Diving With The Poor Knights

While I was in NZ, I had my best diving experience ever at a place called the Poor Knights Islands.

The Poor Knights Islands are called that way because from the way they’re shaped, they kinda look like chess pieces of knights that have fallen down.
They are located 40 minutes away by boat from the remote coastal town with a funny name called Tutukaka, which itself is some 150km north of Auckland.

Diving in New Zealand ain’t cheap. Then again, with views THIS amazing, I couldn’t resist forking out the NZD$190 (RM500) it is required for the experience.
Believe me, it was worth every single penny of it.

There was nothing quite like dropping down below the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean to find yourself surrounded by masses of beautiful marine life, kelp forests and an abundance of underwater caves.
It was beautiful. An explorer once described Poor Knights Islands as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, and I agree. Diving in NZ is definitely very different to diving in the tropics back home.

Superman goes diving in New Zealand

The water is cleaner. The visibility is clearer.
The fish in NZ are bigger.
Kinda like the women here too.

Our dive guide brought us down to 30 metres – the deepest I’ve ever done. We explored a submerged cave and went through what they call an “underwater chimney”.
It was the most awesome experience ever.
When we entered the cave it was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything. All I could do was paddle hopelessly in the dark. As we continued to swim aimlessly forward, suddenly this faint blue light came in from the end of the tunnel and I’m bathed in it.

Swimming through that hole, it almost felt as if I was born again. I felt alive!
Now I know what new-born babies went through when their mother squeezed them out.

With water so clean and clear, I got up close to many sea creatures, like this tulan-looking moray eel. My guide pulled me away immediately after I took that shot because apparently this eel was coiled up ready to attack.

The only problem going that deep down is that I used up my oxygen tank rapidly. By the time I got up the boat after the first dive, I was so sick and drowsy that I puked over the railings twice – something the Kiwis onboard joked as “more food for the fishies”.
It was worth it though.

The one thing that continually impressed me about diving in NZ is how clean and pristine the Kiwis maintained their waters. For once, the destination truly lived up their brochure description of an “untouched paradise”. I saw not even a single dead coral nor a speck of rubbish (except for my puke) while diving at Poor Knights Islands.
It’s amazing to see how gung-ho the Kiwis are on the climate change agenda. Every New Zealander has the habit to do all they can to protect their environment, and any damage to the natural habitat of wildlife is heavily frowned upon.

Over there, anyone caught littering in the ocean will be thrown into the water to physically retrieve it. Over here, all we seem to know is how to pay lip service about “protecting our environment” and not do anything about it.
And that’s really unfortunate.
It’s unfortunate because Malaysia has among the world’s largest bio-diversity, and yet we do not really seem to know how to treasure what we are blessed with.

One example is the turtles we have in Malaysia, like what Su Ann said.
Our turtle nests have been decreasing at such a scary rate.We don’t know how blessed we are. People from all over the world travel to our doorsteps to watch our giant turtles hatch their eggs in their natural habitat. And what do we do?
We sell those turtle eggs for RM1.60 each and eat them openly in the restaurants. Smart right?

The reason the Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand is so beautiful is because it’s virgin and untouched. Everything there was left as it is with minimal development.
If the Poor Knights Islands were located in Malaysia, I bet you two coconuts that the place will be filled with all types of buildings in no time.

It’s the same thing here in Sarawak. It’s next to impossible for tourists to see our famous orang utans in the wild anymore because of all these massive deforestation that’s been going on. When you rob these gentle creatures of their natural habitat, where else could they go?
There’s no space left.
In Malaysia, conservation is always playing second fiddle to economic development and convenience.

I think it’s ridiculous, and really sad. Compared to countries like New Zealand, we certainly have a lot of catching up to do. Old habits are hard to break, but something about our attitude towards conservation has gotta change.
So after reading Su Ann’s blog, this is what I pledge to do.

