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The Marlborough Sounds have an excellent dive site in the Mikhail Lermontov; now recognized as one of the world's great wreck dives. In 1986, this massive Russian cruise ship sank on her side in 30 meters (100 feet) of water in Port Gore, on the edge of Cook Strait. (One life was lost.) The 200-meter-long (600-foot-long) ship is now an exciting dive site for anyone with moderate diving skills. September and October generally have the best visibility but the trips run all year.
Dive Picton. You can join a trip out to the Mikhail Lermontov with Dive Picton. They run a small boat so it will be weather dependent, but for experienced divers it's worth it. You can hire all your gear and they'll provide you with lunch. Dives vary between 15 and 30 meters so you can also complete a wreck or deep-dive specialty on the trip. Corner of Auckland St. & London Quay, Picton, 7220. 03/573-7323; 0800/423-483 (NZ only). www.divepicton.co.nz.
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