Whangarei-based writer and Vis! reader Kirsty Hughes takes her family on a day trip to remember...
The first time I visited the Poor Knights I was awestruck; Rikoriko Cave was astounding, and the history and habitat of the Islands blew me away.
But I wanted more…
I wanted to get in the water, up-close-and-personal with all that fabulous fish life I could see shimmering under the surface.
Dive! Tutukaka’s ‘Perfect Day’ offers the - well - perfect option for non-scuba folks like ourselves, and last month Tony, the kids (Sam, 3 and Zac, 5) and I booked ourselves a treat.
The Dive! crew sailed Perfect Day over from Queensland late last year, and since then she’s been running regular trips to the Knights, as well as pulling duty on some special adventures (see the Niagara’s Bell story here).
Perfect Day was bigger than we’d expected (the kids were impressed!) and takes pride of place in the Tutukaka Marina. It was a sunny weekday and there were only twenty of us on board, including the three attentive crew. With room for 80+ passengers, we felt like the boat was all ours.
The trip out is surprisingly quick, with plenty to see on the way. After a brief tutu around the bottom end of the Islands, and an exciting blast through the Arch, Skipper Craig snuggled the back end of the boat into a perfect position at edge of Blue Mao Mao arch.
On the way out we’d been expertly fitted with well-sized wetsuits and full snorkelling kit. We were in the water before the aft anchors were secured.
The first look underwater was simply awesome; crystal clear water and a floor-to-ceiling wall of whirling, flashing blue maomao. Zac was off like a jet-propelled eel, with Mum in his wake… I didn’t catch up with him until we’d popped out on the Coast side of the arch.
Hanging off the back of the boat and sticking his head below the surface, Sam was completely overwhelmed by the multitude of wildlife. He ditched the mask and went for a swim instead. The inside ‘fish cam’ flat panel TV enthralled him, and a kayak with Dad was a highlight of his day.
Nature-Boy Zac keeps New Zealand Fishes as bedtime reading, so seeing so many of his favourites ‘in the flesh’ had him in and out of the water a half-dozen times.
A big and tasty lunch was served, along with hot drinks and soup, and the boat offered up a multitude of nice spots to sightsee, soak up the sun or even indulge in a wee nap. The boat is perfectly laid out for it’s purpose; the top deck is expansive, and the huge back deck and hydralic step makes the in-and-out bits a breeze.
The friendly professionalism of our Crew made this trip one of the best tourist experiences we’ve had in New Zealand; these guys obviously love what they do and the relish the chance to share their enthusiasm for the Poor Knights and the Tutukaka Coast.
After several hours of swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and eating, we upped anchor and motored around to phenomenal Rikoriko Cave. Heading home, we make a brief diversion to the Sugarloaf and Pinnacles, peeking in on the few baby gannets yet to flew and the one early seal blissfully sunbathing.
I’d been mildy worried about taking two small boys on a boat for a five hour trip, but the time flashed by and the kids were enchanted with the entire experience. We’ll definitely be back for another Perfect Day…
Rachel - UK
Some of the best diving I’ve ever done - certainly the best visibility!
Thank you - what a great team you have.