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Posted by Linda Bird

I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Moehau Environment Group (a long established group who work with predator control in the northern Coromandel Peninsula) on one of their walks across part of Great Mercury Island along with Pete Corson of Department of Conservation and Andy Hopping – the resident Ranger on the island.  The purpose of the walk was to see and talk about the effects since the pests were eradicated on the island in 2014 – and enjoy the absolutely stunning scenery and bays along the way.

We learnt that without rats or cats (there has never been possums or stoats on the island) a number of things have flourished:

  • Pre-eradication there were 7 – 8 breeding pairs of Dotterals on the island.Today there are 25 breeding pairs and each of these had 3 eggs this season and likely to hatch them all and raise these babies.The national average for a breeding pair is less than 1.

  • Kaka have flourished in the bush and we saw and heard many of these beautiful parrots flying through the trees.

  • Kakariki have increased too and their calls were numerous.

  • Bumble bee populations have exploded – they burrow underground and were targeted by rats.Bumble bees are great pollinators – better than honey bees.

  • The island is home to the biggest amount of snail species in the country and it is thought they are increasing in numbers.


And really this is only some of the examples of change and is only the beginning of what this island can become.  For us scuba divers here in Whitianga, the benefits will likely extend to increased flora and therefore fish life along the coast of this island, as increases in seabird life and their fertilisation of the foreshore and sea fringes has downstream benefits.

The really important thing is for you – our boating population – to really be mindful when visiting this island and even if you intend to anchor just off any of the Mercury Island group, that you are maintaining pest control on your vessel and you are extremely careful not to harbour any pest in any bag or container that could escape onto these islands.

Tips to help keep your boat free of pests

  • Keep your boat tidy and clean.

  • Don't leave rubbish or fish scraps on board.

  • Before departure, inspect your boat for signs of rats and mice, eg chewed wiring or holes in gear or bags, and for insects (especially ants).

  • Owners of larger vessels are encouraged to maintain pest control on board. Use glue boards for insects, and traps or bait stations for rodents.

  • All food should be packed in sealed containers. Don't just use open shopping bags or cardboard boxes as these are known to harbour pests.

  • Do your loading in daylight hours. Most pests are active at night and will come aboard then.

  • Vessels should stay anchored offshore except for embarking and disembarking passengers. Tenders are OK as long as you inspected them for pests before arrival.

These steps will help keep the Mercury Islands pest-free and could also save you from pest damage on board your boat.

At the end of our walk Sir Michael Fay (one of the owners of the island) met us and it was great to hear his enthusiasm to continue this project and protect this very special part of our local environment and such an important jewel in the efforts for species preservation and protection.

If you are interested in volunteering on the island for a 5 day stint working on the projects they have going on there you can contact Andy Hopping, Ranger.

For more information

Peter Corson, Project Manager
Ahuahu-Great Mercury Island Pest Eradication
Whitianga Field Base, Department of Conservation
PO Box 276, Whitianga 3542





We are off to the tropics - Wanna Come?

Posted by Linda Bird

Join Dive Zone Whitianga on an epic adventure trip to Taveuni and dive through tunnels, along walls of white, purple and yellow soft corals while enjoying the view of marine life.  Weave in and out of bommies and keep your eye open for leopard sharks or blue-spotted rays.  You can expect to see plenty of pelagic fish species, barracudas, octopus, reef sharks and manta rays.  And if we get lucky with tides and conditions - we hope to dive the Great White Wall (no guarantees but the stars should align!).

Cost:  $3799pp (based on share twin)


Return flights with Fiji Airwaysfrom Auckland

Return Airport transfers

10 x dive package based on 2 dives per day.  Includes tanks & weights

7 nights twin/double share in an Ocean View Bure at Tavenui Dive Resort.
1 x night twin/double share in Nadi, Fiji Gateway Hotel (1 July)Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner while staying at Tavenui Dive Resort

In the translucent blue waters separating Vanua Levu and Taveuni — the second and third largest islands of Fiji — lies the Rainbow Reef. Among its many wonders is the Great White Wall, a sunken escarpment blanketed in luminescent white corals.The Rainbow Reef can be found in the Somosomo Strait located between the Fijian islands of Taveuni and Vanua Levu. It is considered one of the most famous dive sites in the South Pacific. The Great White Wall is a popular scuba diving site. It is named because of the white coral inhabiting the area between 15 and 65 meters

Consistently rated as one of the world's best dive sites, the wall is reached via a tubular swim-through and starts at a depth of 20 m. Between a tangle of flexible, treelike soft coral are explosions of the harder stuff, home to millions of beautifully colored anthias and other pelagic fish. Larger species of marine life lurk there too, including manta rays, barracuda and harmless reef sharks.This striking environment is the product of a rare phenomenon that sees a large volume of seawater forced through the narrow, shallow passage that is the Somosomo Strait. The pressure creates strong currents brimming with nutrients eagerly anticipated by the marine life, in particular the soft corals, which expand to their most enchanting at feeding time. "The best time to dive it is at low slack tide, when there is no current and the wall has been fed with nutrients for seven hours.

On land - Taveuni is known as the garden island - and for good reason.  The Bouma National Heritage Park is rich with hiking trails and wildlife, being home to more than 100 species of birds, including Kula Lorikeets, Silktails and Orange Doves.  Many areas of natural significance have been protected and are open for visiting nature lovers to enjoy - from mountain ranges to river gorges, mangrove forests and coral reefs. Intact forests stretch from mountainous peaks down to the coastline of some islands. Take a hike deep into these thick natural rainforests treating your lungs to some of the freshest air you will ever likely breathe. Discover waterfalls pouring into cool crisp pools you can swim in as you marvel at the beauty of the surrounding native plants and wildlife. 

