- Tonga Island Marine Reserve
- Riwaka Resurgence
- Horoirangi Marine Reserve
- Seperation Point
- Cape Soucis
- Croiselles Harbour
- Paddock Rocks
- Canonball Reef
- Greville Harbour
- Rakiura Rocks
- Chetwhode Islands
- Forsyth Island
- Alligator Heads
- Titi Islands
- Waitui Bay
The Tonga Island Marine Reserve was created in 1993, it is located centrally along the Abel Tasman National Park between Awaroa headland the headland on the northern side of Bark Bay. It extends offshore for one nautical mile from the mean high water mark of Tonga Island and the mainland coast, covering an area of 1835hectares.
Visibility can vary greatly from dive to dive even in the same day varying from a metre or two to 15metres, diving in the top ten metres generally provides the best visibility and an outgoing tide seems to be better in several locations. There can be some current on the headlands and points particularly during spring tides. The water temperature on this coast is generally a degree or two warmer the the d'Urville side more than likely due to the shallower water and less influence of the Cook Strait.
There has been a significant escalation in the number of fish and species seen in the reserve over the past five years as the effects of protection and constant monitoring take place. Weed, crustaceans and invertebrates are starting to return in many locations now that the large populations of Crayfish and seasonal influx of snapper have reduced the number of Kina. Species such as Blue Cod are now prolific and range from juveniles to fully developed adults. Seasonal species such as Kingfish, Snapper and Koheru are common in the summer months while the resident reef dweller like Red and Blue Moki, Magpie Perch and Goat Fish proliferate. Its hard not to mention the large resident populations of New Zealand Fur Seals that frequent the Reserve and most notably the nursery on Tonga Island itself.
The diving can be stunning in the Reserve and for new comers to diving and photographers this is a great location with good conditions more regularly than the eastern side of the bay.
The north branch of the Riwaka River pours out of the cave-riddled marble of Takaka Hill in this beautiful area of Kahurangi National Park. Damp forest, clear cold water, tranquil pools, and moss-covered and water-worn marble rock create a fairyland quality. A short path leads through the forest to where the river emerges.
One of the founding members of the Nelson Underwater Club, Ross McDonald along with his mate Eric King, Malcolm Hume and Roger Cross were first to enter the cave system to quell local rumours of a murderer hiding bodies inside the cave, equipped with little more than a candle in an Agee jam jar for light they proved the rumours false and discovered a labyrinth of tunnels.
Today the club dives with cave lines and modern torches to illuminate the way through the tunnels, we generally only goes as far as the third sump in the series of more than ten. Most of this trip is actually walking and the underwater portion is only about 20minutes. The trip is physically demanding and requires a high level of skill and strength especially when it comes to donning and doffing equipment in difficult condition, there are huge boulders and rapids to negotiate in the dark so be coordinated is important.
In saying this it is a spectacular full day trip that shouldn't be missed. The cave system is fairly open with large caverns but there is a small portion which you will need to squeeze through if you choose to, it is not essential. The cave has many slice flows, Stacamites and stalactites with are very interesting even if you have seen them before. Apart from the occasional smalll eel in the water there is absolutely no life with in the caves.
Situated 12km north of Nelson city, Horoirangi Marine Reserve extends northeast from Gleduan (The Glen) to Atatata Point, the southern headland of Cable Bay, and offshore for one nautical mile. The marine reserve is a little over 5km long and cover 904 hectares. The reserve itself was created in 2006 with the assistance of the Nelson Underwater Club in an area that was deemed unsuitable for any marine life. Today the reserve is flourishing and every year the life multiples exponentially.
Visibilty is generally poor at around five metres or less however there are times that it can exceed 15 metres. The diving is generally shallow as the rocky reef system generally peters out to sand around 15metres or so and the further you are from shore the more the long shore current that forms the Boulder Bank will affect divers. Water temperature drop to around 10 degrees in the winter and we have seen them as high as 22degrees in the summer. Diving in the mornings is best here as the sea breeze tends to get up in the afternoon making a rough trip home.
In 2006 there wasn't a fish to be seen, the rocks were bare and apart from the occasional small crayfish cowering under a rock there wasn't much to see. From this time in the change has been dramatic, large numbers of crayfish have repopulated the coastline while weed and sponges have covered the rocks returning the habitat for the large variety of fish that call the reserve home now. We have identified at least 33 different species of fish in the reserve.
This is a great dive for anyone learning or gaining experience at diving, it is also a great dive for photographers.