New Zealand’s First PADI Freediver Depth Camp

Freediving is an extremely fast growing sport. More and more people are now choosing to enter the water using breath-hold techniques. That said we need to ensure divers are diving safely and following safe dive practices to avoid unnecessary incidents. This is where PADI Freediver training comes in.

Promotion to customers and students of professional training will benefit both the industry and your business. A great example of this in New Zealand is Bryan Bailey and the marketing strategy he has chosen to increase this area of the Dive Centre.

Bryan is a PADI Master Instructor at Blenheim Dive Centre and recently hosted New Zealand’s first Freediver Depth Camp in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. This camp was a huge success and reading the feedback from attendees the first of many to come.

Situated in the beautiful calm and deep waters of the Queen Charlotte Sounds, students from around the country assembled for 8 days of freediving. Their main focus was to work on advanced equalising techniques, relaxation at depth and the glide phase of the dive.

Happy Campers

Students worked towards gaining their PADI Advanced and Master Freediver certifications with the goal to progress further in the future to become PADI Freediver Instructors.

Bryan stated that “It was amazing to watch each individual diver develop and overcome challenges that they faced, it showed us that by diving over several consecutive days in a safe and controlled environment divers are able to build a solid foundation to become safe and knowledgeable Freedivers to pass on their passion”.

Camp attendees had this to say:

Ryan Hansen | PADI Master Freediver & Freediver Instructor:

“The experience I had at the depth camp in the Marlborough sounds was exactly what I needed to take my freediving to the next level. With a relaxed atmosphere and a good crew, it was easy to find the head space I needed to get the most from the course. Bryan’s instruction was tailored to each individual diver, their own abilities and goals. His experience and knowledge base was evident. The dive sites were located in idyllic bays with calm conditions, even when a storm passed over us we were able to find good diving conditions. We were visited by a pod of dolphins, explored a wreck and met some very friendly blue cod. I left the course with a new confidence, having comfortably completed several personal best dives and eager to use the skills that I learned to continue to improve”. 

Ryan and Rene

Gina Watts | PADI Advanced Freediver:

While flying up to the depth camp there were many things going through my head:  20m seems insanely deep, 10m seemed deep in basic… Will my body even allow me to do this? After leaving the depth camp with a new personal best of 29m my thinking has changed… a  lot.  

A pleasant 24 degrees on the surface; the Marlborough sounds made for the perfect training location.  Made even better with a few dozen bottlenose dolphins coming to show us how it was done after our first open water session.  Not only did we just have a deep site for training we were surrounded by native bush with a constant cicada hum, we dived down to explore wrecks and the water offered up an array of non venomous moon jellyfish to gaze upon during our relaxation breath ups.  

The week started with the voice inside my head telling me it’s time to breathe along with my body giving involuntary contractions, all normal things for freedivers.  Learning to relax through them and listen to what my body was saying; feeling different urges to breathe, relaxing every muscle are all things that allowed me to glide down to new depths.  

In the first few days of open water training the personal best depths were jumping in rather large increments, 4 meters for example; it was going past my personal best depths that the concentration of gliding, equalizing and relaxing through the contractions really came into play. During these phases depths became constant and comfortable but the depth jumps were smaller only a metre or so at a time.  

Diving to depth is the most relaxing part of my dive it is ascending to the surface when I have to concentrate differently, it is during this phase where you can really feel the contractions.  Once you are in the zone of relaxation, the ascent became just as enjoyable as the dive down.  There is no better feeling than finishing recovery breathing and knowing that it was a great dive, it’s a feeling that is hard to forget.

The last thing I can say is that after 8 consecutive days in the water training, I wanted to stay and do more training.  One spectacular week of self discovery and development.  Cheers to you Bryan!  

PB's all round!

For further information on PADI’s Freediver training visit

How to Access Your Store Report Card

At this time of year we often look back over the previous year and analyse both the wins and the losses.

In the dive business there are many areas we can look at within our businesses and many tools available for use.

Certification trends, including demographics like age, gender and home country/State or city of your students are just a few statistics which are available for you to use (you can obtain these from your PADI Regional Manager) which may assist in deciding where you are best to spend your precious marketing dollars.

