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Poor Knights

Back in New Zealand after completing a Padi Rescue Diver course in Fiji and time to try and reacclimatize to our less-than-tepid water.  With my new A20 camera housing I contacted my old buddies at PK Dive for a day out at the Poor Knights from Tutukaka aboard Shadowfax.

PK Dive have opened a new shop in Tutukaka that opened on Saturday morning.  Martin and assistant were busy organizing furniture and stocking shelves from cardboard boxes.  Good luck with the new venture guys.

The weather was beautiful with a light sea swell and almost glassy.  On the trip out we paused to search for a whale.  The first dive location was Northern Arch.  The water temperature was a chilly 13C which was a real trial after 27C in Fiji.

Before the first dive I tethered my new camera housing with a dummy weight to my 50 m line and lowered it to about 30 m.  Excellent - no leaks.  The first dive was to 18 m for 58 minutes.  Beasties included some nice nudibranches, Demoiselles, Black angle fish, leather jackets, blue and pink Maomao, and eel, some Scorpion Fish.  Another dive-pair saw a small bronze whaler (read that ‘shark’) at the entrance to the arch.  The surge on the wall was surprisingly strong.  Visibility was 15 to 20 m with a fair bit of particulate matter and plankton in the water.

Time for lunch and a few minutes basking in the sun on the bow of Shadowfax thawing out my feet.  One thing that PK Dive do really well is their ‘light’ lunch.  Hot soup, bread rolls and a variety of fillings that puts my pantry to shame.  I wonder what there full lunch would look like?  

The second dive was at the Pinnacles, a rocky outcrop SW of the Poor Knights.  The rocks are the home of a big Gannet colony.  The dive site was called Tie-Dye Arch, apparently named because of the profusion of colours on the wall (20.2 m for 38 minutes).  Unfortunately the walls put the dive site in shade and the visibility had reduced to about 15 m so the colours eluded us.  Beasties included a big packhorse crayfish, four pairs of Coral Fish, some good sized scorpion fish, an eel, some fair-sized Parore, Red Moki and Snapper hovering at about 10 m.

The camera worked well with no leaks to just over 20 m.  I struggled a bit with focus and lighting at times, not helped by the surge, but managed to gather a few acceptable pictures and some movie footage.

On the way back to Tutukaka we stopped to look at a proliferation of birds feeding on schooling fish at the surface.  The fish were making the water boil in places and the birds were everywhere, wheeling, diving, and skimming.  I wonder what was beneath the fish, or what they were feeding on to bring them to the surface in such large numbers?  We skirted around the Sugarloaf – a rocky pinnacle with shear walls dropping to a depth of about 100m.  One day I hope to dive here but not this trip.

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