Wellington, New Zealand's cool capital, has many low-stress dive sites along its harbor with much of the diving in Wellington accessible from the beach. Divers seek the local 'high five': spotty, banded wrasse, blue cod, terakihi, and blue moki. Stingrays, eagle rays and fur seals also make appearances.
Taputeranga Marine Reserve is 6km from the city center, where rocky reefs form an attractive breeding ground for critters. While scuba diving in Wellington, it's not uncommon to be joined by a shiny entourage of cod and moki.
Swim-throughs and rock towers support nudibranch, jewel anemone, and large crayfish nests - a paradise for macro photographers. To top it off, the waters of this 'Shipwreck Coast' hold sunken fishing boats and ferries alike that all make unforgettable adventures.
Diving in Wellington can be done year-round: most divers wear a 7mm wetsuit or a dry suit to make the most of their time under water. In the harbour, you can expect midwinter water temperatures of around 53°F/11°C and 77°F/19°C in summer.
The marine life you can see is usually determined by the winds rather than time of year: a week of strong northerlies in winter can yield schools of mackerel, yellow-eyed mullet, kahawai, and kingfish. These smaller fish attract megafauna action like large pods of dolphin, or a pod of orca if you're lucky.
In more sheltered areas, where winds are lower, you can dive in Wellington with large groups of juvenile fish, stingrays and seahorse in as little as three meters of water.
Scuba diving in Wellington is very accessible. Located at the bottom of New Zealand's North Island, the city is easy to get to via several channels. You can fly non-stop to Wellington from all major eastern Australian cities in under four hours: Sydney (3h 47m) Melbourne (3h 38m), Brisbane (3h 25m) and Gold Coast (3h 40m).
Those traveling from Europe, the US or further afield will want to arrive into New Zealand via Auckland Airport for the quickest access to Wellington. A domestic flight from Auckland to Wellington takes just one hour.
Wellington is positioned on both of New Zealand’s two major state highways (SH1 & 2), so a road trip is also an option and will take around seven hours via the SH1. Divers usually head to Wellington's south coast, north coast or harbour for best access to sites.