There are also many reports available to you via your PADI Pro Account. Simply follow the link below to see these reports:

Report Card

Under this area you can track how your store is performing against the Country and Region your operation is a part of. This provides a breakdown of your own certification growth and conversion rates as seen in the example below:

You can also see where you are spending your time:

And how you are tracking against the State/Province, Country, Region and PADI Office:

With all this data available at your fingertips it becomes easier for your business to dig deeper into your statistics. With this information you should be able to formulate a more targeted plan for 2018 for marketing and increase specific areas or grow a particular market.

For further information touch base with your Regional Manager and visit your store PADI Pro Account today.

Dive! Tutukaka – Role Model Commitment to Standards and Compliance


The New Zealand ACC Workplace Safety Award goes to Dive! Tutukaka.

As a company, Dive! Tutukaka, a PADI 5 Star IDC facility based in the beautiful north of New Zealand, won the Westpac Supreme Northland Business of the Year Award in 2009.

Between then and now, the legislative and audit driven regulatory landscape in which they operate has changed dramatically. The Adventure Activities Regulations were introduced in late 2014 in New Zealand, with all operators who provide adventure activities required to undergo an annual safety audit or surveillance audit and become registered with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The legislative requirements of the new Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) under Maritime NZ also came into force in 2014, as well as the new Health and Safety Act in 2015.

In a business whose very intent is deliver defining moments, and once-in-a-lifetime memories, the challenge for Dive! Tutukaka became how to maintain a great experience that was not so sanitised it became meaningless; both for both staff and customers. Their goal remained to deliver excitement, and moments to remember, whilst being safe, accountable, looking after each other, and remaining passionate and having integrity.

Who they are, why they do what they do, and what they do it for.

Dive! Tutukaka Poor Knights Islands

The strategy was to do the very best they can, search for excellence, go beyond simply compliance or ticking a box, but aim for the next highest level – and all the while not losing the essence of the core company culture, and maintaining their passion.

In a company that has a triple bottom line mentality in-grained, Dive! Tutukaka had to search for excellence beyond compliance. That drive echoes the passion of staff and their drive as people, to be the best they can be.

Achieving the ACC Workplace Safety Award is recognition of the hard work that has gone into the last nine years, of aiming high, and not settling for less.

We are grateful, honoured, and humbled, and extremely proud of this award.

Looking after their people, and ensuring that safety is not the competitive advantage, means sharing learnings, and being open and inclusive. Total staff buy-in means engaging them in every step of a systems process, from inception to delivery.

It always was, and it always will be, about out people.

We are still Searching for Excellence Beyond Compliance, it is that passion that will drive our selves, our people, our company, our region, and our sector forward.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei

Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain

This whakatauki is about aiming high or for what is truly valuable, but its real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.


Milestones…are worth celebrating

When we sit and successfully pass our PADI Instructor Exam the first thing we usually do is celebrate!

As we then progress through various certifications and reach specific milestones our celebrations tend to come and go without much fuss.

At PADI we believe we should continue to celebrate and congratulate ourselves and each other as we progress through our careers in this amazing industry.

So to congratulate and celebrate a few milestones I wanted to highlight a few of our key PADI Course Directors in Region 22:

Darrell Bird

When did you become a Course Director? March 2016 in Malaysia.

Where do you currently work? Dive Zone Whitianga, New Zealand.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? Love seeing the candidates progress through all aspects of the IDC especially the way their confidence in front of the class completing Academic presentations grows during this process.

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? Be prepared to give it 110% and be open to learn from all those around you, for me it was being open to the digital world, and what it has to offer as a new and ever changing training tool! Amazing experience!    

Tracey Channon


When did you become a Course Director? March 2015 in Malaysia.

Where do you currently work? Dive Otago Ltd.  Dunedin, New Zealand.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? We have most of our IDC candidates right from learning to dive at Open Water level through to IDC within the year and I love seeing how far they come with their skills, confidence and abilities.

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? In regards to the application process think about this early.  I left my decision to apply quite late in the scheme of things and it was a bit of a rush to make sure I had everything in line.  Look ahead in your career and plan early so that you can have everything ready to roll when it comes time to apply.

