Scuba Diving Photos
6 Ripping Drift Dives
Clutha River, New Zealand
For serious drift divers looking to give themselves over to the current, rivers are the place to look. However, finding a good stretch with dive-friendly speed, depth and visibility can prove tricky — unless you’re in New Zealand.
Lance McKirdy and Simone Schreck, owners of Descend Scubadiving on New Zealand’s South Islands, have pioneered a truly ripping drift on the Clutha River.
“We think it’s the fastest drift in the world,” Schreck says.
The couple has intimate knowledge of nearly 20 miles of river; they customize the dive based on experience levels. For more advanced drifters looking for the ultimate thrill ride, they’ll run a section nearly 4 miles long, where currents up to 12 mph sweep divers over boulder fields, beneath class-three rapids and through whirlpools.
“Devil’s Nook is known as one of the strongest switchback rapids in the world, where the river makes a 90-degree turn and creates a powerful whirlpool,” she says. “It’s possible to dive through the eye of it, where large ironstones spin with the force of the water — it feels like navigating an underwater tornado.”
We dive for many reasons. Some to shoot photos. Some to count fish. And some of us do it for the rush. Maybe you know the type? Always down for deeper reefs, bigger sharks and faster drifts — the wilder the better. If you're anything like that, lazy drift dives just won't do. You need to feel the pull of the current as it wraps around rocks, to fly in formation alongside schooling sharks and massive manta rays, to barrel roll between coral heads like Maverick blowing the doors off Iceman. If that sounds like your scene, read on for our top picks from the world’s wildest drift dives.