Kermadec Island Trip Reports
Kermadecs 2013 by Irene Middleton
‘You’re going WHERE??’ Was the question we kept getting asked when we told people where we were going to spend our honeymoon and ‘You’re going to do WHAT??’ When they heard we were going to be sharing a cabin with four other people but for us, the amazing opportunity to visit New Zealand’s largest and most remote marine reserve at the Kermadec Islands was the ultimate honeymoon! With both of us being marine scientists, the Kermadecs had been on the top of our ‘must do’ list on the fridge for years; one we feared we may never cross off, when we heard of Pete Mesley trip, we signed up straight away! The juxtaposition between tropical and subtropical and the intense isolation of this amazing marine reserve was so alluring that even the epic boat trip to get there did not put us off! However, I must admit that after about 78 hours of pitching and rolling we were both thinking ‘is this really worth it?’
That question was soon laid to rest as we pulled into the sunny, calm and stunningly blue waters of Denham bay, Raoul Island. Coral bommies covered in tropical and not so tropical fish, friendly Galapagos sharks and 30m visibility miraculously made us forget all about the long journey to get there. We were buzzing to see two spot desmoiselles cruising over beautiful hard corals flanked by tropical butterfly fish, gold ribbon gropers and lionfish stalking the reefs. After every dive I thought ‘that was the best dive ever!!’
After a day at Denham bay we moved to the Meyer Islands, two small rocky outcrops renowned for their seabird colonies and within view of the DOC homestead on Raoul Island. The Terrain here was incredibly different, solid rocky reefs, canyons and caves dropping away to sand at around 30m. Again the visibility was amazing and to my relief the Galapagos sharks were slightly less ‘friendly’. It was at this dive site that we would tick off most of the unique species we wanted to see and photograph- Splendid Hawkfish, Striped Boarfish, Gold Ribbon Grouper, Banded Perch, Caramel drummer and many more. We found an amazing little cave where we discovered two Nudibranch species we had never seen before (even ‘Skip’ the walking, talking Nudibranch ID guide had never seen one of them before). Giant Black spotted gropers were common, moping in between beautiful purple gorgonian fans, and seaturtles shooting off as our bubbles startled them.
Being self-confessed ‘marine geeks’ many of the oddities of the Kermadecs were of particular interest to us, the shallow band between 0-5m was magical with schools of Caramel and Grey Drummer interspersed with the amazing yellow variants, huge Blue fish feeding on the algal turf, and schools of lazy Northern Kahawai. We also saw Kingfish swimming alongside their tropical counterparts, the Rainbow Runners and Almaco Jacks. At the end of every dive we’d head right up to the wash zone to check out the unique and bizarre Giant Limpet, these hand sized monsters of the Limpet world are a must see for anyone visiting this amazing marine reserve.
The trip home was smooth sailing compared to the outbound journey, and we all had time to sort through the thousands of photos taken. The Kermadec Islands are a place we will never forget, and due to the isolation I doubt we will have the opportunity to return anytime soon. This trip made one of our dreams come true and we could not have thought of a better way to spend our honeymoon.... even if it did mean sharing a room with 4 other divers!!
The Kermadecs are not for everyone and they aren’t an easy place to get too. Pete and his crew managed to arrange the ultimate (in our opinion) dive trip. Without Pete’s excellent knowledge of the islands, experience diving the area and outstanding organisation we’d probably would never had the chance to go to these amazing, remote islands. Thanks to Pete we made some lasting friends on this journey and have amazing memories to last us forever.