Maximum Depth: 25m
Shore, Wreck, Marine Reserve. Vis 2 – 10m. Novice to Advanced. The wrecks range in depth from 7m to 22m, with the shallowest, the “Mokoia” making a perfect training ground for entry level divers. Enter down rocks south of the clearly visible sternpost. Explore from bow to stern, check out the boiler room, and meet some of the friendly local inhabitants including blue moki, blue cod, terakihi, and the multiple southern inquisitive species of wrasse. Also, for those that enjoy a challenge, keep your eyes open for seahorses and octopus! Further down you can swim under the overhanging stern of the “Paloona” and check out the massive brass bolts that were used to attach the propellor to the hull. Look for Carpet Sharks sit under the hull on the sand. Further along still is the ‘swim-thru', possibly the “Dredge 222” or part of the “Paloona” The structure is now an encrusted framework of steel struts offering a semi-enclosed swim through experience. Look for the beautiful white endemic coral ‘dead man's fingers', common anemones, bright yellow ascidians, and purple and mauve sea tulips as you gently fin through one side and return down the other side. Further toward the end of the Mole sits the largest of the hulks "Moana" and finally the "Dry Dock Door". Both of these sit at depth so an Advanced Diver level and Boat support is strongly advised to dive these sites. The Mole also offers fantastic night diving, with carpet sharks, octopus, common conger eels, and a variety of crustaceans including small crayfish to be seen as you explore under torchlight.
If no swells have been hitting harbour side of the Mole for several days beforehand visibility will be at its best. Also watch diving here after rainy periods as the Otago harbour can become quite muddy / silty and visibility is often reduced. Watch for the eddying effect of the tides in some situations, can be identified by looking at which direction the macrocystis kelp is floating in.
The Harbour side of the Mole can become very tricky to enter and exit off the rocks, with the Nor'East wind being the predominant direction of swells to look out for, but anything from the East has been known to generate a little . Make sure you keep an eye on your equipment whilst gearing up at the water's edge. The wrecks themselves pose no immediate danger of an overhead environment as all areas have direct access to the surface, but the sharp edges of the rusted hulks could become hazardous so appropriate exposure protection is advised. Entanglement could also occur as the hulks have become a large area of bladder kelp forests and monofilament fishing line, a dive tool or knife is a must have for this environment. Small recreational fishing boats are often around as well, so make sure you have a surface float and flag to let them know you are diving in the area.
Sea and Weather Recommendations
Nor'East Swell as entry and exit could become difficult.
Situated just 35 minutes easy drive from Dunedin City at the mouth of the Otago Harbour is the Aramoana Mole. A 1.2km long manmade rock wall built in 1885 and reinforced by several scuttled hulks lying on the South side. The North side offers a shallow sand dive experience with flatfish, such as Sole and Flounder, common as well as thousands of hermit crabs and the occasional bobtail squid lurking just below the surface of the site. The Port of Otago has restricted access down the Mole by placing a gate at the start of the structure so a short surface walk to neccessary to access the sites unless you are accompanied by Dive Otago, the local dive centre.
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