The name says it all – Perfect Day – and the cruise to the Poor Knights was pretty near perfect! The world-famous Poor Knights islands and the surrounding marine reserve are one of the best dive sites in the world. It’s in the underwater legend Jacques Cousteau’s Top 10! And it’s right off the coast of my hometown, lil ol’ Whangarei.
When I learnt staff at my new job (the Visitor Information Centre) are encouraged to experience tours, activities etc. around Northland (for free!) for product knowledge (so we know what we’re yabbering on about when discussing with tourists), I knew I’d settle in quuuuite nicely.
A tourist in my hometown
So today we were tourists. Departing from the beautiful Tutukaka Coast at 11am we cruised on the open ocean for about an hour on our way to the islands. It took a bit longer than normal because WE SAW DOLPHINS!! They were zooming through the water, swimming alongside our boat. There’s just something about dolphins eh?! We humans love them so much.
Not long after we came upon the Poor Knights, slowly coasting in to a prime spot between 2 islands. A vibrant life-filled ledge on one side and a cave of blue maomao on the other.
Snorkel is such a weird word don’t you think?
This was my first time snorkeling since I was a wee sprat myself. And definitely the first time doing it out in the ocean! A little bit scary but a lot exciting! The water was flippin FREEZING even in a wetsuit! Another first for me, I looked like a just fed seal, it’s a good thing they don’t get sharks round there very often. After going numb, I was off to explore! I could see metres ahead of me it was so clear. So many fish I’d never seen before, swimming so close to me. Fish, kinas, pretty little seaweeds and euww jellyfish! An alien like sound escaped my snorkel as I saw it blobbing toward my head out the corner of my mask. Creepy little things…
They include lunch, which is tasty salads, delicious sandwiches with the freshest bread I think I’ve ever had, beautiful fruit salad, all topped off with cuppa soups, milo, tea and coffee to raise our core body temperatures, (jokes it wasn’t thaaaat cold… but seriously it was flippin cold!) The crew were awesome – friendly, funny, happy to help with anything and everything. This beautiful blue ocean is their office, (imagine that!) they are very proud of it and want to make sure we love it like they do.
After exploring the shallower side I wanted to check out the school of blue maomao I’d been told about in the cave on the other side. I was a little apprehensive of crossing the current by myself, but I was told as long as I had flippers on and gave a little kick every now and then I’d be fine. Well I bloody nearly got cramp from kicking so hard! Not from the current being too strong but because of my imaginings of being sucked out to sea.
It also became less clear as I swam over, as it got deeper and also because my bloody mask fogged up! And just as I was arriving the last snorkelers were leaving, so I was over there by myself, in the deep, about to go into a cave. Soooo I chickened out and turned back, and kicked for my life to get back to the other side!
It’s funny what your mind can conjure up when you’re in strange new environments.
Kayaks, Paddleboards and more
I wasn’t finished yet! I hopped on a kayak for the last half hour and paddled through the cave instead. Couldn’t see the maomao unfortunately, but I did see some divers, as I nearly ran over them, woops!
After we all got back on board we went for a little cruise around the islands and into the worlds largest sea cave, Rikoriko, where they blasted the horn just for fun. Then we soaked up the last of the ocean views as we cruised back to the Tutukaka Marina in the late afternoon.
Poor Knights ticked off the bucket list
It was such a great day exploring this precious gem off the coast of Northland. I never realised how special this place is, and for it to be on my doorstep is even more special. I must say thank you to Dive! Tutukaka for making this happen. I know Jo and I were so so grateful for this Perfect Day!
Now I want to explore more snorkelling spots around my beautiful coastline. I even got myself a mask and snorkel in the boxing day sales! So where will I go next?! Anyone have any suggestions?
Wanna check it out yourself, have a look here!
This is the first in a new series I’m trying out, of my adventures around my home region of Northland, New Zealand. After returning home from a few years of travelling, I’m rediscovering the many special places right here in my own backyard.