Tale of two waterways: How pristine is our water?
When French explorer Jacques Cousteau named the Poor Knights Islands as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, he helped spark a global love affair with the rocky Northland islands.
The Knights now attract tens of thousands of divers every year, who come to see everything from manta rays, sharks and huge snapper, to brightly coloured sea slugs and sponges – as well as the cliffs, caves, and crystal clear water.
But it’s almost certain that none of this would have happened had they not become one of New Zealand’s first marine reserves.
At the time it was an unpopular decision – now no one’s complaining.
The Government plans to open 10 new ones by the end of the year – another is proposed for the Bay of Islands. Reporter Tristram Clayton caught up with an underwater cameraman who’s been filming the incredible beauty of the islands for over 15 years. Dave Abbott has been filming in these waters ever since the Poor Knights became a full ‘no-take’ marine reserve 15 years ago. “I have dived in a lot of places around the world, and a lot have that reputation of being top diving sites,” says Mr Abbott. “But for me this is really is difficult to beat, it’s right up there on a world scale.” Mr Abbott has done close to 1500 dives around the Poor Knights waters, and he is still surprised every time he dives. “Much of the diversity springs from the islands’ unique underwater topography,” says Mr Abbott. “Its location is at the point where warm currents from the north meet more temperate ones from the south.” But he says it’s the islands’ marine reserve status that allows that diversity to flourish.