Exploring the Depths: A PADI Open Water Dive Experience

Venturing into the underwater world has always fascinated me. Having been inspired by our wānanga with Kai Moana Queens and their encouragement of getting more wāhine into the moana, learning more about the moana and getting certified to scuba dive was a natural next step for me. What followed was an exhilarating and unforgetable experience.


The PADI Open Water course, the most popular diver program in the world, is a beginner course that teaches new divers the basic skills of scuba diving. Before touching the water, our first learning component was an e-Learning course which we did in the comfort of our own homes. Taking around 8-10 hours to complete, the anticipation built as we read up on dive theory and familiarised ourselves with basic dive equipement and safety measures.

Once we’d passed all of our units we were ready for our practical sessions. A drive to the sunny northland coast had us nestled right in Tutukaka where we made our way to Dive Tutukaka. Dive Tutukaka is a full-service dive charter operator servicing Tawhiti Rahi (Poor Knights Islands) where we were going to do our open water dives. It is also one of Aotearoa’s most famous dive spots and boasts some of the best sub-tropical diving in the world.

Day One: Dive Practical Pool Session

Our first day began in the pool. Under the guidance of our instructor we started putting into practice the theory we’d learned from our e-learning: buoyancy control, regulator recovery, and mask clearing. Despite initial nerves, we grew more comfortable in the water as we practiced. The hardest thing to get right was neutral buoyancy. This means controlling our weighting underwater so that we were neither sinking or floating. We also spent some time learning the life skill of how to breathe deeply and slowly. Diving requires good breath control and can instill a sense of calm and patience to help manage stress and anxiety – a skill that carries over to all areas of life!

Day Two: Open Water Dive 1

On the second day, we finally ventured into the open water for our first dives. We were nervous about whether we’d remember how to use the dive equipment underwater but knowing we had an amazing instructor kept the worries at bay. As we descended beneath the surface, a whole new world unfolded before our eyes. Vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life surrounded us and the feeling of weightlessness was surreal. I’ve always loved the open water and, even though I felt nervous, I was excited to be able to explore the underwater world up close and personal.

Throughout the dives, our instructor led us through various skills assessments and navigation exercises. We practised the skills we’d started the day before, equalising pressure and maintaining buoyancy, and gaining overall confidence.

Day Three:  Open Water Dive 2

The final day of the course culminated in certification dives. With our newfound confidence, we descended to greater depths, exploring underwater caves and various swim-throughs.  Each dive presented new discoveries and inspiring encounters with marine creatures.

Upon completing our certification tests, we returned to the surface as certified open water divers! The sense of accomplishment was palpable as we reflected on our journey from novice to certified diver.


Getting my open water dive ticket was an unforgettable experience that surpassed my wildest expectations. Not only did we gain valuable skills and knowledge, but we gained a certain sense of connection with each other as divers. I would recommend all newbies who are interested in diving to take courses like these to learn essential water safety and underwater skills.

From the initial excitement of embarking on the course to the thrill of descending into the unknown, every moment has been a testament to the beauty and magic of our moana. As we look forward to future dives, we are grateful for the opportunity to explore, learn, and immerse ourselves in the wonders of the realm of Tangaroa.

Matire Seath

Matire leads the business operating procedures and finance management whilst also providing support to the service delivery team and CEO.  Matire loves spending time outdoors and is big on food gathering and sharing with her wider whānau.