Need advice on wetsuits

Hi all!Need a little advice on what type of wetsuit to purchase for gold sniping/dredging in our freezing south Island rivers and streams.After a couple of seasons mucking around the side banks and shallow streams I would like to get serious and get down to the deeper centre flows for some chunkier gold but what type of wetsuit should I get?
I’ve had mixed advice…some say dry suit?but are expensive and what if you get a tear in it,are they robust enough as many sites contain sharp bedrock or slate…semi dry ?same issue?Or should I go for a trusty full wetsuit?One or two piece?
Any guidance on this would be much appreciated and /or where to purchase and what type/brand to buy.
Cheers Mal

I use a 7mm wettie knight armour suit. 2 piece and hood inc. they are a semi dry suit and a mission to get in and out of I use baby shampoo to get in to it. Use it in the shot over in mid April and was perfect the issue will always be keeping your hands and feet warm without losing to much feel for what your doing… Operating tweezers with froze up hands is not the easiest of tasks haha.


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Thanks for that…I just looked them up and it looks like a good option…Cheers Mal

I use a Moray Revolution Camo 7mm spearfishing wetsuit. If anything I’m usually too hot and need to flush cold water through it in summer to stay cooled down. Also need to use washing-up liquid / shampoo to lube it up to slip into it.

This is the one I’ve got:

seems to be cheaper non-camo though:

Also has a handy wee pocket on both upper arm and leg that’s supposed to be for a knife. Makes a nice place to stash your gold bottle.

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Thanks Gav…will look these ones up too!yes I thought about getting a range of different size small pockets sewn onto the upper arm to stash tweezers/crievousing tools etc thanks again!

Sniping, I have a 3/2mm steamer surf wetsuit, cheap, light, folds up to nothing and it keeps me warm enough for summer sniping, easy to get into and out of and with surf wetsuits there is a huge range with intermediate sizes and short / regular / long options for us hobbits out there who need a larger size in a shorter wheelbase.
The huge advantage is it doesn’t take much to sink a surf wetsuit, so unlike a dive wetsuit you will not need to be carrying in 10+ kilo of lead on a belt.
You can pick a good one up for a hundred bucks, look out for specials.

Not appropriate for dredging, not hard wearing enough, and too cold to be spending long periods submerged.

Dredging go two piece, 7mm, make sure its got reinforced knees or be prepared to get some neoprene glue or some aquaflex to reinforce all your wear areas and seams, dredging beats up neoprene. I wouldn’t recommend a dry suit as they have some interesting characteristics when it comes to buoyancy, filling, burping etc, and you will need a lot more lead. A semi dry is an option, they are mostly one-piece suits, they are still a wetsuit but have tighter fitting seals around the neck and limb openings and a sealed zip, they are still wet but water flow is massively limited (not a good idea to mimi in your wetty) so you stay a lot warmer, they need no more lead then a comparable wetsuit but they cost a lot more and can be harder to get into and zip up.


I was recommended the dry suit also, and had the same concerns. Plus you can’t take bits off as needed if cool. $900-$1000 aint cheap if it rips.

Eventually selected 5.5mm full wetsuit (hood attached), has a zip across the front shoulders to help keep warm. It is a bit of a B :dog2: to get into. This one has internal flaps at wrists & ankles, to help retain the warm water inside the suit.

A big thank you to all you guys for the advice!A range of good points to consider!
I do like the Moray Rev Camo 7mm that Gav referred to,good padding,robust,good seals,warm and at around $500 is on budget.I do a fair bit diving for paua and crayfish as well as spear diving around rocks in surf and this looks like a good general purpose suit for all that plus keep me a lot warmer in those cold south Island streams.
I started off propecting in gum boots,then booties,then spring suit…the more rubber I put on the deeper in the stream I wanted to go so this suit should get me right down the bottom of some gnarly water falls…lol
Cheers Mal.

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My advice is buy a one piece. My suit was a Cressi diver 5/6 full suit with hood. I prefer the 1 pc over a 2 because I don’t piss in my suit and a 2 is a lot more of a hassle to take off when you have had to piss for a hour and finally get out of the water to do so. A dry suit would be nice, but the money and the worry about tearing is not worth it.
What ever you buy, buy some knee pads. I have tried a ton of them and the ones I like best are Moto X ones. They have way better straps, you will lose a few to the river if there is only 2 straps. They cover both the knee and a bit of the shin, in case you walk into a hidden rock. And for the little bit extra they cost compared to a good set of contractor knee pads, there worth it. YOU WILL WEAR A HOLE IN 1 DAY WITH OUT KNEE PADS!

Make sure what ever you buy fits snug. A bigger suit means more air to try to get out so you can sink. Since you probs won’t be wearing weights, you will not want a suit that is to big, as you will never be able to sink. With a one pc you just get under water and roll over onto your back and all the air comes out the hood. I have a 2 pc for a back up and one thing I really don’t like is the hood is kept closed with Velcro around the neck. Wet Velcro is crap and I find it always opens. ALWAYS. The cressi diver is 1 zipper from your balls to your ear. Easy to get into, and out of. And the zipper is just low enough that your shrunken member can still be worked out enough to take a piss.

