Updated: Apr 9
We loved our snorkelling and kayaking excursion to the world-renowned natural destination, The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve.
The Poor Knights are a collection of islands 50 km from the Whangarei coast, in Northland, New Zealand. They are surrounded by a marine reserve that protects the islands, and surrounding waters with a number of regulations. This area is a world-renown diving location praised by many including the French explorer, Jacques Cousteau.
Like most New Zealanders', I know of the special nature of the Poor Knights and have had the islands on my bucket list for some time. So, I excitedly booked a day excursion onboard the cruise vessel, "Perfect Day", casting off from Tutukaka.
'Perfect Day' provides a non-dive experience that caters for a range of ages and abilities. Onboard, expect babies in arms through to the elderly who have joined the cruise for sight seeing only. The crew skillfully assist their passengers to snorkel, swim, kayak and stand up paddle board. A lot of equipment is provided including snorkelling gear, sight adjusted goggles, wet suits, kayaks, paddle boards, lunch and refreshments.
What's more, passengers can rest assured that safety and compliance are taken care of.
We had a somewhat bumpy, 40 minute trip to the islands. The captain and crew are expert in supporting their passengers through the oceans swells. We tied up in the calm waters of Maroro Bay.
The story of Buller's Shearwater
During the outward trip, the captain pointed out an area of boiling water, with hundreds of birds sitting on the water, circling above it and plummeting headfirst into the boiling ocean. These birds were the Buller's Shearwater feeding on a school of fish. The captain explained, these birds have migratory range throughout the pacific but have limited their breeding activity primarily to the Poor Knights Islands. Their nesting behaviour almost drove the species to extinction. The Shearwaters ground based nesting burrows fell victim to introduced feral pigs. The number of birds dropped from the100 000s of breeding pairs to just 200 breeding pairs. Restoring numbers of Buller's Shearwater back to 100 000s of breeding pairs is one of New Zealand's conservation success stories. The pigs were removed in the 1930s and the breeding pair numbers remain in the 100 000s today.
The Poor Nights Islands, are the remains of an ancient volcano, that is slowly being eroded away by the wave action of the sea. Over time caves and arches have formed at the water line. These geological features provide a challenge and interest to the snorkelling and kayaking experience. I am cautious in the ocean waters. Derek on the other hand takes to the open water with confidence. He loved venturing into the sea caves.
Janice kayaking & Derek snorkelling in sea caves. Photo credit 'Perfect Day' Facebook
Even better, 'Perfect Day' goes on a neat sight seeing adventure around the islands. Riko Riko cave is touted as the largest sea cave in the world, and sailing into Riko Riko cave is part of the onboard 'Perfect Day' experience. Just Wow!
The Marine Environment
The waters surrounding the islands are deep, clear and teaming with marine life. Some of the species are found nowhere else in New Zealand but the Poor Knights Islands. Maroro Bay is known are the garden due to the kelp and sponges that line the rock walls and seafloor.
Photo credit above Perfect Day Facebook
I slid into the water and was immediately surrounded by schools of fish and the odd non-stinging jellyfish. I don't know all the different varieties but I was partially excited to see large Snappers gliding by. These are migratory fish, that are celebrated, as legendary eating and trophy fish in New Zealand. Below are two fine specimens of Australasian Snapper.
Goals reached 10/10 The Poor Knights Islands is a top natural attraction in New Zealand
Two Accommodation Booking Options