The waters around Channel Island where a diver died yesterday can be so treacherous an experienced local would never get in the water there himself.

Police received reports of a diver who was found unresponsive in the Hauraki Gulf by a buddy around 12.30pm on Wednesday.

And despite attempts from navy and rescue helicopter crew to resuscitate the man, he later died.

A keen fisherman and diver, who asked not to be named, said the area surrounding the island "petrified" him.


Strong currents running between Great Barrier Island and the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula made diving in the stretch of water a nightmare.

"I've lived in the Coromandel for 13 years and I've fished Channel Island a lot but I've never dived there," he said.

Channel Island (red marker) is located between the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island. Image / Google
Channel Island (red marker) is located between the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island. Image / Google

"I'm petrified of the current, divers just disappear ... I'm just too scared to dive up there."

The man had been diving near the island, around 6km from the tip of the Coromandel, when he was discovered unresponsive in the water.

His buddy was able to pull him out of the water and raise the alarm with emergency services, police said in a statement last night.

"A helicopter was dispatched and CPR was performed on the unresponsive diver, but unfortunately he did not survive," police said.

"A Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) vessel, which was in the area at the time of the incident and provided medical assistance, transported the man to shore."

A medic from RNZN ship HMNZS Hawea worked with Auckland Westpac Helicopter crew to try save the diver, a New Zealand Defence Force spokesperson confirmed.


The patch of water surrounding the island was "one of the most dangerous" in the world, the fishermen who spoke to the Herald today said.

"All that water from the Pacific [Ocean] has to squeeze between the top of the peninsula and Great Barrier Island.

"The seafloor is just real [uneven] and rocky ... the current is just phenomenal."

Meanwhile, the diver was most likely to be chasing crayfish or targeting fish with a speargun before the incident yesterday, the fisherman said.

Police were not in a position to name the man or release any other details this afternoon, a spokeswoman said.