With a mixed group of divers, from Novice to Advanced – the Hauraki Express departed Omaha for Little Barrier. Perfect seas made for a fast transit and a loop around the Eastern side of the Island to where the Topography gets weird. With Only a slight swell, the anchor is dropped in shallow water adjacent to the sea-spire of our choosing and the dive begins. This is the 1st Open water dive for a group of SSI graduates. Under the expert tuition of our SSI Dive Guide, predictable issues are amended in the water and bit by bit the group finds their way around the rock.
For our practiced divers onboard, they descend immediately & surface 45 minutes later with stories and laughter. We pack and motor 10 minutes to a cove around the Island.
Again – the anchor is dropped in clear, shallow water. Some take the opportunity for a bite to eat, while others snorkel through their surface interval. This site is an amazing mix of life through the water column as the bouldery shallows slope down kelp covered faces to a white sandy floor at 25 meters below.
The various groups kit up, enter and descend immediately in alternate directions. This site is dive able at just around any point of the compass. Almost an hour later in twos and threes they emerge, again chuckling over experiences and encounters. We board in pairs, pack the boat and enjoy the afternoon sun.
On the way back to the mainland a whale venting is spotted off our bow. The engine is cut and we all stand in silence. A mother Bryde’s whale and her calf divert their meanderings to inspect our boat. We stand aghast as the calf circles the boat upside down for pass after pass. After a few minutes, their curiosity sated, they continue North. We restart the engine and speed on to the mainland. What a gift these Islands really are. Only an hour from our largest city, encounters like these – while not frequent, are possible. We are very lucky to have this ‘Big Blue Backyard’ to play in.