Additions to the underwater playground off the coast of Tutukaka in the last ten years are two ex-naval ships. Strategically sunk to make artificial reefs, the former research ship HMNZS Tui and ex-combat frigate HMNZS Waikato, that make a fantastic days diving.
Diving the Twin Wrecks of the Tutukaka Coast
Wreck of the HMNZS Tui
HMNZS Tui was formerly USNS Charles H. Davis (T-AGOR-5) and was 1 of 9 Conrad class oceanographic ships built for the United States Navy that later saw service in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Serving with the United States Navy from 1963 to 1970 to perform acoustic experiments on sound transmission underwater and deep-ocean floor studies.
The ship was recommissioned into the the Royal New Zealand Navy in late 1970 as HMNZS Tui served as an oceanographic survey and research ship until her decommissioning in 1997. In 1999, the ship was scuttled as a dive wreck. The HMNZS Tui protected New Zealand's anti nuclear protest fleet at Mururoa.
At 62 meter (203 ft) long she now lies in 30 meters (104 ft) of water just 2km (1.2 miles) north of Tutukaka Heads. Easily penetrated through purpose cut access points, explore the control room, bridge, crew living quarters and engine rooms via established routes.
Displacement: 1300 Tonnes
Length: 62 metres (203 ft)
Beam: 11.4 metres (37 ft)
Machinery: Shaft diesel-electric.
Wreck of the HMNZS Waikato
HMNZS Waikato was purposefully sunk in November 2000 and now lies 30 metres (98 feet) down and bolt upright on the seabed. She has large holes cut in the side to make entry and exit very safe and less experienced divers will gain valuable wreck diving experience from the vessel. The shallowest part of the wreck is only 8 metres (26 feet) from the surface.
Built by Harland & Wolfe Ltd, Belfast, the Waikato was launched by HRH Princess Alexandra on 18 February 1965. She was the first Leander Class frigate to be built for the Royal New Zealand Navy. The ship took her name from the North Island province of Waikato and was the first New Zealand commissioned naval vessel to bear the name. She was adopted by the Waikato city of Hamilton and the ships company participated in a final Charter Parade in the city as part of the decommissioning.
In her service days the Waikato was fitted with modern air and surface warning radar and navigation aids along with undersea detection equipment. The ships twin 115mm (4.5 inch) guns had a long range and a high rate of fire. The ships crest features a Taniwha, a water monster and legendary guardian of the Waikato people and their river.
Displacement: 3182 Tonnes
Length: 113.4 metres (372 feet)
Beam: 12.4 metres (40 feet)
Draught: 5.6 metres (18 feet)
Machinery: Twin steam turbines,
Armament: Twin 115mm guns (4.5 inch)
Maximum speed: 30 knots
Complement: 239 (19 Officers)
Minimum dive guideline
Both the wrecks are deep dives, with minimum dive guidelines. We require you to have 15 logged dives for the Waikato and 35 logged (with an Advanced Certificate) for the Tui. You must have dived in the last six months.
If you have less dives, you can still dive the Waikato - You can join a special Adventure Dives with an Instructor (which count towards an Advanced certification).
|Dive Site||Profile||Viz||Temp||Notes / Restrictions|
8-30m (26 to 100ft)
15-22°C (59-72 °F)
Minimum dive guidelines (above)
|HMNZS Tui||23-30m (75 to 100ft)||10-15m (32-50ft)||15-22°C (59-72 °F)||Minimum dive guidelines (above)|