got up early and was at the dive shop by seven thirty. Filled out the paper work, gathered the gear, then ran for breakfast and picked up some fruit for lunch. There are about a dozen divers besides myself. The hour long ride out to the first dive site was a very pretty cruise through the islands of the "Bay of Islands".
The first dive was on the wreck of Green Peace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior. The ship was sunk by the French Secret Service in 1985 in an attempt to prevent Green Peace from protesting upcoming nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The ship sank in Auckland but was raised two years later and moved up here and sunk again as an artificial reef. The dive was fantastic. The Rainbow Warrior is mostly intact (only the wheel house is missing). As always it was eerie to dive on the wreck - but fascinating, especially since I knew the history. There was lots of life. The upper deck is mostly covered in a mini kelp forest that shelters many schools of brightly colored fish. The hull has appropriately been covered in a rainbow of anemones. Somehow they absorb low intensity light and emit it at a much higher intensity. So at this depth (about 80 feet; 25 meters) where there is normally very little color big sections of the hull (especially the stern and the bow sprit) seem to glow in florescent greens, blues, pinks, and oranges. It's a sad, but somewhat fitting end for the ship...
After the first dive we had an hour and a half break for lunch and talking while the boat moved to the next dive site. It was a very rocky shoreline off a small island nearer to Paihia. They called the site "The Needles". I didn't see any spectacular life, but it was a really fun dive. The rocks make up a maze of interconnecting canyons and it was a blast to wander through them - at times it really felt like I was flying through desert canyons. There were also plenty of fish - some of which were quite inquisitive or perhaps aggressively protecting their territory - whatever they certainly weren't afraid!
Back in town we all helped clean off and put away the gear then a group of us went out for a beer. Which turned into several beers, story telling, diner, and a couple games of pool. Back at the hostel I sat around discussing middle east politics with a group of Israelis - actually it was a interesting and fun conversation.