[NOTE: This map will orient you: http://orvillelloyddouglas.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/new-zealand-map.gif
Indeed I do, rteitell.
You do not say if you're considering to the North Island (e.g., Wellington, Auckland), South Island (e.g., Christchurch, Queenstown), or both, but the best diving is done in the Bay of Islands up in the far NE of the North Island, mostly out the Paihia area. My fav site dive sites are in the Poor Knight's Islands
On the South Island the diving is more challenging and less hospitable, but there are couple of very nice wrecks (e.g, the Mikhail Lermontov).
The diving is done mostly out of the Picton area in the far NE.
Clearly you have some homework to do, but in the meantime, here's a snippet from my last NZ trip report:
here's a section of my last NZ trip report:
"Couple of hours heading NNW from Auckland on the typical winding NZ roads & arrived in the Bay of Islands region, at a town called Paihia. Being a dedicated resort town in the off season, it was mostly closed, but we did secure a large, modern room in a tiered motel (Beachcomber) with a splendid view. Only two real restaurants operating past about 7PM, and we chose "Fish Only," which prepared quite good food, with a bowl of fresh NZ green-lipped mussels in a thick curry & coconut broth being especially memorable on a cool evening.
The Bay of Islands is a bay on the upper/central east coast of the Northland, consisting of about 150 small islands & dozens of coves which have largely escaped development (Although a few are owned & developed by fabulously wealthy moguls with old family names). It is the site of the first permanent English settlement in NZ & the point from which colonialism spread (But, hey, who really cares now other than Kiwi high school history teachers?).
Hooked up with Paihia Dive & Charter, a capable but somewhat indifferent dive op who, thank the lord, were able to set me up with a 7 mil wetsuit which sort of fit. First stop was the Rainbow Warrior, which as you may recall was the Greenpeace ship sunk by French Secret Service agents in 1985 because of its interference with French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Deaths occurred & the French allowed several agents to be tried only on the condition that they be imprisoned in a French facility on a neighboring island. They were kept there for a few years until the smoke blew over, then quietly released - my, my, imagine that. Anyway, it was actually blasted in Auckland Harbour, but later towed up here to make an artificial reef.
After a short boat ride to the site, the Good Doctor, a fair water diver if there ever was one, was in for quite a thrill as he slipped into the low 60's agua (Although this was actually pleasant relative to my dive in the Milford Sound area a week or so later). After realizing that I might not die, we dropped down to about 70' for a good view of the craft resting on a sand bottom, looking rather serene given its history & all. Although Paihia said to expect viz of about 70'-75', it was more like 40'-50' feet, possibly due to some recent turbulent weather, but enough to appreciate a fair encrustation of soft corals and anemones in a variety of colors - hard corals don't seem to like these water temps very much. Firsts for me were Kingfish, which look like they're coated with mercury & can step out like a ravenous barracuda when they have a mind; John Dory, which are remarkably thin (much like the Orange Filefish one occasionally sees in the Caribbean), with great cur! vilinear camouflage which can alter pattern & color with astounding rapidity; & reddish hued Snappers of fair size which looked like they would be wonderful sauteed very fresh with a light batter & cold beer (A Black Mac, maybe?). There was adequate bottom time to explore the craft fully, and I was more than happy to surface after about 40".
The second dive of the day was at a very meager, shallow patch reef & sand bottom location, and was so marginal that I do not even remember the name. Nonetheless, I did see some neat critters, including a good sized black, hairy armed brittle star; healthy looking pale beige cushion star; some kind of weird brownish starfish that seemed to have arms growing out of the center of its body as well as radially; & a large black ray with a thick body.
Made the short drive south to Whangarei (The "wh" is pronounced as "f" - not my last mangling of strange Maori words which gave the Kiwis an inoffensive laugh) to dive the Poor Knights, said to be the best diving in the area reachable from a land-based op. Evidentially the Three Kings (Three rock stacks in the middle of no where) are the real hot ticket here, but are mostly short-term live-aboard action.
The Poor Knights Islands, a conglomeration of islands, rocks, arches, pinnacles & stacks, became a Marine Reserve (The highest level of environmental protection in NZ) as of 10-01-98. It apparently had enjoyed some form of protection for a year prior to this, but fishing at least was still allowed. Now all taking activity of any kind is strictly verboten. Of course, the fishing industry immediately responded by sinking FADs (Fish Attracting Devices) right outside the reserve to lure the marine life - Oh well.
With water temps still in the low 60's, viz improved somewhat, to about 60'-70', and we dove first Barren Arch (to about 100') & then Blue Maomao Arch (to about 60'). Again saw Kingfish, Snappers & John Dory, but added a new one, and my favorite of the NZ diving, the Blue Maomao. This smallish fish has a lovely blue coloration which fades to silver at the apex of the belly (The Red/Pink Maomao does the same in its hue). Its real attraction, though, is its mouth, which reminds me of the expression of a 3 year old who has just been frightened or fallen down is getting ready to let out that first bawl, lower lip curling upward & all - it's a riot. Also saw some good sized, clawless "crayfish" (Lobsters), black abalone, an octopus jammed back in a cranny, some nice yellow soft corals & gorgonians, & some kelpy looking vegetation. All in all, quite satisfactory."
Get you started?