Scuba Diving in New Zealand

I've never been a good swimmer though I love being in the water and could manage the breast-stroke. At 18, I had a drowning incident at a water park and since then made me psychologically fearful of all water activities but I wasn't going to let it stop me from taking part in them. Yes, I do still have the initial fear everytime I step into the water but I'm sure someday, somehow, I'll be able to fully overcome this fear of mine.

I did some swimming lessons right after my drowning incident at Minyak Beku (this was in Malaysia, by the way) in this man-made pool. The swimming coach was fantastic and funny though the pool, er...put it this way - it was outdoor, uncovered and green with leaves and moss (possibly a few frogs too - eww!). Don't think it's a pool anymore these days. If my memory serves me right, the pool is now a fishing pond for the public to pay and try catching fish for fun. Haven't done much swimming since I moved to NZ. I still need to do more lessons to build up my confidence in the water. Hmm, I wonder if I should get the next coach to 'drown' me again, just to fight fear with more fear...

My first scuba diving experience was at Hahei, Cathedral Cove with Cathedral Cove Dive where I did their Discover Scuba Diving course. It was unfortunate that the weather was not really sunny so most of what I saw when Russ took me around was grey in colour. Lots of sea urchins, kelp and I even saw a large stingray! You'll have to see my upcoming posting on my trip to Coromandel for photos and more stories.

A couple of months before I went to Fiji last year, I decided to register myself for the Open Water course with NZ Sea Adventures. Probably wasn't a necessity but it was just cheaper than to do a Discover Scuba everywhere I go plus it was another opportunity to overcome my water fears. Besides, I've always wanted to scuba dive - this will be my first step to the discovery of a whole new underwater world! Yippee!!

I must say, if you are considering taking up the course in Wellington in early winter (I did it May last year), you may wish to reconsider doing so in summer. The water temperature was about 12 degrees and even with thermals, a set of clothing, socks AND a 7 mm wetsuit, my god was I shivering! All my dives in Wellington where shore dives (this is a plus for Wellington divers) - did I mention how clumsy I felt waddling into the water with all the heavy gear? The waters here are murky and filled with kelp - doesn't help a person like me who's new to scuba diving and has a water phobia. What kind of scared me was when the group was decending and all I could see were just flashes of their coloured fins underwater! Darren, my instructor, was wonderful - I was a handful for him, from not being able to sink, then not being able to float underwater (yep, I was pretty much hitting the seabed as I moved) or just floating round and round and away like a helium balloon. Hehe...sorry Darren! We did get a lot of laughs during the course and Darren gave me a few good tips to make my dive experience less stressful.

Tip #1: Get yourself a fitting mask. 9 out of 10 times the mask I borrowed from the shop didn't fit my face causing water to leak and me clearing my mask regularly underwater (I clear my mask often even though there's very little water in it - it's a nervous reaction).

Tip #2: Get a good snorkel. I got myself an absolute dry snorkel and I think it's just great! No worries when the waves come crashing in - hardly ever have to blow to clear the snorkel. It's a lot more work using the old-fashioned rubber tube one. Too much effort and I end up choking on sea water.

Darren's now in Hawaii on his diving OE. Check out his staff profile here:

Scuba diving, like most activities, requires practice - the more you do it, the more comfortable you become. Water conditions in New Zealand makes diving a tad harder but some say if you can do it here, you can dive anywhere. Diving in Fiji was very different to my experience in NZ waters. You can ACTUALLY see!!! Clear, warm waters with colourful sea life - just absolutely beautiful :) See upcoming Fiji postings for photos and stories.

There are several other dive sites I would like to go to in NZ once I complete my Advanced Water course (not sure when and where to do this yet) such as Poor Knights Islands and also check out the HMNZS Wellington F69 which I had witnessed her sinking on the 13th of Nov, 2005 in Wellington. See photos of the sinking here:

If you haven't experience scuba diving, you should give it a go. The experience underwater is worth every cent and minute (and maybe a few tears) spent for your course. It's a sense of achievement and freedom as well, just like getting a driver's licence :)


Popular Posts