Wreck Diving in New Zealand

Whilst NZ may not have hundred's of wrecks to explore some of the ones we have got offer superb diving. The wrecks detailed below are the ones we've chosen as our favourites. We suggest you also check out our cave diving and mixed gas diving pages as well.

Mikhail Lermontov

At over 175m long and nearly 20,000 tons this Russian cruise liner is an extraordinary dive. She sank in February 1986 after striking well charted rocks, going down with the loss of only one life. Launched in 1972 this magnificent liner was the pride of the Russian cruise fleet and was luxuriously fitted out.

Whilst not a deep dive, 12-38m, this wreck offers challenge enough for everyone. Less experienced divers can enjoy many dives exploring the outside and some of the easily accessible areas such as the bridge and swimming pool, whilst experienced divers can delve deeply into the tight and twisted interior. Great dives include the Leningrad Restaurant, the kitchens, a complete end to end traverse of the Lounge Deck and the cavernous engine room.

The wreck lies on her starboard side, which can make navigating inside the ship very disorientating. We would advise doing multiple dives in order to familiarise yourself with this wreck and ensuring you have excellent buoyancy, trim and finning technique as the interior is very silty.

Rainbow Warrior

This flagship of the Greenpeace fleet was blown up on July 10th 1985, by limpet mines placed by the French Intelligence Service [DGSE], whilst moored in Auckland Harbour. A Greenpeace photographer died in the incident and the public relations disaster which followed when the truth finally came out resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister and the firing of the head of the DGSE.

The ship was initially refloated but after forensic examination and inspection she was deemed irreparable and she was towed to Matauri Bay, near the Cavalli Islands and sunk as an attraction for divers on December 2nd 1987.

The wreck sits upright in approximately 26m of water and is 40m in length. Penetration is possible but limited and many sections have started to collapse. Although only a small wreck there are many opportunities for beautiful photos as she is covered in encrusting life.


This was the first of the Leander class frigates owned by the Royal New Zealand Navy. She arrived at her home port of Mount Maunganui in June 1967 and was decommissioned 1998. She was sunk as an attraction for divers in November 2000.

The wreck is located a short boat ride to the south of Tutukaka Harbour, at a depth of approximately 30m. She has broken into two parts just forward of the bridge, with the larger stern section having a 45 degree list to port and the bow section lying 15m away and completely on it's port side.

There are many penetration options and lots of additional holes cut into this wreck, however due to the port list many of the holes on the lower port side are now buried in sand. The engine room and boiler rooms make for interesting dives, but be careful as much of the equipment has shifted over time, making the deep side of the wreck very cluttered.


This was one of two Leander class frigates operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1971 to 2005. She is 113m long and 13m wide and was purposely sunk as an attraction for divers in November 2007.

The wreck is located at Deepwater Cove in the Bay of Islands at a site sheltered in most weather conditions. She is fully intact and sits upright. Depths range from 12m at the funnel to 38m at he stern. Whilst plenty of additional access holes have been cut for divers there are still dark areas to explore and plenty of machinery and other items still inside the ship.

This is a great wreck for building wreck penetration experience and technique.

Other wreck diving options

The following are all NZ wrecks which we have either dived and enjoyed or are currently on our to do list: Tui, F69, Minato Maru, Seafire, SS Taioma, Lastingham, Port Kembla, Holmglen, Hippolas, RMS Niagara.

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