After too long out of water I finally phoned Sharkbait at Dive HQ to find out what trips he had planned. I was in luck. There was a trip on for the Rainbow Warrior, a truly iconic New Zealand wreck dive, and the Waikato, a scuttled navy frigate, over the weekend of 12 May 2007.
I’ve dived the Waikato previously but I have been longing to check out the Rainbow Warrior, and here was my opportunity.
On Saturday 12 May we launched from Matauri Bay and headed to the Warrior. This wreck has mixed emotions for me. I am truly saddened by the terrorist act committed by a friendly nation that lead to her sinking and the death of one of the crew. The day was overcast but sea conditions were essentially flat with a light swell and chop. My dive buddies for the day were Mike and Paul. We descended down the marker buoy line to a depth of about 19 m and headed across to the wreck. Visibility was moderate – say 12 m and the water temperature was a comfortable 17°C. The wreck was in good condition with a fine collection of marine growth over the hull. Beasties spotted included scorpion fish, big eye, a crayfish or two, yellow tail, leather jackets, snapper, Moki and Parore. This was a fantastic dive and I am super-pleased to finally have this one in my log book.
Following the wreck dive we completed a cray dive on the NE side of the Cavallies to a depth of 18 m. We spotted a few crays but despite Mike’s best efforts they would not be caught. We saw a number of eels on the dive including a good-sized yellow moray.
On Saturday afternoon we drove south to Tutukaka and enjoyed dinner at the Snapper Rock, entertained by Paul’s amazing appetite. The following morning I met up with the crew of PK Dive. Their skipper, Lou, was on his last trip before heading back to Blighty for some serious study. My best wishes for your endeavors Lou and hopefully you will find your way back to God’s Own for more sub-aqua adventures.
We set out for the frigate Waikato. The wreck is broken into two sections. We descended to 30 m down the bow section buoy line. Visibility was not a happening thing - about 3 m. Paul and I circumnavigated the upper decks. This is a big wreck with plenty of ground to cover – even when you can’t see your hand in front of your face. There are some beautiful gem anenomies on the hull and heaps of Big Eye inside the vessel.
The second dive was coastal just north of Tutukaka. The visibility was a tremendous improvement on the conditions at the Waikato at 12 m, although still not perfect. I was buddied up with Donna and we set off on a leisurely looking – not catching - dive. We had some great fun with the surge into a couple of channels, entertained by the antics of several small schools playing in the current, and observing snapper, Parore, leather jackets, Moki, and very peculiar clusters of urchins. We managed to nab three crays on the dive, but two were rejected so only one will join me for dinner. While I was busy ‘catching’ I forgot entirely about the sizable ray that was resting on a patch of sand near by. By its raised tail I think that I had definitely annoyed it and with the all the negative press that these guys have had in recent times we decided to move on. It was fun navigating back to the boat with a rock lobster obscuring my compass and computer.
My camera housing remained watertight throughout the weekend but the Pentax 750Z has developed another control button fault from its previous immersion. Thankfully this did not affect its performance on the dives but I can see me making a new case for my Pentax A20 in the not-too-distant future.
Click on the thumb to link to a YouTube video of the Rainbow Warrior’s bow spirit.