Stephen Hemstalk


When did you become a Course Director? June 2015.

Where do you currently work? Dive! Tutukaka, Northland, New Zealand.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? I love teaching the whole IDC. It is the process of development that I enjoy the most. Seeing the transformation from Divemaster to confident new instructors. 

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? If you are thinking about applying for CDTC. Then stop thinking and just go do it. 😊

Andrew Redfern

When did you become a Course Director? 1995.

Where do you currently work? Wyndham Resort, Fiji.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? The  new things I learn every time.

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? Learn as much as you can from everybody and anybody.

Daniel Sharp


When did you become a PADI Course Director? 2013.

Where do you currently work? Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

What is your favourite part of teaching the PADI IDC? Seeing the development of students over the course and by the time they finish seeing them not just getting the marks but actually teaching.

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? Give it your all, load your bags up with teaching aids and PADI materials and enjoy.

David Drane

When did you become a Course Director? 2005.

Where do you currently work? Dive Wellington, New Zealand.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? When candidates begin to believe in themselves and treat their IDC presentations as if they are teaching real courses.

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? The course itself is fun. If it is something you really want to do, then why not do it.

Nicholas Wyatt

When did you become a Course Director? March 2016.

Where do you currently work? Auckland Scuba, New Zealand.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? I enjoy seeing Instructor candidates develop their skills and abilities to a level that they can in turn pass it onto new divers.

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? Formulate a good business plan that you will be able to implement once you become a CD.

Kelly Weeds

When did you become a Course Director? 2010.

Where do you currently work? With an amazing crew at Dive Zone Bay of Islands , in the Far North of New Zealand.

What is your favorite part of teaching the PADI IDC? Seeing candidates “get the hang of it” and their obvious rise in confidence when things start to fall into place and get smoother and more natural. That’s when I can see the finished produce start to emerge – awesome!

What words of advice would you give anyone thinking of applying to the PADI CDTC? Make sure you really love “teaching people how to teach” – it can be challenging and like any level of training you need empathy and passion. Have an open mind and be ready to learn some cool stuff!


A big thanks to every one of our PADI members who continue to contribute to our industry with each with every person you train! With Asia Pacific certifications increasing year on year the need for more PADI Dive Instructors increases too – if you would like to be able to train the next generation of new PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors why not aim to apply for the PADI Course Director Training Course?

For further information check out the CDTC area on the PADI Pro site or contact your PADI Regional Manager.



PADI Freediver kickstarted in Fiji

“Fiji is one of those holy grail freediving locations where you have perfect conditions for depth training and stunning aquatic ecosystems to play around. I was surprised at the health of the coral and the marine life in general. The local Fijians were so welcoming and accommodating, just as they’re reputed to be. It’s become a place I’ll always return to”.  

– Adam Stern, PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer and PADI AmbassaDiver

Freediving in the Blue

PADI AmbassaDiver Adam Stern visited Fiji for the first time in early April to train PADI Freedivers and kick start training in the area. 13 PADI Instructors from around Fiji came together to complete some training with the 4 x Australian record holder.

The Instructors completed their PADI Freediver and Advanced Freediver courses, gaining additional training and tips to meet the prerequisites to apply for their PADI Freediver Instructor rating.

PADI Freediver Instructors

Adam was joined by 2 other Instructors who assisted on this programme. Bryan Bailey and Mitch Bennett.

Here is what PADI Advanced Freedving Instructor Bryan Bailey from one of New Zealand’s Freediver Centres, Blenheim Dive Centre, had to say about the training:

“Bula! I would like to congratulate and thank Jen Clent and PADI for organizing Fiji’s first PADI Freedive Instructor program which took place on the beautiful Coral Coast of Viti levu, Fijis main island. I enjoyed immensely instructing alongside Adam Stern and freediving with the Fijian instructor candidates in the warm crystal clear waters with sharks, dolphins and turtles. The freediving ability of the Fijian candidates was already very high having grown up swimming and diving in such perfect conditions. With the extra skills they have been passed on they will make excellent freediving instructors. Bula Vinaka”

Freediving in the reef

Mike Agnew had this to say about the course:

“It really started way back with the movie The Big Blue. For decades, there was a niggling thought in the back of the mind that I really was meant to be a dolphin. Then came PADI, promoting their Freediver courses, and I was hooked. 

