|Tāhwaranui - Goat Island Adventure Snorkel Trip Report
Saturday 6th of June 2020
Images from the day
Hassle free fun - The 45 minute drive up to Sandspit Wharf was pretty much the only effort required to experience what is arguably one of the best days out you can have. Experiencing Marine Reserves takes care of almost everything you need. They provide gear, guides, safety, logistics and of course, making sure you have loads of fun.
Led by Sophie and Lorna from Experiencing Marine Reserves and Kurt from Gulf Eco Adventures we set out on the boat Eco Warrior for the Mokohinau Islands. As we approached the exit to Kawau Bay it was decided to adjust our trip destination and go to Tāwharanui and Goat Island instead. An electrical alarm had gone off and with our safety in mind, Lorna, Sophie and Kurt chose to stay closer to land. Despite what I can only assume was a big decision on their part, I was never in doubt that we were going to be treated to some prime snorkeling. The minor setback did nothing to hinder an idyllic day, blue skies, calm waters and best of all, snorkelling.
As we arrive at Tāwharanui we’re given a safety briefing and told about what marine life we may see, what underwater features to look out for as well as handy tips about hand signals and snorkeling etiquette. After buddying up, we splash down and get our first glimpses of what underwater life New Zealand has to offer. As my eyes begin to adjust I soon see the regular spotties, snapper, blue maomao, red moki and a hiwihiwi hanging out in the shallows. Sweeping around the bay I finally spot some crayfish hiding under the rocks in the shallows, a pleasant site given the dwindling numbers in the Hauraki Gulf. After what felt like no time at all, but turned out to be an hour, we all regrouped on the boat and had a bite to eat while Kurt took us to our next spot, Goat Island!
Still buzzing from our first dive, we gear up again, go through our site safety briefing and we’re back in the water. Lorna’s local diving knowledge comes in handy when she mentions there’s a tree (now underwater) which had been knocked off the cliff during a recent storm. A reasonable depth down it’s an opportunity to practice my freediving skills. Circling around the bay I spot the usual suspects underwater. Surprisingly it was a critter above water that stole the show on this dive. After popping my head up I happen to glimpse what appears to be a rock moving. Thinking I’m going crazy or my eyes are playing tricks on me I keep looking at it. After what I can only say was an embarrassingly long amount of time I finally figure out what I’m looking at, three New Zealand fur seals snoozing on the rocks. Being careful not to approach too close, we watch as they sun bathe on the rocks. A perfect way to cap off the day.
The boat ride back was filled with excitement as we recounted all the animals we saw and tried to identify those that we didn’t know. I can’t say enough how much fun I had and how valuable this trip was to me. The snorkelling was more educational than any classroom and a lot more exciting. Thank you again to Lorna, Sophie, Kurt and everyone else who made this trip possible and I’ll see you on the next one.
-- Written by Kieran Jaunay