top of page

Snorkelling the Kaikōura Coast

Updated: Mar 25


Snorkelling at South Bay, Kaikōura - Photo by Helena Quilter
Snorkelling at South Bay, Kaikōura - Photo by Helena Quilter

On Saturday the 23th of March 2024, 65 participants braved the 15 degree waters of South Bay to get a glimpse into the biodiversity of the Kaikōura Coast during an Experiencing Marine Reserves Snorkel Day. Suits and brand new Wettie hooded vests donated by Abel Tasman Seashuttle were donned and briefings were done before dipping into a seaweed soup in the shallows.



Seaweed soup
Seaweed soup - Lorna Doogan

Participants didn't have to swim far for the visibility to open up. The hero of this coast is the rimurimu - seaweed. With red and brown algae dominating the seascape. Spotties dart in and out of the bladder kelp and bulbous wandering anemones adorn the carpophylluym.






Our Nelson team, Tasman Bay Guardians met in the middle with our Canterbury team, EOS Ecology to run this free community event with the support of Water Safety NZ.


Kaikōura locals ready for a dip - Lorna Doogan
Kaikōura locals ready for a dip - Lorna Doogan

We were lucky to have Ted Howard from the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust arrive with an endangered Kaikōura tītī which had crash landed the night before. The fledglings become disorientated by bright lights as they are making their first flight out to sea. Ruby Anderson was chosen to release the tītī back to the wild. She was slightly apprehensive, as Ted had said that they, " Are a bit bitey, but only draw blood sometimes".




Event organiser Thalassa Kawachi saying, “A huge thank you to our sponsor Water Safety NZ for making this event possible and to our volunteers who travelled from Nelson to help guide participants through this southern ecosystem. By offering this fun and engaging activity we were able to bring the community together, educate about the Water Safety code and marine reserves and promote kaitiakitanga.



It was a novelty to have such biodiversity so close to shore. From the snorkel site we could see dusky dolphins and seals playing in South Bay looking out towards the Hikurangi Marine Reserve. The reserve was established in 2014 and covers over 10,000 hectares out into the Hikurangi Trench.



A 3m whai - short tailed ray soaring overhead - Lorna Doogan
A 3m whai - short tailed ray soaring overhead - Lorna Doogan

A highlight of the day for Toni Rigarlsford was, "That it is an easy do-able interesting [activity] and was greatly meditative". Toni and her buddy were hard to extract from the water as they were having so much fun.


A kaikōura local diving down into the macrocystis - bladder kelp - Lorna Doogan
A kaikōura local diving down into the macrocystis - bladder kelp - Lorna Doogan

Local participant Susan Balwin saying, "I appreciated having a chance to safely try snorkelling in these waters".



Baru, Andrea, Eliska, Vitek and Vlad
Baru, Andrea, Eliska, Vitek and Vlad


Andrea, Eliska, Vitek and Vlad drove up from Christchurch for the event and gave us this feedback, "While we’ve all done some snorkelling before, we’re far from experienced and worried a bit about our son’s swimming ability, the ocean being cold etc. However, our “fears” quickly subsided when we came to the site. Everyone was so kind, patient, informative, enthusiastic and safety-conscious. Everything ran smoothly: from sign in, to gear selection, entering the water, snorkelling, and packing up. Even with photos along the way.


Needless to say, Baru was a great guide! Her enthusiasm was contagious as always but she was also very observant of all our needs, our young and skinny son getting cold, our daughter with excess energy and wishing for more challenge, my clumsy movements without glasses."



Regional coordinator Jude Heath peeling the seaweed off a young snorkeller after her dive - Lorna Doogan
Regional coordinator Jude Heath peeling the seaweed off a young snorkeller after her dive - Lorna Doogan

This event was funded by Water Safety NZ and the EMR programme was run by Tasman Bay Guardians in partnership with EOS Ecology.


It was fantastic day out snorkelling the Kaikōura Coast.


Images taken by Lorna Doogan & Helena Quilter - contact lorna@mountainstosea.org.nz for use.


 


 

Want to contribute to our mahi?






Tasman Bay Guardians and EOS Ecology teams
Tasman Bay Guardians and EOS Ecology teams


 

Looking for other fun opportunities in the Canterbury Region?


POOR KNIGHTS COMPETITION – An environment and conservation challenge for students aged 7–18. Being held for the first time in Canterbury. Find out about the competition and how to enter. Entries close 5 pm, Wednesday 10 April.


Download the criteria and information to apply here.


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page