I used to eat turtle eggs everytime they were offered to me. I pledge that from now on, I will stop doing so.
I used to do sweet nothing-at-all when people throw their rubbish off the boat. I pledge that from now on, I will give them hell.
I used to scold people using “chao turtle”. I pledge that from now on, I will not use turtles and scold them with “chao chicken” instead.
Every little bit helps mah.

WWF-Malaysia runs a fantastic turtle conservation program to protect turtle habitats and educate local communities, and I pledge my support for them.
My first action start with a small donation of RM3 by sending an SMS with the text “WWF<space>my full name<space>my e-mail” to 39398. It’s so easy to do, I did it and I urge everyone to do the same.

Some people may be skeptical about donations, but there is nothing to worry. More information, including audited reports on how the donated fund was spent, can be found at wwf.org.my
Change may not come overnight. But hey, hopefully every little action we do will mean something, and ultimately influence those around us.

This community message is brought to you by kennysia.com 😉

Has my country gone crazy? After the elections, everything has just gone weird.
Barely 6 months ago, Anwar led a street protest, police threatened using ISA, and UMNO said street protest is “not a Malaysian culture.”
Now, we see UMNO organising street protests, the police threatened using ISA on them and DAP telling UMNO to “go through proper channels”?
What next? Jeff Ooi waving his guitar (instead of keris) in parliament?

91 Replies to “Diving With The Poor Knights”

  1. Just for the note, selling turtle eggs is illegal in Sarawak. Why the other states don’t adopt this, I wonder?

  2. yes. fish are bigger in size in temperate country than tropical country . Tropical country is smaller .
    This can be explain by science. If i am not mistaken, i can be explain like this. In response to heat, the fish in malaysia is smaller . The (jumlah permukaan per isipadu) total surface per volume is bigger if the fish is smaller. When the total surface per volume is bigger , they can disperse heat faster (since tropical area like malaysia hot like hell…)
    The warmer fish tend to mature more quickly,but the cost of this speedy lifestyle is often a smaller body size.

  3. pretty pretty. i love the 2nd picture.
    btw paiseh ar, what is the brand&model of your camera? wish to know, sorry if it has been asked before. ^^

  4. This post came just in time. I’m leaving to NZ tomorrow for 5 days holiday. Yippedy yay!!! Reading this post makes me want to go there faster hehee..

  5. NOW THOSE ARE WHAT YOU CALL SOME PRETTY COOL PICTURES OF NZ. The water out there looked great! Islands also… even though they’re protected. Great entry!

  6. I’m a diver myself and I’ve only dived in Sarawak. Learning to dive in Sarawak is like learning to dive as a blind man. You rarely see anything due to the silt. The best of all camera will not take any clear picture for you.
    When I was diving in Teluk Melano near to Tanjung Datu many years ago, the corals were all dead . I mean all of them. They were covered in a thick layer of silt. I guess it must be from the logging work upstream.
    Untreated sewage into the water ends up as food for the sea urchins and the population is blooming like never before. Quite a painful companion to be with.
    Sarawak have a long way to go but with the current situation, I guess there won’t be progress done to the conservation of the environment especially our sea.

  7. I love this post and I’m glad that you’ve decided to give up eating turtle eggs. I myself am against eating turtle eggs and shark fin’s soup.

  8. Hey Kenny, just like Monica, you can’t imagine how “in-the-nick-of-time-ness” this entry is. I’m leaving for Auckland tomorrow and I will definitely go there.
    I know you have been busy to update your blog frequently, have you considered mo-blogging?

  9. i love nz. i’ve been living here for 5 years now, and i havent regretted coming, not once. yea, i was born in malaysia used to live in kl. unfortunately malaysia has nothing to offer her own citizens (not the education we need, not the peace we all want, heck, not even clean air to breathe) but nz has it all.
    i think it’s a real shame that no one cares that malaysia’s natural resources are going down the dumps. it’s great that you posted this up, maybe then the readers would get off their butts and do something about it.

