Poor Knights Islands & Marine Reserve
The Poor Knights Islands stand near the edge of the continental shelf. They are the remnants of an ancient string of volcanoes. During the Ice Age, the surf pounded rocky beaches (now 20 – 40 metres below the surface) creating vast sea caves, tunnels and archways in the softer portions of the volcanic rock.
The Poor Knights rocky cliff faces soar hundreds of feet up in a vertical forest and plunge sheer through the water to depths as great as 100 metres.
The Poor Knights are now the most popular dive destination in New Zealand. Divers from all parts of the world visit this remote island group each year. The islands have well in excess of 50 exciting dive spots and lie in deep, clear blue water 25 km off New Zealand’s North East coast. A nature reserve above the waterline (no one is permitted to land on the Islands) and a marine reserve below allows the natural inhabitants to flourish.
The unique nature of these islands is due to a number of different factors:
- The close proximity to the continental shelf.
- The influence of the subtropical current from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
- A wonderland of sub-aquatic arches, caves and tunnels.
- The clarity of the water caused by the absence of runoff from rivers, streams and oceanic currents
The Knights have become a nursery area for sub-tropical fish species establishing themselves among the New Zealand fish life and adapting new colours and feeding habits in NZ waters. There is an amazingly colourful array of sponges, anemones, sea urchins, nudibranchs, kelp and seaweed as well as pelargic and reef fish (more than 100 species), great for photography.