How to have a perfect day as a non diver in the Poor Knights

The Poor Knights are something that I’ve heard a lot about through James.  He’s dived there quite a few times when he was younger, sailed there with his Dad as a young boy and it’s also where his Dad’s ashes are scattered.

We hadn’t planned to go out to the Poor Knights.  I’d asked James if he wanted to take his dive gear up but he’d said no – he was out of practice.  James had talked about it so much as a divers paradise that I’d put it in the realm of the expert diver rather than the “flopping around on the surface” that the rest of us did.  I’d had a cursory look before we left and decided it was probably too expensive for all 5 of us and left it at that.

However, day 2 dawned on our stay at Tutukaka and it was beyond perfect.

There was a light fog over the harbour with boats emerging from the mist to make their way, ant like, to the Poor Knights for the day.

View from pacific rendezvous resort

As the fog cleared and revealed cloudless blue skies and flat seas I started having a search for non diving trips to the Poor Knights.

A perfect day

It turned out there was a perfect solution for us non-divers.  A Perfect Day Cruises were run by Dive Tutukaka and there was one leaving at 11.

Now I’m not going to say this was a cheap day out.  At a little over $600 for the 5 of us it was a big chunk of our holiday budget but luckily the rest of our activities in Tutukaka were free so it does even itself out and looking back, it was worth every cent!

A Perfect Day - Tutukaka, Poor Knights

From the start it felt like the crew were on an adventure with us rather than going through the motions of a day at work.

A perfect Day Tutukaka

Soph is our youngest and a mad fan of the ocean (especially sharks) but not such a fan of boats.  She sat up the top with the Skipper Steve and in no time at all had forgotten altogether that she didn’t like boats and was busy helping him spot dolphins.

A Perfect Day Cruises

On the way

We were so lucky with the marine wildlife we saw on the way out there.  Helped in a large part by Steve heading in which ever direction looked like we may spot something interesting.

We saw massive amounts of birds resting on the water. I’m not going to pretend that I remembered what they were called and if I’m honest I’ve always been a little scared of birds, but the site of so many birds in one place was just incredible!

Poor Knights A Perfect Day

We spotted a Mollymawk Albatross. 

We saw a penguin and a seal.

And we saw Dolphins!  So many dolphins that played alongside the bow of the boat.  Eliciting screams of joy from the many kids on the boat (and a few of the adults). 

Poor Knights A Perfect Day
Poor Knights A Perfect Day

At the Poor Knights

Once we arrived at the Poor Knights we anchored in a sheltered spot just down from the Riko Riko Cave.

A Perfect Day - Tutukaka, Poor Knights

Wetsuits and masks are included in the price and once we had wriggled our way into these (it’s a pretty tricky thing to do!) we were off exploring.

A Perfect Day - Tutukaka, Poor Knights

It was mine and the kids first time snorkelling so I didn’t know how we would all take to it but it’s actually really easy (and amazing).

Soph swam up to me after just snorkelling out of a sea cave and said “this is the best day of my life” with the most giant smile on her face.

A Perfect Day - Tutukaka, Poor Knights

The wetsuits kept us really warm and despite it being October we were in the water for over an hour without getting cold.

My only regret was that we hadn’t thought to bring the go-pro with us to capture some of the amazing things we saw under the water.  But trust us, it was epic!  And it’s another reason to go and explore for yourself.

Once back on board it was time for lunch.  A yummy selection of fruit, salad and sandwiches with some hot drinks to warm back up.

After that it was time for some more exploring.  We went into the Riko Riko cave – the largest sea cave in the world.

Riko Riko Sea Cave

The acoustics in here are amazing and the water reflecting on the roof gives it an other worldly feel.

While in the cave our Skipper told us a little more about the history of the island.  My memory is terrible (and I often get into trouble for telling these stories wrong) so I’ll leave it up to the guides to tell you when you go on your cruise – rest assured the story will include the tapu on the island, some fairly brutal wars and a lot of mystery and intrigue.  

After that we went cruising through sea arches (with the girls laying on the front of the catamaran) including the largest one in the Southern Hemisphere (I do love how NZ lays claim to so many of these biggest stories).

A Perfect Day - Tutukaka, Poor Knights

And as if that wasn’t enough, on the way home we got treated to a practice sea rescue with another of Dive Tutukaka’s boats and a helicopter.

A Perfect Day - Tutukaka, Poor Knights

It really is very aptly named – A Perfect Day. We’d thoroughly recommend it as a family day out.

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