  10. Hi kenny, what camera are you using for the underwater shots? Looks quite clear to me…
    Olympus mju can only bring you down to like 15 feet if I remember correctly. Are you fitting your dSLR with a casing? Good shots, great report!

  11. i will do the same, i love my country and its nature. true of what you said. i used to love turtle eggs, every visit to sematan is looking forward to eat those poor animal eggs. 🙁

  12. Wow, u went diving???? Gosh…..
    The sea creatures in NZ are definitely more diversed compared to our country’s…
    Happy to know that you’re supporting WWF! My family has been a WWF supporter for the past 2 decades!
    Keep it up!!!

  13. I love the blue blue pictures!
    I went to Redang some years ago and I was already so excited seeing the white soft sandy beach and the clear blue water. At nite, there were a lot of people having fun at the beach… playing games..etc.. But the next morning, when I went there to catch sunrise, there were a lot of rubbish left there. grrr… I ended up picking up all the rubbish along the beach together with my buddies. Eye Sore lah! Why can’t they clear their own mess?
    And while at KT, we went to the market.. and sad to say, they were selling turtle eggs there too.

  14. I like it that you blog about the environment once in a while. There are alot of people out there who doesn’t know how much this matters. I am a diver too.. really nice to be able to share your experience diving in NZ. Keep it up!

  15. Thank Kenny for the info about the donation.. It’s good if we can help.. I guess, RM3 don’t sound much right? It’s better to help the turtles with RM3 than eating a small plat of Nasi Ayam..
    Have a nice day.. 😉

  16. thx for raise up the awareness of environment protection, kenny! u did a very good job. It will be boring if the juz only our human stay on this earth… hope our government imply some protection on our natural resources.

  17. ya! we msian shud really learn alot frm those develop country such as NZ.
    loking at them i feel bad abt my country, damn! The ppl throw rubbish everywhere here…
    Y dnt they learn?

  18. My God. How beautiful the little turtle is. How cruel are Malaysians to actually kill and EAT them? How could they destroy such a beautiful living being. Malaysians always frown upon other countries when they do anything that involves killing animals and trees. But have they ever thought about their own motherland? Have they ever thought about saving their own environment? All they do is organizing campaigns which proves no help at all. How some boring person who talks a lot help educate the people to love these creatures? Action speaks louder than words, people!

  19. abt da short talk.
    i tot it was weird dat bersih & hindraf got da water cannon 4 da demo. but when umno did da demo, they didn’t get it..
    correct me if i’m wrong.
    btw, a very nice post 2 create awareness. :þ

  20. “Kinda like the women here too.”
    tis true heheheh…
    Also, Kenny forgot to say the water is #&%*@*! cold!!!

  21. Its a good thing to do charity work especially for animals as they can’t even help themselve either.
    I have been donating to WWF since last year for RM30/monthly and I do hope it will make some differences to those animal in need.

  22. hell yeah kenny ur damn right!! in m’sia development always come 1st. nothing is more important then the environment. but then what about the poor animals then? who’s gonna speak up 4 them? there are very few ppl who actually care abt our environment, aside from the NGO’s la. so we all should start doing our bit and save the environment!! save the turtles & orang utans & tigers & all other animals!!

  23. I’ve thought the exact same thing when I came back and saw the extent of housing development in the outskirts of Kuching. Miles and miles of red land where the forests used to be. Also realized how large oil palm plantations are, just one can be thousands of acres… Really sien then looking at how indifferent Malaysians regard their environment.
    Malaysia has such a wealth of plant and animal species but nobody really cares. The Australians would die to have rainforests like ours and we just go on destroying every bit that’s left. Thank you for trying to raise awareness – Malaysians/the government need to change their entire mindset not just preaching (in textbooks/trying to convince other countries how ‘environmentally friendly’ we are) without really feeling it.

  24. sweet,love this post
    and i really hate those who clear our forest for the hell stupid bakun damN!
    self-conscious among malaysians are too low
    hope more people will be aware of all environmental issues
    yeah,tomorrow will be better

  25. hmm.. a little too late for the turtles now? Last I know was their pop has gone into irreversible decline. Oh well.. guess I’ll have to have other eggs for bfast now! keke..
    jus kidding.. never tried em ever.

