Covid-19 hit, then I turned my dream into a reality….

I’ve always loved the ocean, growing up snorkelling and exploring this magnificent underwater world that we are lucky to have such easy access to here in New Zealand. I’ve been diving since I was 15 where I did my Open Water course in The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Since then, I’ve had the chance to dive in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Vietnam. My love for travel and diving come hand-in-hand and that’s exactly why I have always dreamt of becoming a scuba dive instructor.

The Poor Knights, Blue Mao Moa Arch

When Covid hit I had to make the hard choice to return home from my year abroad in the mountains of Canada. It was time for a new challenge based in New Zealand, so I decided to take the leap and sign up for the August 2020 Diploma in Professional Scuba Instruction with The Academy of Diving at Dive HQ Auckland and start working hard towards turning my dream into reality. This diploma takes you from PADI Open Water diver to PADI Specialty Instructor. This meant that I had the chance to refresh my open water skills. Whether you’ve been diving for years or you’re a complete newbie this course is the perfect place to begin your journey. I chose to do the NZQA diploma in Scuba with Dive HQ Auckland as we get to dive in beautiful sites around Leigh including Goat Island where the marine life is incredible, and the snapper are friendly! There’s also some diving in Lake Pupuke which I promise, even though cold winter days and temperamental visibility, will make you a better diver especially with your buoyancy and navigation skills. The team at Dive HQ has been supportive throughout our course, constantly pushing us to do our best and sharing their love of diving with us. Even when the going gets tough we stay motivated and persevere towards our goals.

The highlights of the course for me definitely has to be our trips. Our first trip was with Yukon Dive to the Hen and Chicken Islands to see two incredible dive sites teeming with life. Another to Taupo to do the epic drift dive down the river with the trout and petrified trees. We also had two trips up to Northland Dive to dive the Rainbow Warrior and the HMNZS Canterbury. The first trip in the Rescue portion of the course and our second in our final weeks of the IDC (Instructor Development Course) where we got to penetrate the HMNZS Canterbury as part of working towards our wreck speciality. With wreck diving there is always a big emphasis on safety, so we go through all the basics before the dive on dry land to make sure it’s fully understood how to correctly lay and retrieve a wreck line. The team at Dive HQ is there supporting us in how to become the best instructors we can and ensuring we are confident in our methods. We got to go out with Yukon Dive again on our graduation trip to the Poor Knights, Tutukaka. Where we explored some mind-blowing dive sites. Blue Mao Mao Arch was one of the sites we dived and you can guess from the name that this swim through under the arch was filled with Blue Mao Mao, along with plenty of other fish life. Middle Arch has to be my favourite dive site at The Poor Knights as I’m a big fan of nudibranchs and I saw a great deal of Gem and Clown Doris on the colourful walls of this dive site.

There’s also some diving in Lake Pupuke which I promise, even though cold winter days and temperamental visibility, will make you a better diver especially with your buoyancy and navigation skills.

The hard work and perseverance all pays off after the final PADI IDC exams when you graduate as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. You’re now qualified and ready to tackle the real world of diving, everyone’s excited for what’s to come and for all the new adventures that lay ahead of us. The learning doesn’t just stop here though, and that’s what I love about this career pathway. There are so many ways we can continue to grow as professional divers, whether it’s in our teaching styles, new courses to deliver, or within our own personal diving. I know I want to get into technical diving so I can explore caves such as The Great Blue Hole in the Bahamas and the Orda Cave in Russia, maybe even some ice diving in Canada! The future holds so many great opportunities and new dive sites to explore all over the world. But for now, I have a job offer in Rarotonga as a dive instructor so I’m patiently waiting for this lockdown to be over so I can continue my diving journey sipping on coconuts every day.

But for now, I have a job offer in Rarotonga


Thanks to Katie for writing this blog for us during Lockdown in NZ 8/21. You worked so hard to get where you are and all the effort, resilience and tenacity paid off. You got where you wanted to get to and are ready to start your career in a fantastic location in the Pacific. Fingers crossed you are in time to see the Hump Back Whales Cruise by.

How do you become a PADI Dive Instructor and enter the dive industry here or overseas?

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Michelle, Mike and the crew at Dive HQ Auckland 🐋

Thanks to Chris Hailey our PADI Course Director for all his videos and photographs. Check out his own Youtube Channel here.

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