and plenty of sites that cover all certification levels.

Mercury Islands Diving


Waitomo - an Incredible Underworld Adventure

The green rolling landscapes of the Waikato region hold more than just surface appeal, for this region boasts an extensive labyrinth of underground caverns formed many millions of years ago and the small town of Waitomo is the focal point of these subterranean wonders – a celebration of nature's work over the last couple of million years.

But today we venture into only one of these cave's, but this is no ordinary cave, this is the famed and loved 'Lost World'. After completing the world’s longest commercial caving abseil (rappel) of 30 minutes you will land in the most incredible cavern space underground.

Approximate Distance: 241 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 20 mins

Caving Adventure Waitomo

Come and stay in tranquility with this eco-friendly, self-sufficient retreat in the Wild West of the North Island. Your hosts Biddy and Rich welcome you to their 1666 acre working sheep and cattle farm. Experience the peace and tranquility whilst absorbing stunning mountain and limestone views of the central North Island close to Waitomo Caves. 


Return to Auckland

Have a leisurely morning and travel back to Auckland for your onward connection. We hope your experiences diving on your New Zealand Self Drive Dive Tour have been excellent.

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

Our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Approximate Distance 185 km | 115 miles Approximate Driving Time 2hr 20 mins

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the 'New Zealand Self Drive Dive Tour' - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

A bright pink sunset in the viaduct harbour of Auckland.

Profile picture for user Steve
What Steve says about this tour: The ultimate diving New Zealand tour - taking in marine reserves, cave systems, the infamous Rainbow warrior, naval wrecks and all amongst the most beautiful sites. An 11 day underworld adventure.
Enquire Now

Want Your Very Own Custom Itinerary?

We can customise any of our online itineraries or create your own from start to finish

Pricing terms

The price is based on current exchange rates but is only an approximation. Please contact us for a final price