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.

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Diving Conditions

The Poor Knights is rewarding at all times of the year but conditions do vary considerably.

November to late April
Presents excellent all round diving. The water is a warm 20 to 23 degrees Celsius and the water is clear, averaging 20 metres visibility. This is the summer season so you can expect mild air temperatures too.

Between late September and early January
The water is warming, which sometimes causes Plankton bloom, which can reduce visibility to as little as 5 - 10 metres at times. However, there is a great abundance of fish and bird activity during this time.

From May to early September
The visibility is superb while the temperature falls to a winter low of 14 to 16 degrees Celsius. Often calm periods of weather occur over this time and visibility in excess of 30 metres can be encountered.

Knight Diver Tours run trips to the Poor Knights on a daily basis throughout the year. Whether you are a novice or an experienced diver, with all the dive sites available we can offer safe, challenging and spectacular dives for you when you dive with us on board Knight Diver. Experience the best the Poor Knights can offer by diving with the divers that know its secrets best.