We tested the ability of a small dynamic penetrometer, Nimrod, to infer geotechnical properties of sediment mixtures in the inner shelf. The penetrometer is light and easy to operate, and its operation by scuba divers ensures a greater degree of precision than ship-based penetrometer deployments. We have studied selected positions along a sorted bedform (∼ 100 m wide) on the continental shelf off the Coromandel Peninsula close to Tairua, North Island of New Zealand, and additionally took sediment samples at the exact positions of penetrometer impact, also by scuba divers. The derived dynamic penetrometer signatures (i) measured deceleration of the probe and estimated quasi-static bearing capacity as a measure of sediment strength, (ii) reflected changes in grain-size distribution ranging from very fine to very coarse sands, and (iii) revealed the uppermost seafloor stratification (top layer 2–6 cm) potentially being an indicator for sediment dynamics. In this manner, the device proved to be suitable for spatially fine-scaled surveys using divers' support and might deliver complementary information about sediment dynamics, in this case sorted-bedform maintenance.