New Zealand is a diving paradise. With accessible coastlines, marine reserves and hundreds of offshore islands, the underwater world is vast and diverse.
The late Jacques Cousteau once said that he thought that the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast, were one of the world’s top five diving locations. This is a measure of what you can expect when you go diving in New Zealand.
You can dive wrecks, drop-offs and sub-tropical reefs in clean, clear waters. You can explore huge kelp forests, swim with school fish or alongside dolphins. For a different adventure and experience, try kayak diving or a descent after dark.
Most of the popular spots are easily accessed from the mainland coast or you can take a boat to the more remote reefs and islands. Don’t forget your diver’s certificate card. And if you’re new to diving and would like to experience the wonders of the undersea world, lessons and certification in scuba diving are readily available as well as organized diving tours to show you the good places for your first dive.
Fishing in New Zealand is a popular sport, hobby and pastime. With lakes, rivers and ocean everywhere you look, fishing fanatics will be in their element.
You just have to go to any beach or wharf to see how popular fishing is in New Zealand. With more than 15,000 kilometres of coastline there’s a fish and a fishing spot with your name on it. If you’re up north you can expect to catch snapper, kingfish and tarakihi. In the far south, you’re looking at blue cod, trumpeter and grouper for your dinner. Snapper is the prized fish for most sea fishermen. Go snapping as they call it and you could be looking at a fish in excess of 10kg.
From December to June, it’s the big game fishing season, Head out on a charter from Russell or Tutukaka in Northland, or from Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty and you can be chasing some seriously big fish including marlin, billfish, yellowfin tuna and kingfish.
New Zealand’s crystal clear rivers and lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing with rainbow and brown trout being found in rivers and lakes of both islands and sea-run salmon in the South Island. Lake Taupo, in particular, is world-renowned for trout fishing.
Kayaking is one of the best ways to really explore the thousands of kilometres of New Zealand's magnificent coastline and inland waterways.
A guided New Zealand kayaking tour can take you anywhere from the crystal clear waters in Abel Tasman National Park to the sheltered Marlborough Sounds, or the towering grandeur of the fiords to open water safaris around, for example, the Bay of Islands and Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Paddle with dolphins; paddle around a marine reserve and jump in for a snorkel; paddle a Maori waka (yes, you can).
For fresh water kayaking try the Whanganui River, the longest navigable waterway in the country. It has a fair number of rapids but even beginner paddlers can navigate the river safely. For the thrill of whitewater try the Rangitaiki and Mohaka in the North Island or the Clutha and Kawarau in the South Island. And if you would like something a little more tranquil, lake kayaking is an easy way to master the art of paddling. On Lake Taupo you can paddle to see Maori rock carvings while on Rotorua’s crater lakes you’ll get a fresh view of the steaming geothermal activity that is the heart of this place.
Sailing & Boat Cruising
If you’re an experienced yachtsman you can charter a vessel and embark on your own sailing adventure or, if you want to relax and watch the world pass slowly by, you can opt for a skipper and crew.
Where to sail is up to you; there are certainly no shortage of choices. The marine reserves are good places to start; the Bay of Islands, Hauraki Gulf, and the Marlborough Sounds. The sheltered harbours and islands make for picturesque journeys before opening out to inshore cruising grounds. There are also a number of popular coastal journeys where you can moor each day in a sheltered bay before heading onward. The east coast, north of Auckland, on route to the Bay of Islands, the Kerikeri Inlet or the fiord-like Whangaroa Harbour is a particularly scenic cruise.
Boat cruising is a big part of the New Zealand experience. We have beautiful islands, harbours, gulfs and beaches waiting to be explored. Our mountainous landscape provides an abundance of pristine lakes and rivers, while our awe-inspiring fiords, sounds and glaciers draw visitors from all over the world.
You can hire a punt for an hour on an urban river, or spend days discovering untouched coast on a sailing vessel, houseboat or motor yacht. Be your own captain or hire professional crew.
New Zealand has four main cruising grounds – the Bay of Islands and Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf in the North Island, and the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland in the South Island. Glide through these majestic places on a day cruise or overnight boating trip. Some areas can even be enjoyed from the comfort of a cruise ship.
New Zealanders love to be out on the water, so why not come and join us? You're sure to be rewarded with sights and scenery, invisible from the land, that will simply astound you.
See more below about our Water Activities.
If surfing is your passion, you'll love New Zealand. You're always close to the sea, and chances are, there's a great surf break not far along the coast.
If you've thought about learning to surf, but never found the time, a New Zealand holiday is your perfect opportunity. Sign up for lessons at one of our surf schools and you'll arrive back home with a whole new set of skills.
If you already know how to surf, there are beach, reef, point and river-mouth breaks that will keep you busy for hours.
For a feast of great waves follow Surf Highway 45 around the Taranaki coast - it curves through 180 degrees, so there's always something happening. Further north is Raglan, which has achieved legendary status thanks to its epic left-hand point break. Other North Island locations - such as Piha, Muriwai, Waipu, Mount Maunganui and Gisborne - are pumping when conditions are right. In the South Island, check out Kaikoura and Dunedin.
New Zealand’s stunning coastal and lake side scenery makes windsurfing or kitesurfing all the more enjoyable.
Whether your preference is to explore calm inland waterways, chop jump across a harbour or wave sail off the face of a roller, there’s a perfect location waiting here for you.
Board hire and instructors are available at most of the popular windsurfing areas, which include the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Taupo, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.
If you’re fond of the water but also like to get air-borne, try kite surfing. This extreme water sport has a growing following in New Zealand. Harnessed to a paragliding-style kite with a small board attached their feet, kite surfers race across the face of wind - mainly on the water and at times in the air.