  26. Kenny!! So Happy to see you blog about our Environment!! As the greatest Blogger in Malaysia, you certainly have the great power to raise the environmental consciousness of people!!!
    Hope our government do more things about the latest urgent situation of the planet.. or else..

  27. I felt so disturbed when you talk about people eating sea turtle eggs and throwing junks into the sea!!!!!!
    Honestly, people will say :”Nevermind la, is only an egg what.” or “..is only a plastic bag what.”
    What if everyone started doing the same thing? What if everyone just don’t care?!
    This really pissed me off!
    Love your earth man…

  28. well..i nvr take turtle eggs bfore.so i dun know hw it taste like.hehe^^
    cuz dunno why i jst cant put it into my mouth..i’ll feel like killing those lil cute creature when i see it..kaka!
    this is a gud postt!!!! save the turtlesss!!!

  29. fxck sarawak ministers for being ignorant regarding wildlife issue.
    fxck ting peng kin for his bakong project. fxck those are blood related to these clowns too. RAWR

  30. “It’s amazing to see how gung-ho the Kiwis are on the climate change agenda. Every New Zealander has the habit to do all they can to protect their environment, and any damage to the natural habitat of wildlife is heavily frowned upon.”
    That sentence reminds me of my 2nd country, Sweden. They’re just the same like the Kiwis, if not even better, when it comes to their environment. 🙂

  31. Why I can’t leave comments on the short talk? btw, here in Selangor, I can see banners of “pls step down, pak lah” everywhere, and wordings like “tak malu, pak lah” roaring by the concrete roads. Pretty damn cool, actually.
    the Oppositions are supposed to do sth NOW. it’s been weeks and still counting…

  32. Feel ashamed, Kenny, for you have tainted the beautiful waters with your puke 😀 Nice post, so much eye candy, the fact that we may never see it anymore if all the pollution and stuff goes on makes it all the more precious.
    Btw, I see “PAK LAH TAK MALU” or similar every here and there in Ipoh, it’s amusing.

