Nestled in the lower part of New Zealand's South Island, Otago is not just famous for its universities, wine, and wildlife but also offers a unique scuba diving experience. The region's coastline provides an array of diving adventures, from shipwrecks to marine reserves, with a distinctive blend of marine life.
Best Scuba Diving Spots for Experienced Divers
Aramoana Mole: This spot offers wall dives where experienced divers can explore kelp forests, various fish species, and occasional sevengill sharks.
MV Otago Shipwreck: Sunk in Otago Harbor, this shipwreck offers a rich history and an environment for a myriad of marine species to thrive. It's an ideal site for wreck diving enthusiasts.
Best Scuba Diving Spots for Beginners
Wellers Rock: Located at the Otago Peninsula, this dive site is sheltered and presents a gentle environment for novices. The underwater terrain here consists of rocky outcrops, and divers can encounter creatures like nudibranchs and crayfish.
Brighton Beach: This sandy-bottomed site is perfect for beginners. It provides a relaxed environment to hone basic diving skills while observing flatfish and stingrays.
The marine biodiversity in Otago is unique due to the merging of warm and cold currents. Divers can spot New Zealand fur seals, sea lions, several species of sharks, and even occasional sea dragons. The rocky terrains are inhabited by creatures such as blue cod, octopuses, and various crustaceans.
Otago's waters can be colder than other parts of New Zealand, with temperatures ranging from 8°C (46°F) in winter to about 14°C (57°F) in summer. It's essential to have appropriate thermal protection, such as a 7mm wetsuit or a drysuit. Visibility varies but can reach up to 15 meters on good days.
For a two-tank dive trip in Otago, divers can expect costs starting from NZD 170-230. If you require equipment rental, this might add an additional NZD 40-90 to your overall expense. Dive training and certification courses can range from NZD 500-750, depending on the dive school.
In conclusion, Otago offers a unique underwater experience shaped by its geographical location and climate. Whether you're exploring a historic wreck or swimming alongside a playful seal, Otago ensures a memorable dive trip in New Zealand's southern waters.