Our Regional Manager Jen Clent organized a Freediver Instructor programme for Fiji. The course itself was brilliant. No other word for it. Adam was the ultimate professional, reminding us again and again to keep within our comfort level and enjoy ourselves. Our skills improved remarkably over the 5 days. He was an instructor to emulate, performing amazing feats with some of us students that had difficulties in some areas.

His two assistants for the course, Bryan Bailey from Blenheim Dive Centre and Mitch Bennett continued Adam’s calm philosophy of staying within your comfort zone and enjoying yourself, and were both fish-like compared to most of us clumsy, brick like swimmers.

So now my descent line is marked, my safety lanyard is made, and I can’t wait to get my hands on my first students!

Vinaka Adam, Bryan and Mitch!”

Divers on the Line

Jodie Bly –  “The course was exhilarating, scary but within my comfort zone, challenging and rewarding, practical and physical, seriousness with fun, competitive camaraderie. Adam and his team were awesome being both encouraging and patient, with lots of sound advice and suggestions.  It was not as hard as I thought it would be and being able to hold my breath for 3 minutes and 10 seconds was amazing, I never thought that would be possible for me.  Loved every second of it”.

Divers on the line and above

Ashwin Pal – “The first time I heard there would be a PADI Freediver course to be held in Fiji I was very excited and could not wait to start the course. I have always done freediving and spearfishing but have always wondered what I can do to extend my breath hold times and depth. The first day of my PADI Freediver course I learnt the different techniques of breathing to extend breath hold times. I would say I was an average student but with Adam, Mitch and Bryan’s help I could easily reach my goals. The entire PADI Freediver programme was very interesting and loads of fun. Now I can teach PADI Freediver courses, gain teaching experience and can’t wait to move on the next level of PADI Advanced Freediver. A big vinaka vakalevu (thank you) to Adam, Mitch and Bryan for taking the time coming to Fiji to help us Fijians becoming a PADI Freediver Instructors”.

Bryan ascending

Lani & Josh – “We loved the PADI Freediver programme. Adam is wonderful, very knowledgeable and extremely infectious. I found the training very challenging but in a good way. As a scuba diver I have always thought I was connected to my body but the freediver course taught me to develop this much much further. The techniques Adam taught us really helped build on our experience, understand why our bodies react in certain ways and how to communicate this to our future students.

Scuba diving for me is amazing, but less challenging as time goes on, I feel as though this course and certification has really opened up a whole new world, one that is just really taking off, I am so excited to be a part of it. It’s a new reason to get in the water, to view the underwater world from a new perspective, an exciting new way to challenge myself and a rewarding sport to teach”.


Karen Koens – “Super human Adam Stern, was strongly supported by Bryan and Mitch, who are both outstanding humans and Instructors themselves. The generosity from them to ensure PADI Freediver was brought to Fiji, and to give the locals a once in a lifetime opportunity was enthusiastically received by those of us fortunate to attend the course. Since then, my company Subsurface Fiji has become a PADI Freediver Centre. We are looking forward to help Fiji develop as a recognised and respected Freediving destination”.

Stefan Janjic – “Before starting the course I only had experience in “aggressive snorkelling” as Adam phrased it throughout our training sessions. I had managed to reach a maximum depth on a breath-hold dive of roughly 15 meters. With two days in a pool, and my second day in open water I went from being able to reach 15 meters as a difficult max to comfortably descending 26.5 meters, with only the reef as the limiting factor. I was even able to make a rescue from 15 meters, my former maximum in a calm and comfortable manner. The essential knowledge and skills I learned to train my mind and body to go deeper, coupled with how to deal with any potential risks in the sport gave me the confidence I needed to teach freediving. I am incredibly excited to start teaching this new water sport, and add to the list of ocean activities that we can offer at Kai Wai Ocean Sports”.

With such enthusiasm and passion for Fiji and it’s beautiful underwater paradise I can’t wait to see this destination develop and be added to every freedivers bucket-list!