  33. Kenny, it’s my birthday today! Can I have a personal e-mail from you wishing me happy birthday please?

    by Disillusioned Sarawakian
    I am writing this from outside Sarawak as I migrated with my family to Australia last year. I spent most of my working life in Miri and Kuching and as a businessmen, was forced to socialise with SUPP and other political leaders. I got to be quite close to them, and became one of their
    “supporters” who was “required” to “help” during elections.
    I would like to appeal to all the voters, especially the Chinese voters, to vote for the opposition and not the SUPP. Let give just relate some of the home truths about SUPP
    1. SUPP under George Chan is not working for the Chinese but Taib Mahmud. Forget the words but look at the action. TM took away the Kuching Mayor’s post and gave it to a civil servant (died) without consulting SUPP. Before the announcement I was at a dinner with George Chan, Lee Kim Shim and Alan Sim and GC hinted that AS would make an excellent mayor for Kuching. AS was smiling so hard that you would have guessed that he was 100% sure that he would be the mayor. But TM simply gave it to someone else and GC could not do anything about it.
    2. When the 2006 state elections came about, I was asked to “donate” to SUPP campaign in Kuching. My Miri branch manager told me that the SUPP Miri people (Andy Chia, Datuk Wee and gang) “asked” for my company vehicles to be “loan” them for the campaign. When the issue of land lease came up, GC told us in a dinner function that he will “speak” to CM and CM would make an announcement at a unity dinner in Kuching. I was forced to buy 3 tables at this dinner at Crowne Plaza. I was sitting a metre table away from the VIP table and I saw GC begging the CM to announce that he would renew the lease. CM just told GC, in front of everyone, I will announce in my own time. Can you image the SUPP president’s shame? In front of the Chinese community, he cannot even get the CM to make a “hint” about the land lease.
    After the elections, I was having dinner with GC’s supporters in Miri and he told in a serious tone that CM refused to make the announcement because he wanted to “punish” the Chinese/SUPP for making “too much noise”. This meant that TM had already destroyed Iban unity by splitting PRS/PBDS into two factions and he wanted the Chinese to be the same while he prepared his children to come in and take over. This man even hinted that TM only dared to do this because GC was the SUPP president. GC cannot stand up to TM on any issue. He just gives in on every crucial issue. Why?- I will tell you later.
    3. During the 2006 state elections, one of SUPP’s biggest financial contributors, Ting Chek Si, a tycoon from Sibu, was not selected to defend his Meradong seat. His crime? TCS was in a business dispute with TM’s brother over the Sanyan group of companies. TCS has sued TM’s brother for “oppression” and revealed that he gave TM’s brother 51% of the shares in the company in return for TM’s timber concessions. TM told George Chan to dump TCS and GC, like a good running dog, did as he was told. This is despite the fact that Meradong people wanted TCS because he was using his won money to provide help to Meradong. The SUPP Central working committee even endorsed TCS’s name as candidate. What kind of party leader is George if he dumped his own men and listen to PBB”s leader? Is SUPP a sub-branch of PBB?
    What is worse- when TCS protested to GC, GC lied to his face straight and told him to keep quiet and TCS will be given another chance as senator. Of course GC did not keep his promise, he gave the senatorship to Sim Kheng Hui.
    4. This is not the first time GC lied openly to his colleagues. In 2004 General Elections, he promised Law Heing Ding that he will be nominated as the Minister but for the last term. George even put this in writing. After the elections, George nominated Datuk Peter Chin. Is it any wonder that LHD called George Chan a liar in the Chinese press and GC did not dare to sue him? If George Chan is a man of honour as he says he is, why does he not sue LHD for defamation?. LHD even went to the extent of writing a complaint letter to all the SUPP CWC members and gave a copy to the PM and TM. He has documents to prove that GC is lying and backstabbed him.
    5. You do not need to look at GC’s political games to know he is a fake. Just look at the way he behaves towards his first wife, Judy. He cheated on for some many years that she ran away. He had an open affair with Christina Foo of Priority One and gave the company a lot of state government consultancies.
    During the search and rescue mission for Dr Judson in the Kelabit highlands, he visited the place often to “direct” the search. The real reason was that he was chasing a Kelabit girl and took her to KL to be his mistress. Just ask anyone in the highlands and they will confirm this story. This girl is now driving a BMW and living in a semi-D in KL.
    What kind of man would use a moment of anguish over a helicopter crash to think about sex and chasing girls. Is this a “leader” of tahe Sarawak Chinese community?
    Even worse, he allowed his daughter (the most beautiful one with white skin) to marry TM’s son. When Sulaiman turned out to be playboy and started to hit the daughter, GC actually told the daughter to “bear it” as Sulaiman could ensure that she has a luxurious life. When Sulaiman heard this, he hit the poor daughter even harder and send her off to live in the states leaving him free to chase all sorts of girls in KL and Manila. As a father, how could GC do all these things?
    The question is why? Why does GC do all these underhanded things?
    The answer is simple. The love of power and wealth. He can only get power and wealth by being a running dog to TM and this is exactly what he has done. He has made SUPP weak because TM wants SUPP to be weak while the Melanau dynasty rules forever.
    George Chan wants to enjoy the good things in life like fine wine (he has one of the finest wine collections in Malaysia) and women. He can only do this as deputy CM.
    With a leader like George Chan, who lies to his own senior party members, and reports to PBB and TM- can we elect SUPP? If SUPP were to come out and say that it is a sub-branch of PBB, at least I will consider it as they will be telling the truth for the first time.
    After all these nonsense I decided that I had better migrate. I do not want my children to deal with this sort of “leaders” and live in a country where the Chinese leaders are forever kowtowing to someone else.
    I am not writing this out of spite. I encourage readers in Sarawak and elsewhere to investigate if what I say here is true. Even if 50% is true, don’t you think SUPP deserves to be punished?
    The only way to get rid of George Chan and his group of “PBB” SUPP members is to vote out SUPP until George Chan loses power. There is no other way. I took the easy way out by migrating but that does not mean I do not love Sarawak or care for the future of Sarawak. It simply means I am too old. I am telling his story so that the younger generation will know the truth.

