Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Trevors Rock, El Torito Cave, Poor Knights, NZ
The southern of the two major islands of the Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand is called Aorangi Island. About half way along the western side of the island is Riko Riko Cave. This huge sea cave is an iconic location at the Poor Knights and can be entered by even the largest of the boats that go out to the islands for diving and sightseeing.
The largest of the day sightseeing boats normally heads to the part of the island to the east of the cave as this is the most protected part and has the shallowest water so that the customers can snorkel and swim with ease. In this area there are a number of dive sites, one of which is called Trevors Rock. This is close enough to where the boat anchors that people can snorkel over to it. In addition, under the main part of the island is El Torito Cave.
|A photo of Trevors Rock - the large sightseeing boat in background||Kelly on the wall of Trevors Rock |
A GPS of S35Âș 28' 41.0" W174Âș 44' 13.2" (using WGS84 as a datum) will put you right near Trevors Rock. Make sure you take care as this rock is can be below water level at higher tides. It got its name apparently when "Trevor" (surname not known) ran his boat aground on it some time ago. When you see it, you can understand why he might have been able to do this.
Anchor to the north of the rock, making sure you are not able to swing over it if the wind changes direction (this may be what happened to Trevor). Straight towards the shore you should be able to see a small point. Under this is El Torito Cave. It is not really a cave, but an arch open at both ends. More about this later.
|Kelly examing the wall||The arch in the deepest boulder|
The main part of the dive site here consists of Trevors Rock itself as well as a series of boulders that run in an westerly and south-westerly direction from Trevors Rock. The bottom is sand, but with some rocks and kelp interspersed between.
From the boat, descend and swim south over to the wall of Trevors Rock. Once on the wall, follow it to the west. You will see that there is a ridge that slopes down. A short distance along you can cross over to the southern side of the boulders through a cap between Trevors Rock and the first boulder. Continue on this side. You will now be heading south-west.
|The smaller swim-through near the arch||Two of the large rays seen on the northern side of the boulders |
When I dived here the dive briefing was not all that accurate as it stated that if you kept following the boulders you would come to a small archway or tunnel through a boulder at about xx metres. However, when we followed these directions we ended up heading south and getting shallower or staying at the same depth. Kelly and I decided to turn back and head more west.
After the xxx boulder, if you head west and get deeper you will track around the southern side of some smaller boulders and then come to the back entrance of the arch. You can swim through this and come back into a sort of large canyon created between some of the larger boulders. This is the way we were supposed to come apparently.
|Kelly and another of the rays||The south-eastern entrance of El Torito Cave|
Anyway, if you come through as described by me, go a little way up the canyon before returned back towards the arch. Off to the right there is another sort of tunnel created by two boulders really close to each other. Go along and through this and out the other side. Follow the boulders and turn right once you come to the end of the largest one.
Follow the northern side of the boulders back up towards the shore. You may end up on boulders away from the ones that lead directly back to Trevors Rock. If you do, you will see the boat's anchor or even the boat itself above you when you get to xxx metres. Head south and you will strike Trevors Rock. Turn left and head east.
|Looking towards the northern entrance of El Torito Cave||Looking from the back of El Torito Cave |
Soon you will see another gap between Trevors Rock and the reef that leads back to the shore. Cross over to the southern side again and then follow the small wall. This will lead to the south-western entrance to El Torito Cave. As you approach the cave the depth will decrease to about three metres or so. Inside the cave can be as shallow as two metres at low tide.
Enter the cave and you will see by looking up that there are two entrances, one to the north and the other one you have just come through. Off to the right the cave goes a bit back into the island. Swim over and look back, you can get some interesting photographs from here. You probably have been down about 35 minutes by now.
|Sweet ceratosoma nudibranchs are fairly common at the Poor Knights||King wrasses are much more common here than in NSW waters |
Exit out the northern entrance and head out to the north-west and get a bit deeper. There are some interesting reef formations here. After 5 or 10 minutes, turn to the south and head back to Trevors Rock. You should not need to get deeper than 10 to 12 metres here.
Once back at Trevors Rock, gradually circle the rock and ascend as you go. Do you safety stop here before swimming back at five metres to the back of the boat.
This is not the best of the dive sites at the Poor Knights, but it is still a nice dive. I would have to put it in terms of enjoyment at 70% rating whereas virtually all the other ones are 90% plus.
When we dived here we had 25 metre visibility. The water temperature was a lovely 21ÂșC.
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