Wreck and Reef day trips. 

 1st Sunday of each month

 One dive on the Waikato Wreck and one dive at the Poor Knights Islands from $229.

On the first Sunday of each month we try to run a Wreck and reef trip where we do one dive on the Waikato Wreck and then head over to the Poor Knights for our second dive of the day on the reefs.

Divers must have their 30 metre rating for this trip as the wreck is deeper than 18 metres.

2 dive day on the wreck from $229

Dive the HMNZS Waikato Wreck in New Zealand

We are lucky enough to have two of the three ex NZ Navy Leander Class frigates sunk for divers right on our door step. HMNZS Canterbury is in Deep Water Cove in the Bay of Islands and the HMNZS Waikato, sunk off Ngunguru Bay.

At 113.4m long, 12.5m beam and a draft of 5.5m HMNZ Waikato was the first of the Leander class frigates built for the NZ navy in 1966. Decommissioned in 1988 and sunk in late 2000. The Waikato rests in two pieces leaning on its side in water 28m deep at 35,39.165 South and 174,32.670 East.

Diver Level Advanced Open Water and above (if you don’t have an Advanced Certification then you can add a Deep Adventure dive for an additional $50) 

Depths 15m to 32m

Great for wreck diving and technical diving.

We plan to dive the wreck at least once a month, but HMNZS Waikato Wreck is in an exposed area. This means that despite our best intentions we won’t always be able to get to the Wreck as advertised.  

On the first Sunday of each month we attempt to the the Waikato wreck as dive one and then head to the Poor Knights for dive two as past of our SSI Advanced Adventurer course.

Other times of the year we try to add two dive wreck days, but these can be last minute when we see a weather window or on our prescheduled trips we may have to adjust the trip based on the weather.  We will either complete 2 dives on the Waikato Wreck, 1 dive at the Poor Knights and 1 dive at the Waikato Wreck or if the weather doesn’t allow any diving on the Waikato Wreck then we will be doing 2 dives at the Poor Knights. 

Waikato Dive Site

HMNZS Waikato rests at approx. 28/30metres on the sand.  When she was sunk she landed upright on the seabed, but due to a fault known by sailors who served on her, the bridge was damaged and separated on impact and with the powers of nature and the storms that frequent the Tutukaka coastline have separated from the bow and over the past 20 years has slowly moved the bow further from the main portion of the wreck and increased her list to port, so that she now lies at almost 45 degrees to the sand.

Large holes were cut into her to make entry and exit very safe for trained wreck divers to gain valuable wreck diving experience from the vessel. The shallowest part of the wreck is only 12/14 meters from the surface.

Waikato Wreck Dive - Dive Now

There is a mooring line attached to the wreck. This is maintained by Dive Tutukaka at the time of writing, but it does regularly go missing and so the replacement may change position.  Be sure that you lay a surface current line and float and even a line from the stern to bow for your divers to comfortably reach the descent line in a surface current.

The main thing about this wreck is that it now lays on its side and that can really mess with our brains.  Plus it is in an exposed area, so the kelp can be moving around with any swell, add this to the fact the ship is on its side and that gives you the potential for a vertigo like symptoms.

As the entire bow section including the guns has been sheared off from the main bulk of the ship just in front of the bridge, it makes for an amazing view as you can hang just off from the break and see into all of the deck levels. 

Waikato Wreck Dive - Dive Now

If you have enough gas, NDL, and time you can follow tour compass or on a good day –  visibility permitting you can head over to the bow section and check out the guns, the bow and the shell storage before heading back to the mooring line on the main part of the wreck.  On the way back, orientate the ship on to your right shoulder and follow the starboard railings back toward the helicopter hanger opening so that you can ascend back up the mooring line for your exit.

Compared to Canterbury as a dive, the Waikato may be on its side and in two pieces, but it has its guns and screw (prop).

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.

Waikato Wreck Dive

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 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 mighty river.


  • Displacement: 3182 Tonnes
  • Length: 113.4 meters
  • Beam: 12.4 meters
  • Draught: 5.6 meters
  • Machinery: Twin steam turbines driving twin shafts 30,000 horse power total
  • Armament: Twin 115mm guns Wasp helicopters carrying homing torpedoes. Two twin barreled torpedo tubes. One Phalanx closed weapon system.
  • Maximum speed: 30 knots
  • Complement: 239 (19 Officers)

We try to offer this as once a month on a Sunday in combination with our Advanced Adventurer course for the Deep and Wreck dives if sea conditions allow. 

If you have not completed a wreck diving specialty that qualifies you to penetrate the wreck, why not complete this with us? Learn to Wreck Dive

Trip Requirements

  • if you haven’t been in the water for over 12 months or haven’t dived in cold water and used a 7mm suit, then book onto a refresher in our pool before the trip.  This will ensure you are comfortable in the water before we go on the trip.
  • Bring along a copy of your dive certification.
  • If you would like to penetrate the Wreck then you will need an appropriate Wreck Diving Qualification
  • Please Note: Lunch is not included, so please be sure to bring along refreshments to keep yourself hydrated and the energy levels up.

Transportation is not provided by Dive Now Whangarei, but we do our best to help organise car pooling to the dive sites.


Full payment secures your space. 

If your plans change you can cancel up to 24 hours before the trip and receive a full refund.  Trips cancelled or failure to show up will result in 100% cancellation fee. 

If a trip is cancelled by us due to weather or for safety reasons, a full refund or store credit will be given. Trip pricing does not include transport. You will need to make your own way to the vessel departure point.

Opening Hours | Mon-Fri 8.30-5.00pm  | Saturday 8.30 – 1pm | Sundays Closed

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