  35. Environment protection hasn’t been one of the top agendas of the M’sia government ever since Mahathir started the ball rolling on mega projects and region development. These days huge housing or commercial projects have been known to encroach or damage natural parks or green lungs, just so developers or political cronies can earn an extra buck.
    Tourism may help promote the protection of natural landscape, but that too is mismanaged for quick profit to the point they become nothing but caged attractions. Not to mention the extremely poor understanding of environment protection among M’sian courtesy of our upbringing, which contributes to their brainless behaviour towards the environment.
    I’ve witness this first hand in the Klang Valley during the 1990s and 2000s, destroying my perception that modernisation brings progress. Now it seems the government is planning to do the same with East Malaysia, seemingly to win electoral support.

  36. Wow, beautiful scenery…how i wish i can also go for some diving adventure-cum-experience in New Zealand too. Anyway, i totally agree with you on the issue of saving the turtles…they are gonna extinct soon enough if nothing is done!!! By the way, you should so something about your Chatterbox…people are spamming all over it & it’s an eyesore. Please consider this too…love ya blog!!

  37. I found it disturbing that you admitted to eating turtle eggs. is this a normal practice for malaysians?
    seems like for many young adults in society they are hopping on an environmental bandwagon just because its trendy. I really wish you could have seen how damaging urban lifestyles are to the environment earlier.

  38. Wah….that tulan-looking moray eel really look tulan, man! You not sked meh they fella zap you?? Neways, the pictures look fabulous! Makes me wish I can go diving in NZ one of these days as well. Maybe I will…. 🙂

  39. THANK YOU kenny,
    for raising awareness about malaysia’s biological diversity
    for being the eco-activist encouraging others to do so
    for proving us fabulous photos that are priceless
    for being the role model that i would wanna be

  40. We should never eat turtles’ eggs. They’re naturally high in cholestrol which means it’s bad for your health! But even that should be the least of our concerns – humans should stop putting these so called “exotic delicacies” onto the dining table. With the rate we’re destroying our natural heritage, there wouldn’t be anything else left for us to appreciate 10 years down the road.
    Kudos to Kenny for bringing this topic up. People do respond to a celebrity’s call. 🙂

  41. Agreed with u…our ppl here really don care much for the environment!They should change their mindset 1st.

  42. Kenny… been following up your blogs pattern and I believe NZ did good to you… I can feel the change in d inner u from your writings re: NZ… Keep going…

  43. Honestly I think the apathy is partly due to our education system. It’s all theory and no practice. Kids spend all their time in science class memorizing what kind of trees are in a paya bakau, or the locations of all the national parks but how many people here have ever actually been on a lawatan sambil belajar to a park or a beach? You can’t give a damn about something you’ve never seen.
    Thank you for writing this and sharing the pics and your resolutions.

  44. kenny, needless me to say, i think u r a very influencial person.. this is a very nice post to raise ppl awareness of the need to be responsible to mother nature..
    wish that u will continue to post more of this kind of blogs for ur readers:)

  45. big conservation advocate here! coincidentally I also live in NZ, and they are very big on conservation here, which is awesome. I feel sad for Malaysia’s rapid loss of biodiversity due to deforestation and habitat loss. Yes, Malaysia has the greatest biodiversity in the world; I think it exceeds diversity in the Amazon. Once tropical forests are removed it will take hundreds of years to regenerate due to the poor soils of the tropics. HOpefully awareness will increase – or Malaysia will lose a massive and invaluable natural resource –

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