For Spanish dive instructor Gines Pastor swimming with a manta ray at one of the world's best dive sites was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The manta ray spotted near the Poor Knights Islands was one of a few seen by boaties along Northland's coastline over the past few days.
As warm sea currents flow closer to the coast, not only are they bringing game fish like marlin and tuna but huge manta rays.
Mr Pastor, an instructor with Dive Tutukaka, was with a chartered dive group at Calypso Bay last Saturday when he saw the impressive fish.
"It's fabulous when you see a majestic 4-metre-long fish just gliding along," he said.
"I've been diving for half my life and this is the first time I have seen a manta ray. No doubt it's one of the best dive experiences I've had and the Poor Knights are one of the best dive spots."
He managed to take some pictures of the graceful fish and said the metre-long kingfish seemed tiny as they swam alongside the manta ray.
The ray circled over the top of Mr Pastor before swimming off into the blue.
"It was quite awesome."
Dive Tutukaka marketing manager Kate Malcolm said there had been plenty of sealife action on the coast over the past few weeks with a variety of whales as well as a pod of orca. Dolphins were being spotted on a daily basis.
She said manta rays had also been cruising the waters around the Poor Knights Islands.
"This is another example of a marine reserve that works."
Marine conservationist Wade Doak, who lives on the Tutukaka Coast, said manta ray were regular visitors and were attracted by plankton, which they fed on.
When feeding, they did somersaults in the cloud of plankton rather than swimming straight through.
"They are inspiring creatures," Mr Doak said.
In the Bay of Islands, a manta ray provided a rare but welcome sight for a number of people cruising around the weekend.
The ray was seen by about 65 guests, as well as staff, on board a Discover the Bay cruise run by Explore NZ on Saturday afternoon.
Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy said the sighting was a treat because, although they migrated here each year, they were rarely seen.
Have the largest brain to body ratio of all sharks and rays on Earth.
Have an average life span of 20 years.
Are close relatives of the shark and also closely related to the stingray, but don't have a stinger.
Are classified as fish.
Don't have a skeleton made from bone.
Are only surpassed in size in the marine world by sharks and whales.
Have many rows of sharp teeth - they aren't used for eating, but as a filtering system.
Are completely protected in New Zealand waters under the Wildlife Act.