I checked out some dive shops in ChCh and you can buy a nice used 5-7mm suit for around the $250 mark. I wouldn’t spend to much as you will be lucky to get 2 seasons out of your first suit until you know how you work under water, and where your wear spots are going to be.

Good luck with what ever you buy.

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Yes I just checked them out on the net and they do look like a very nice suit with good seals and zip set up.And the advantages of one piece with good access zip(easy to get in and out of) as you mentioned.
You and a couple of others also mentioned the issue of buoyancy(do you set up to be a little negatively buoyant?)
Like you said this type of suit would not require as much weight on board as a two piece and I guess easier to move in around also.Cheers for the advice!

Because we are full of air, we do not sink in water. Add a bunch more air with the wet suit and you need to weigh your self down to not float on the surface. I wear from 30 to 45kgs to keep me on the bottom. You can try stuffing your suit with rocks, but there not as comfortable as a weight belt. You will defiantly not be able to stay under water with out some kind of weights for as long as you can hold your breath. Even with a snorkel, if your in a current, you will always be battling to stay in one spot with out weights.
Somethinnto think about depending on what the water is like an how deep.

If you get a one piece you won’t have to buy an additional hood - so factor that into your price aswell.
Also I recommend Swim Fins. They’re shorter & more sturdy than other flippers, a little easier if you need to waddle across land.

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hey dude i use this type of suit its cheap and does the trick even in september in the grey river

Cheers for all the feed back guys,I’m currently using an old 3/4mm surf suit with a hood/vest over the top which is ok for summer time sea diving(with 8-10kg weights) but I’m freezing by days end when scratching around in Sth Island streams as water leaks in which is why a one piece sounds appealing.
Practically I guess I will only be sniping in 1.5mtrs depth max however there is nothing more frustrating than being too buoyant and not being able to get down to the bottom easily,wasting heaps of energy trying to stay down.
GoldStampX meantioned he uses 30-45 kg weight to stay down which seems like a heck of a lot of weight,I presume this is deeper river dredging where staying on the bottom heaving a heavy nossle around you would warrant the extra weight on board?
In my case I guess I either use booties with my feet on the bottom(with extra weight on board) or use swim fins as GoldPandemic suggests which could be a good way of keeping up with the current,duck diving,maneuvering around the bottom with mask and snorkle.Really keen to hit some fast rapid spots that haven’t been picked over yet by dredges,like to find some chuncky gold rather than the pitiful fine flakes I’ve been finding so far.Yes I guess talk is cheap and I am just going to buy a decent wettie and get amongst it!! Cheers Mal

I use a 7mm 2 piece wet suit. also a 3mm vest under it all. both have hoods . wear 2 weight belts. and in fast following water have been known to unzip my top and slide a large flat rock in there. I wear old tramping boots with ankle weights. I do dive with a hooker so need to stay on the bottom. in deeper water I like to be able to walk across the bottom of the pool. in fast following water I run a long rope through the pool so as if I start to get washed down stream I grab the rope.

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That’s hilarious. Good tip.

I had the option of an 8mm wetsuit also, but they restrict your movement more. I guess it really depends on what your main activities are.
When not using swim fins I wear sandals, helps save the wetsuit socks & give some more grip, they don’t get weighed down with water, though heavy boots might aid balance.

get an old tyre tube and cut a couple of 500mm sections out of it and pull them up over the knees on your wettie…the shape of the tube will fit the angle of your knee,they’re light,free and last for ages even on the sharpest broken reef.


The simple way to get in and out of a wetsuit is wear polyprop long johns and a long sleeved polyprop top underneath your wetsuit… Also a pair of socks to tuck the bottoms of the polyprop long johns into. Works wonders. When you are finished for the day and want to wash up your cons. Strip off your wetsuit, and just stay in your polyprops.Beats the sandflies hands down. Also never go walk about in your wet suit unless you are polyproped up. You will get some wonderful skin abrasions/chaff marks. Esp around the family jewels. If you really want to go upmarket. Go into a Bike shop, and get the bike riders, long Johns and Top.
They are super smooth and slinky, and pricey. I have dredged for well over 30 years, and you learn these little tricks along the way. We started of by wearing panty hose, they worked. But oh the ladders we did get in our stockings. And if anybody came past while you were getting togged up, they would think you were a couple of trannies lol. Bra’s and panties are optional lol.

Cheers Trev. Westport NZ


@kiwigold - awesome tips if for the sandfly protection alone! Cheers for sharing :slight_smile:

Yes some very good tips there thanks ,I imagine it would raise a few eyebrows coming across a tackle chaffed panty hose wearing dredger named Trev…even on the west coast…lol.