Cave Diving in New Zealand

New Zealand is a young and still geologically very active landmass. Several of our dry caves are world famous and we have a wide variety of different types of cave environment, from sea caves, to lava tubes and solution caves. New caves are continually being found and explored, so it would be impossible to list everything here - instead we have listed some of our favourites. We suggest you also check out our wreck diving and mixed gas diving pages as well.

Northland Sea Caves

Sea caves of various sizes dot the coastline all around NZ. We started exploring these caves and caverns in 2009 and have found several larger caves which make for good dives. On the Karikari peninsular, at Matai Bay, there are two large sea caverns, both of which extend into the cliffs for 100-150m. The depths are generally shallow and there is air above for most of the time, but in the back of the caves you will leave the light zone. The Cape Brett peninsular also has several sea caves with Cathedral Cave being the most impressive.

The Poor Knights Islands also have a large amount of caves and caverns. Taravana Cave is the longest discovered so far, being nearly 200m in distance. The huge entrance starts at 17m and drops to 35m. Other caves and caverns at the Poor Knights include: Crystal Cave, Red Baron Caves, Big-Eye Cave, Long Cave, Light-shaft Cave. In total there more than 15 sites which we use for cavern training at the Poor Knights making this an excellent place to begin your overhead environment training. Crystal Cave at the Poor Knights is unique in that it usually has a halocline in the chamber at the back.

All of these caves require boats in order to access them, with weather conditions often making access impossible.

Riwaka Resurgence

Located 20km from Motueka this cave system offers two fresh water sumps which are easily accessed and dived. The first sump can be free-dived whilst the second sump requires dive gear - approx. 70m long, to a max. depth of 9m. When the conditions are good visibility can be stunning in the crystal clear water.

For serious cave explorers there are many other sumps further up stream which can be dived, but to access these requires dry-caving equipment and experience.

Blue Creek Resurgence

Located 80km from Motueka this is a very challenging cave system with significant access issues. The cave entrance is a 1.7km bush walk from the nearest road access. The entrance tunnel itself drops steeply to 35m, where it splits into several side tunnels, with the main tunnel continuing to drop until it reaches 60m+. Water temps in the summer are around 6-7 degrees celsius, and access is only possible during dry periods of weather. Additionally there are no diving facilities in the area so you must bring all your own equipment. However, if you do have the skills and time to get into this system the diving is beautiful.

Other cave options

Pearse Resurgence: Another very challenging cold water cave system near to Blue Creek. Recent exploration has taken this system to a depth of 225m - tunnel is still dropping - making it a hugely complicated and difficult dive. The entrance is located 6km from the nearest road access.

Waitomo Area: This area in the central north island has many many caves, but due to extensive farming and logging over the last 100 years the majority of caves have been clogged up with mud. All diving in this area is in very low visibility and generally done by cavers looking for more dry passage, rather than divers who enjoy cave diving.


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