By Daniel van Stralen
The boat left the harbour at 8:15. We needed to be there ahead of time to get geared up and store our snacks and lunches in the boat. We camped the night before at the Tutukaka Holiday Park which was about 1 km from the harbour. We got up early so we could pack our bags with snacks, wetsuits and camera gear. When we were all packed up we walked the 10 minute walk from our camp ground to the boat.
On the way to the harbour we passed a couple of stores and I saw that one of these was an ice cream store. I asked my Dad if we could stop to get some ice cream for on the boat but he said it would be best to have it when we come back and I agreed. Yes!
It’s 8:10 and we had arrived at the harbour to see a big black van that said Yukon Dives which was the company that we were going diving with. We also met the family that will be diving with us today.
We had heard about the Poor Knights Islands diving area from some friends we had made during our travels and it is rated in the top ten snorkeling and diving areas in the world.
The islands are a 1 hour boat ride from the mainland and are whats left of a huge ancient volcano that collapsed leaving some huge spires of volcanic rock jutting out of the South Pacific Ocean.
The waves hit the south side of the islands and then eddy around to the calm north side carrying with them a plankton and nutrient rich soup that attracts tons of fish and underwater sea life. This area is also a part of the EAC – East Australia Current which is a warm subtropical flow which attracts all kinds of sea life. (Remember “Finding Nemo.”)
On the way to the islands me and my Dad went on to the roof of the boat and we watched as the islands loomed closer and closer.
The captain had warned us that there was large swell today on the ocean and about 20 minutes before arrival I felt a little sea sick so I lied down and fell asleep.
I woke up suddenly to see that we were only 5 minutes away from the island so I climbed down the ladder to the lower level of the boat and grabbed my wet suit.
I also picked out a set of snorkelling goggles and flippers. This spot that our guide picked for us is one of two spots that we would be snorkelling at today.
We put on our flippers and defogged our goggles and the jumped in to the ocean.
When I opened my eyes I was in awe. When you see the ocean from the surface it is beautiful but it is mostly blue and grey.
As soon as you go under the surface it’s like a portal into a new world. Endless fields of kelp bright colours of coral and schools of hundreds of fish. Its hard to explain what you see as empty and grey when it turns into a hole new world of fish and other sea life and I guess the only way to explain it is jaw dropping.
I was swimming along and watching the fish when I saw something gliding through the water beneath me. It was a big beautiful Sting Ray so I started to follow it. It was a thrill to watch it gliding across the ground with such grace and speed. I lost sight of it when it swam into a big patch of kelp.
I swam back to my family who were swimming amongst a huge school of bright blue fish. While I was swimming our guide called us all back to the boat. Before we started to go to the second snorkelling sight we had soup I got creamy chicken and the rest of my family got chicken noodle soup.
The boat ride to the second spot was only about a 30 minute ride but a lot of amazing things happened in the 30 minutes.
Our guide told me that we would see lots of arches and caves before we got there so I climbed to the roof of the boat to get a better view.
About ten minutes after I had seated myself on the roof we saw are first arch. It was big and very beautiful. I was surprised to see that our boat was turning into it. We started to move under the arch it was scary because there were big waves crashing on both sides.
We made it through safely and started heading toward the second spot. We saw lots of arches and caves before we arrived at the diving spot.
Our guide told us that at this spot we would see more fish then we did a the first and that they usually swim near an arch that was next to the boat.
I defogged my goggles and jumped in. There were jelly fish everywhere. Our guide said that these jelly fish don’t sting but I still kept my distance because I had just been stung by a jelly fish a week before while I was surfing and I didn’t want to go through that again.
When my brother jumped in the water we began to swim to the arch. On the way there were some spots were we had to dive under the water because there were so many jelly fish.
When we arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were fish every where! Schools of little brown fish, bright blue fish and even some large King Fish. There were also some snapper, scorpion fish and some sea urchins.
Some of the scuba divers saw Moray eels. My brother noticed a great big sting ray. It was at least double the size of the one I had seen before and seemed to have some white spots on it.
Since the fish at the Poor Knights Islands have never been fished they weren’t afraid of us – you could swim right next to them.
I found it super fun that I could swim in big schools of fish with out them swimming away.
We had swam around the arch looking at different fish and sea life for about 3 hours before our guide called us back to the boat.
I was sad when we had to leave the beautiful undersea world, but our guide said that he had one more surprise for us.
I was trying to think what the surprise could be when I saw a huge cave in the side of the cliff. It was one of the biggest caves I had seen in my life and our guide told us that it was the biggest sea cave in the world.
Our guide drove the big boat right into the cave then dropped the anchor.
I was looking around at the cave when I heard a beautiful sound. It was our guide playing a wooden flute. I was mesmerized by the sound as it echoed though the cave.
Our guide told us that different kinds of bands had came into this cave to record songs because of the beautiful acoustics in the cave.
He also told us that a big Sperm Whale had died in the cave and it’s bones are still at the bottom.
We had about 15 minutes to look around and film before our guide played another song then started the boats engine to head back to the harbour.
On the way back home I remembered all the pretty things I had seen. I also was thinking about how yummy the ice cream was going to be when we got back.
Please leave me a comment if you enjoyed my story 🙂