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Dive Review of Fiordland Charters/MV Pembroke in
New Zealand/Fiordland, South Island

Fiordland Charters/MV Pembroke: "My favorite diving in all the World", Apr, 2016,

by Dr Michael Davis Editor SPUMS, Christchurch, NZ ( 2 reports). Report 9179.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I have been diving in Fiordland for 25 years, and for much of that time on the MV Pembroke (through two owners). The vessel is very seaworthy and cosey but basic (bunk room for up to 5 and two tiny double-bed cabins both accessed through the bunk room - therefore, privacy is at a minimum; two toilet/shower compartments (care with water use)accessed from a side deck and a good, enclosed (very essential in this climate with >>100 inches of rain per year) aft deck for kitting up. The food is voluminous and usually superb, especially when supplemented with fresh fish and crayfish you catch during the trip. Some scuba gear and wetsuits are available for hire, but best to bring your own drysuit. The vessel takes eight divers. The main skipper/part owner, Derek Brown, is the best dive charter skipper I have ever encountered anywhere. There is one other skipper whom I have not been with but has a good reputation.

Access in and out of the water is good. All diving is conducted in "live-boat" fashion (anchoring in 400 ft of water off a drop-off is a bit of a challenge!!). Water Temperature 11-17 Celsius, visibility often 20m but this fails to describe the unique environment you experience, especially if there is a reasonable fresh-water layer after heavy rains - I will say no more as this is a very special part of the Fiordland experience.

For me, Fiordland is my favorite place to dive in all the world. Both the topside and underwater worlds are unique. Big black coral trees are everywhere, from shallow water to disappearing into the depths beyond diving range. Each tree is an ecosystem in its own right. This is truly a remote-diving experience.

Bear in mind that this is temperate water diving, preferably in a dry suit and is strictly for cold-water, experienced divers. Whilst we often have teckies on CCRs with us, this takes considerable organisation, which the operator will NOT do for you and is totally your own responsibility.

There are at least two other live-aboard operators working in Fiordland, but I know nothing about their set-ups.

Websites Fiordland Charters   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving In the past year:
Fiji (mediocre)
Fiordland, New Zealand (best diving in the world!)
Closest Airport Queeenstown Getting There Queenstown has international flights from Australia & domestic flights from the main airports in NZ. You still have a 2-hr drive and a lake ferry + coach trip over a dirt road or a helicopter flight into the vessel in Fiordland. This is remote diving with minimal communication with the outside world!

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 15-16°C / 59-61°F Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 10-30 M / 33-98 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions You are totally responsible for your own diving safety, bearing in mind that civilisation is a long way away and there is a mountain range between you and any medical assistance. The nearest recompression chamber is in Christchurch hundreds of km away.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments This can be a challenging environment for photography, which is why I have only given it 3 stars, but there are rich rewards to be had. I have been there with semi-professional photographers who absolutely love the environment and the filming challenges that it presents. Bear in mind that, if one has to fly in by chopper, payload can be a bit limited so choose sensibly what gear to bring.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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