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Cape Saunders

Produced by the Otago University Dive Club

The Cape on a rough day. Impressive, but best enjoyed from onshore until the conditions improve.

Access: The road (track might be a better description) is not suitable for low slung vehicles, though a determined pilot might make it down okay in a vehicle with minimal ground clearance. Can get muddy when it rains so a 4WD is recommended. Park at the locked gate with the koha box on the post and make your way down the fenceline heading down the hill to the east. Pick your way down the cliffs and for Gods sake make sure you have a competent, properly equipped shore party who can help with getting in and out of the water - access is not for the faint hearted!

Weather / Sea conditions: The Cape is very exposed to the south, southeast and southwest. It should not be attempted with any sort of southerly swell running. [Note: When coming from town, check White Island from the hills on the drive out. If you can see any sign of breaking water at the island, forget diving at Cape Saunders. It will be too rough to make an entry (or to get out in one piece)].

Visibility: Usually around 10 metres or more when the weather conditions allow diving. Reports of over 20 metres have been recorded.

Description:This spot is for experienced divers only. The Cape has fantastic diving, with cliffs plunging straight into the sea and reefs running out from the points. This makes for great wall diving, with the cracks and caves sometimes yielding crayfish and other goodies. There is a rocky bottom to explore complete with guts, caves, holes and overhangs. The neighbouring seal colony also makes for interesting underwater entertainment, though watch for the odd grumpy sea lion. Great fish life.

Depth: Up to 23 metres and beyond.