No pictures from this dive I’m afraid (I failed to pack my camera) but I thought I’d share the dive experience with you anyway.
Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake located in the centre of the North Island at an altitude of 300 m (the fringe of altitude diving). The lake is about 180 m deep and 43 km long. I have had the ‘pleasure’ of swimming the length of the lake as part of the Great Lake Dawn to Dusk swim in a relay team on several occasions. There is a small collection of elite and dedicated athletes that have completed the swim solo - an amazing tribute to human physical endurance.
Figure 1. Me in the Middle of Lake Taupo
The dive was planned as a skills refresher to a maximum depth of about 12 m for 45 minutes. Conditions were essentially calm with a moderate southerly. The water temperature ranged from about 17°C at the surface to a chilly 14°C at 12 m. Visibility was at least 8 m near the surface but dropped off rapidly at depth due to poor light.
I wasn’t expecting to see anything of significance on the dive so I was surprised and most pleased to observe two good-sized rainbow trout. The first was resting on the bottom at about 7 m before I disturbed it (I didn’t know that trout did this). It took off really fast leaving a cloud of silt. The second fish was cruising at a similar depth about 2 m off the bottom. I have trawled the web looking for an underwater photo that is close to my memory - alas I have found nothing that adequately shows the irradiance from their flexural bodies as these magnificent creatures flashed by.
In the oxygen weed belts there were hundreds of small bullies (up to 25 mm long). When I settled on the bottom and eased my exhales they crowded around my mask, perhaps attracted by the silt that I had stirred up looking for something to eat. The trout certainly won’t go hungry!
At a depth of between 7 and 10 m I observed several fresh water muscles and an orange invertebrate that looked like some type of nudibranch.
At 10 m the bottom was largely silt and dropped away into the abyss with just the occasional tree branch and little else. The light faded rapidly below 10 m. I completed my exercises at 12 m - mask partial flood, mask removal and replace, fin pivot, neutral hover, weight belt removal and replace, BCD manual inflate, etc without consequence.
On return to the beach I reflected on what I didn’t see. Not a single can or bottle, no car bodies or supermarket trollies. The underwater environment was pristine.
With my dive skills refreshed I’m looking forward to some serious diving in a few weeks at Hahei (New Zealand).