Scuba diving is not an activity commonly associated with Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. The weather is overcast and grey a good portion of the year which goes some way to explain the vibrant food and drink scene in town.
But scuba divers would be remiss to skip Wellington in their search for the perfect dive. The city is surrounded by water and countless large mountains dropping dramatically into the ocean. So after some procrastination about the water temperature we headed off to meet with the guys at Dive Wellington.
Dive Wellington is in the ocean side suburb of Island 5km south of the Wellington CBD. Their shop is located across the road from the Taputeranga Marine Reserve. So shore diving is dead easy, get changed and gear up at the shop walk across the road and your in the water!
Photos on the wall of the shop made the diving in the reserve look amazing. But we came for the wreck diving ( lust for rust! ) so a shore dive at the shop will unfortunately have to wait for another day.
Built in 1966 and originally named HMS Bacchante, the now HMNZ Wellington turned kiwi in 1982 when she joined the New Zealand Navy. Providing many years of loyal service to her new country until 1999. After which she was sold by the government for $1 to be sunk as a dive wreck.
It took until 2005, and a few delays in the sinking before the ship was finally delivered to its current watery home. But its rest was short lived with a storm in 2006 splitting the wreck into two parts. The bow is now lying on its starboard side on a sandy bottom. With the bridge and rest of the wreck broken off behind the deck cannons on the bow lying nearby.
While it would have been nice to experience the HMNZ Wellington before she got split up. The carnage of the wreck being split in two made for some really interesting diving. A highlight being the twin 4.5 Inch guns at the back of the bow section. The maximum depth of both sections of the wreck is 21m (68ft) which is perfect, giving you plenty of time to look around.
The exterior of the wreck is covered in sea stars, kelp, ascidians and sea tulips. Rock lobsters are common sight in the crevices and dark corners of the wreck. With a large amount of fish swimming around the structure.
Diving The Wreck
Dive Wellington can be reached easily by car, taxi or bus ( easy to remember its route 1 ). The shop runs regular trips to the wreck as the weather permits with the wreck only being a 5 minute boat from the shop itself.
A double dive on the wreck cost us around $140 NZD each with close to full gear hire ( Travelling with our own regulators, computer, gloves and mask ). The hire gear was good, mares 7mm wet suit, fins, comfortable BCD and steel tanks so no complaints there.
Both of the dives were unguided but thanks to the great dive briefing given by the Skipper Dave on the boat. We had a good grasp of the dive site before hitting the water.
Honestly given our time in the area I was expecting the water temperature to be cold! But it was February and the water was a steady 17 degrees.
That’s not to say the water is always warm though. Talking to some of the locals aboard the boat, I am told the water temperature hits 12 – 14 in July / August. With the occasional cold current moving through the area and dropping the mercury down as far as 10.
Dave and the crew were great in our time there is you are in the area. I highly recommend you go dive with them! My only complaint was I ran out of time in the area to do some of the other dives.
Dive Wellington – Website
432 The Esplanade, Island Bay
Wellington 6023, New Zealand