Children diving, Poor Knights Islands
Diving and snorkelling are one of the best ways to enjoy the underwater world of the Poor Knights.
However, kayaking lets you explore the caves and arches, and the clear water allows everyone to observe the marine life.
Some operators have equipment on board to give non-divers an underwater experience.
Remember it's a marine reserve so all marine life is protected.
The islands in the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve are all Nature Reserves and landing or climbing on these islands is strictly prohibited.
Under the water
Diver with Mosaic Moray eel, Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve
Beneath the waves at the Poor Knights an ocean of diving has been compressed into a relatively small area. The caves, arches, tunnels and sheer cliffs provide a great variety of habitats to explore.
From turbulent sunlit waters and kelp forests on the upper reaches of the tumbling "giant staircase," to the dark waters of the islands' many caves, the Poor Knights offer an extraordinary variety of underwater experiences. Sponge gardens and gorgonian fields are inhabited by a myriad of fish, shellfish, urchins and anemones, with black coral found in deeper waters.
The steep cliffs, which fringe the islands, plunge 100 m below sea level in places before reaching a sandy seafloor. The arches are some of the most interesting places to explore. A rich nutrient soup is washed through them, feeding the countless animals that compete for space on the walls. Squadrons of stingrays can also be found cruising the waters of the archways during warmer months.
Many of the subtropical fishes living in the marine reserve are found nowhere else in New Zealand, having found their way to Poor Knights on the subtropical East Auckland current.
Some of the fish include subtropical species such as spotted black groper, mosaic moray and Lord Howe coralfish. They are renowned for their friendly nature and make visiting the marine reserve a truly memorable experience.
Nursery Cove, and some of the shallower parts of the South Harbour are the best places for novice divers. Experienced divers can find spectacular and challenging dives all around the islands. If you're diving please take care to avoid damaging underwater features, and no souvenir hunting please.