Darrell and Linda are looking forward to this 9th trip away with a keen group of divers.  We welcome singles, couples, the older and the younger divers - just have a keen sense of fun and adventure and you are sure to enjoy experiencing one of our trips with like minded others.  Our daughter Caitlin (10 on the next trip) joins us on our trips and is always happy to have friends to hang with so if you need/want to bring a child or two they are welcome.  So if you think this trip is a bit of you then drop Linda an email and ask whatever questions you may have.



New Face(s) of Dive Zone

Posted by Nicki

WOW - what a month!

The opening of scallop season on 1st September coincided with unusually persistent rainfall, but those of you who braved the elements have reported that these tasty treats are fat & plentiful which is great news.

On a personal note, it’s been a month of preparation for some changes to the crew, so you’ll be seeing some fresh faces both in & out of the shop.  The end of September sees us saying farewell to Dania who is taking a much deserved break from the industry to pursue other interests.  I wish her every success in her future endeavours, even though she will be sorely missed here. 

It’s also time for me to say goodbye after 8 years at the helm, which has been a chapter of my life that’s presented more highlights & challenges than I ever anticipated.   That being said, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce the new owners Tony & Liz Plank, who are super excited to take the reins:

“Liz and I are really excited to be the new owners of Dive Zone Tauranga.  We are both keen divers who did our Open Water courses while on our OE 15 odd years ago – mind you, my Portsmouth in November (10 degrees 5m vis) was a bit different to Liz’s Dahab, Red Sea experience!  Since then we have experienced some cool dives on our travels and enjoy hunting and gathering locally.  We have two young girls who we are looking forward to introducing to diving once they are old enough.  We take over at the start of October, & Nicki is going to stay on for the first two weeks to show me the ropes, so why not pop in to say goodbye to her and introduce yourself to me … we’d love to see you!”

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your valued custom & loyalty, & I know that I’m leaving you in very capable hands with Tony, Liz & the rest of the Dive Zone Tauranga team.  



Diving with Family

Posted by Kelly

Spring is trying it's best to usher in warmer weather. School students are nearing the end of year exam countdown.

Many families will be looking forward to summer holidays. How about going diving together this summer?

There are some families who dive together but there are a surprising number of divers whose diving activities don't include other family members.

Undoubtedly part of it is that quite a few kiwi blokes want to hang out with their mates or don't have the patience to wait for their less experienced family members to "catch up".

To those guys I say -wait up! Do whatever it takes to get your kids to dive with you- there's nothing as special as diving with family. Turning around underwater and seeing one or two of your children following is an incredible feeling.


My father taught me to dive. I always thought I was the lucky one because he took me along but as a parent now I realise how awesome it must have been for him!

I have taught both of my girls to dive. They're not as keen to dive as I was. Their dad owns a dive shop so I think that they see it as something they can do anytime. We surf a lot together and always enjoy the dives we do together. They are my favorite dive buddies!!

Take advantage of the warm summer conditions coming up and get your kids certified - you wont regret it!! If you dive but your parents don't then tell them to try. I know several people who learnt to dive in their 60's so they could dive with their children. The oldest person I saw learn to dive was 70 and she's still diving at 82!!

Get out there and dive as a family this summer! If your not diving then surfing, fishing, camping - hopefully something outside. Whatever it is do it together.






Shore Diving

Posted by Nicki

The Bay of Plenty offers a number of offshore islands and reefs, but the reality is that not everyone has access to a boat to take advantage of these dive sites. 

Shore diving is a convenient & fun alternative, but still requires some careful planning.

1.  Select the Site

Your first priority is to check weather and tide forecasts.  The best time to dive is an hour either side of high slack tide, which will provide an extra bit of depth, while avoiding the risk of strong outgoing tides.

Take time to consider what the weather was like over the few days prior, as rain, wind & swell can have considerable impact on visibility. 

Keep a watchful eye out for possible hazards around the site (e.g. boat traffic / people fishing off nearby rocks etc) before you enter the water, & always display a regulation sized (600mm x 600mm) dive flag … a semi-rigid flag is best as it will be clearly visible at all times.

Check entry & exit points for ease of access.

2.  Gearing Up & Entry

Avoid gearing up too far away from the entry point to reduce the risk of overheating & fatigue. 

After performing your pre-dive safety check with your buddy, enter the water as soon as possible, don your fins, then take a few minutes to rest & relax on the surface before you start the dive. 

It’s a good idea to have a non-diving shore support person ready to assist in an emergency.

3.  Take a Transit Bearing

Line up a couple of obvious landmarks before descending, to pinpoint your position along the shoreline.  A distinctive tree close to shore and a powerline further away are an ideal example.  

Effective underwater navigation will help avoid a lengthy surface swim at the conclusion of the dive, when you’ll need to locate your exit point by lining up your pre-selected landmarks again.

4.  Plan the Dive

Plan the dive with your buddy, & stick to it.  Ensure you know who is leading, & agree on actions for unforeseen events such as buddy separation.

There are several shore dive sites that we utilise on a regular basis:  Pilot Bay, Leisure Island, Lake Rotoma & Rabbit Island.  If you’re not so keen on the surface swim to Rabbit Island (400m off Mount Maunganui beach), our hire kayaks are purpose designed for kayak diving, & provide a really fun alternative.