Skip's Underwater Image Gallery
The Thirty Six (a deep water reef near the Aldermen Islands)


6 January 2008

Demoiselles (Chromis dispilus) congregate at 36 metres, the highest point of The Thirty Six.

Grey sponges (Ancorina sp.), orange soft corals (Alcyonium aurantiacum) and other encrusting organisms blanket the top of the pinnacle.

The visibility of 10 or so metres on this dive was a little disappointing and is reflected in the greenish hue of the water.

Black Coral Tree
This black coral tree (Antipathes sp.) at 45 metres is the shallowest of several such colonies which branch out from the near vertical walls of the pinnacle. Magenta jewel anemones (Corynactis sp.) encrust some of the dead branches.

Other coral tress at greater depth are in better health than this one.

On this dive I dropped down the southern face of the pinnacle which has a sheer wall to 62 metres followed by a jumble of rocks leading to the sandy bottom at 66 metres. I saw no coral trees on this side of the pinnacle. The trees seem most abundant on the western face.

Others swam through a small arch at about 50 metres.

Demoiselles and Jason mirabilis nudibranchs at 38 metres.

The diagonal line in the background leads up to Taranui on the surface above.

Black Coral Tree
30 March 2008

In beautiful blue water I drop straight down beside the arch and bottom out at 65 metres on its southern side. Several large black coral trees branch out from the walls of the arch. The tree in the photograph above is perhaps the deepest at about 60 metres. The bridge forming the top of the arch can be clearly seen and is only a few metres high.

These ancient trees may have been partially protected from boat anchors and fishermens lines by being under the arch. A large dead coral tree with a 30 mm diameter trunk sadly lay on the sandy bottom beneath the arch.
Black Coral Tree

A slightly shallower black coral tree at 56 metres.

Breathing 18/45 trimix I take all this in with a clear head. Others on this dive breathing air are ravaged by nitrogen narcosis and fail to notice that they're beneath an arch.
Divers decompressing beneath Taranui
Divers decompressing beneath Taranui

The Thirty Six

7 December 2008
We had great conditions for my third dive on the Thirty Six. Viz in the shallow water wasn't great at about 10 to 12 metres but it opened up beautifully from about 30 metres down to a lovely 20 to 25 metres. The clearer water at depth was noticeably cooler at about 15.1 degrees and up to 18.4 degrees in the shallows. Pictured above is Glen W in the arch at 64 metres.

The Thirty Six

The biggest and best coral tree in the arch at 60 metres depth.

The Thirty Six
Glen W with coral tree at 53 metres.

The Thirty Six

Jason mirabilis nudibranchs feasting on a Solanderia hydriod tree at 38 metres, close to the top of the pinnacle.

The Thirty Six

29 March 2009

On a beautiful late summers day we returned again to The Thirty Six.

Neil yelled out "there's a good sized shark right under the boat" but it had disappeared by the time I got in. Visibility in the shallow water look promising but unlike our previous visit, it did not improve at depth and if anything, was a little worse. We still had a pleasant 12 to 15 metres of visibility with 18 degree water on the bottom and 20 degrees in the shallows.

Above, Glen W. and I swim down to the sand just outside the arch at 65 metres depth. Lurking beside this rock I spotted a foxfish (
Bodianus sp.) which I've only seen before at the Poor Knights.

3 December 2012

On a long overdue return to the Thirty Six I was joined by Martin Wallis, Andrew Simpson, John Hynes and local GUE divers including Jamie Obern, James Croker and Tom Crisp.

It was great to be back on Taranui with Jim in good form but the day was not looking promising with a grey sky and 15 -20 kts of breeze from the W/SW. Jim took a while to hook us in but positioned the anchor near perfectly once again. Surface conditions were a bit sloppy but workable. Shallow, the water was milky green but it opened up beautifully at about 30 m to a crisp, if a little gloomy, 20+ metres with a green background cast. Dropping down the pin saw a couple of Solanderia with many Jasons aboard and swarms of demoiselles with beautiful splendid perch mixed in. On the bottom, we turned to the left, not 100% sure where the arch was but it appeared before too long with beautiful coral trees flagging its entrance. We paused to photograph one of the largest at around 55m before proceeding into the arch. I struggled a bit with the photos and foolishly was on 200 ISO which didn't help. My best dive yet on the Thirty Six and now keen to get back for more! Inspirational!

Maximum depth: 64.0m, bottom time around 32 minutes, run time 117 minutes, water temp. 15.0 (bottom) to 17.3 (shallow).

The Thirty Six
The Thirty Six

10 December 2012

A week later we return for another "Deep Monday" and find much improved visibility - yuss!

For what will be my 7th dive on the Thirty Six, Marty, Simo and I plan a longer 45 minute botton time at 60 metres which will require around 90 minutes of deco.

Maximum depth: 63.2m, actual bottom time around 43 minutes, run time 157 minutes, water temp. 14.5 to 17.9.

I capture this image with Simo posing beautifully in GUE trim at the entrance to the arch beside one of the best coral trees - perhaps the best photo I'm likely to get from the Thirty Six (but keen to try for more!).

The Thirty Six

Looking almost straight up at the rock bridge forming the top of the arch.The Thirty Six
The Thirty Six
Martin "Party Marty" Wallis

This coral tree hangs from the wall above and is perhaps 3 metres tall. It has a distinct red or brown colour to it which appears different to the much whiter coral trees nearby.
The Thirty Six

The Thirty Six location map (from chart NZ534).

GPS Coordinates: 3700.643 S 17603.306 E




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