Scuba diving has always been on my ‘life list’, especially in the Great Barrier Reef (I have yet to achieve this). I think the idea of being a real life mermaid, fascinated me.
I tried Scuba Diving for the first time in the Island of Rhodes, in Greece, as a university graduation celebration in 2009. It was a short session, but a good introduction all the same.
During my first to New Zealand in 2011, I knew our itinerary included a trip to Sunny Northland, which had a stunning coastline and beaches. It was also home to one of the World’s top dive sites in the World.
Dive Tutukaka is one of the dive centres that operates out to Poor Knights Island, and it appeared to have the best reviews and prices, so I booked with them.
The cost of the trip was NZD $344, which included 2 dives and all equipment hire. The cost of this may have changed. So be sure to check with Dive! Tutkaka for details of up to date costs.
On the morning of my Dive, I had to get up super early, to be at the Dive centre by 8am, stopping off at a little dairy on the way to pick up snacks for lunch (although I could have paid $10 for a picnic lunch, I opted not to), as I’d be out on the water all day. The centre itself was about a 30 minute drive from where we were staying in Whangarei.
After I got dropped off at the centre by my parents, I filled out the paperwork, including medical forms, got kitted out with a wetsuit, some very sexy goggles, and flippers and we were on the way.
Although I had done an introductory Dive before, I was not a certified Diver, so the aim of the day, was to enable me to get my basic diving certificate, so that if I wanted to, I could continue getting my PADI elsewhere in the future. On the 1 hour boat journey out to the Poor Knights Islands, I spent time with my Dive Partner going through the theory basics of diving. I completed some paperwork, and chatted through things I was worried, or had questions about.
There was about 6 others in the group, so it was quite small – though most of these had their PADI, so they were just using the Dive centre, for gear hire and a trip out to the Dive spots.
When we got to one of the main Dive sites, we were pretty much in the water as soon as we had the anchor down. We again went through some safety things. I demonstrated how to clear my ears, show the “I’m OK symbol”, change my oxygen supply to the backup (if needed), and we were off.
It initially took me a bit of time to get into it. I found it hard to breathe underwater the first time I dived in Greece, and this time also. It felt a little unnatural (which it is!), and I panicked a few times – having to come up to the surface (I think this links in with my complete fear of drowning, despite being a great swimmer). However, after a while, I relaxed into it, and we were off.
I only had a small disposable waterproof camera (I really want to invest in a proper camera with waterproof housing soon!) so the quality of my photos are not great.
The first dive felt like it went on forever, but in reality it was probably only 30 minutes. I felt so free swimming around in the water – the colours were amazing – a real life finding Nemo, with all the fishes just swimming naturally around you.
After the first Dive, we got back on board for a break, and moved on to a new dive site nearby for a change. We got to see the famous ‘hole in the rock’ and got a good history of how the area was formed and discover (all this information escapes me at the moment).
The Poor Knights Islands are pretty big, and we really only touched on it as we dived.
After my second Dive, I sat and ate lunch, whilst waiting for the rest of the certified divers to come back (they were able to dive for longer). We then cruised around part of the Islands, in the sun. A real relaxing end to the trip.
We arrived back at the harbour by 4pm, where I was picked up by my parents again, and went off to enjoy a well deserved dinner.
I now have the theory and first few dives behind me. All I will have to do is a refresher course, and 4 open water dives, and I am PADI certified. This is something I’d perhaps enjoy doing in Thailand.
I’d really recommend trying out diving, if you’re comfortable in water and a fairly good swimmer. There is a whole new world under the sea!