After the training concluded Adam and Bryan spent a few days exploring the islands. Adam created a short video of his adventures on one breath which you can watch here.

For information on PADI Freediver, how to get involved or become a PADI Freediver Instructor, visit

All photos credited to Adam Stern.

Setting goals for 2017

Hands up who has set some new year resolutions? OK …. now be honest – who has already broken them?

Setting Goals for 2017

Many of you will have set yourselves some goals or resolutions for the new year – some of these will be successfully completed whilst others will be forgotten about by March. 😉

As we look at areas of our personal life where we can make changes, improve things, grow and set goals, we should do the same in our professional and business lives too.

For your professional life:

Set yourself some personal development goals this year – think about what you would like to do before this time next year. It could be as simple as finally getting that underwater camera setup, joining a Digital Underwater Photographer or Videographer specialty and learning to use it well. It might include training as a PADI Freediver Instructor, diving Sidemount or gaining some TecRec certifications. Or, you aim high and work your way towards applying for the Course Director Training Course.

Whatever your diving goals are be sure to talk to your local PADI Dive Centre, Regional Manager or others who already excel in those areas for advice and information.

PADI Sidemount DiverDigital Underwater PhotoghaphyPADI TecRec

Professional goals don’t always have to be diving related either. It may be that like so many of us your goals or resolutions are to get fitter, stronger and healthier! We all know we dive better, enjoy it more and are generally safer when we are not struggling with our personal health. Modelling this behaviour also demonstrates the importance of keeping physically and mentally fit to our student divers.

Perhaps you will look at ways of making yourself more employable. Learn more about marketing and social media use for business, start a blog, take a business course, get your skippers ticket. There are so many possibilities to enhance our lives and future proof your employability!

For your business:

Setting sales, certification, training and travel targets gives you and your staff incentive and something to aim for each day, week and month. Every business should have goals – perhaps set some certifications goals for growth – look at the areas of your business with strong or poor growth rates year on year. See if you can discover why these areas were strong/poor and brainstorm some ideas to improve them in 2017. For example; if your entry level certifications are strong but conversions to continuing education courses are not as strong, think of some ways to to push these courses or follow up past course participants.Set your targets

As you all know its now almost a required part of business to use social media and blogging to market and promote your business – look at setting up a 2017 content calendar for staff to post for things like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and your Blog. Once staff know their responsibilities it helps them to prepare and meet their

PADI Business Academies are a great way to further develop your skills in this area. To find out when a PADI Business Academy will be happening in your region click here.

Contact your PADI Regional Manager who can assist in setting goals for growth and can offer support, advice and assistance to ensure you have an amazingly successful 2017.

Additional Skills to Give You an Advantage as a PADI Instructor


PADI has been leading the way in the dive industry for the past 50 years. With consistent increases in new divers discovering the underwater environment the demand for Dive Instructors is also constantly increasing.

In days gone by simply gaining your PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Certification almost guaranteed you a job somewhere on this earth. With this ever increasing demand for Dive Instructors you are no longer just competing with local Dive Instructors in your area but with information technology changes it is easy to apply and be considered for a job anywhere in the world and therefore you are competing with Instructors with varying experience and expertise.

So, what can you do to increase your chances of gaining that dream job and to ‘stand out from the crowd’? As a Dive Centre training PADI Dive Professionals what can you include in your training to market yourself as training industry ready PADI Pros who are ready to hit the ground running?

Below are some skills that more and more are being expected of our industry professionals:

  • Social Media Understanding and Experience – For businesses in today’s landscape, customer acquisition, engagement and retention is top priority. Using Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram and YouTube is almost the norm for business marketing. Understanding the importance of social media for marketing a Dive Centre and having experience using this will assist in your application. Adding logos to photos, editing video content, linking social media channels together along with utilising and understanding SEO and key words are important skills in today’s industry.
  • Blog Writing – To rank well on search engine platforms, a Dive Centre’s website should be mobile responsive and have up to date and relevant content. It should also be updated regularly and an easy way to achieve this is with an active blog. Understanding the importance for the business is one thing but having actively blogged previously, with the ability to include links in your CV to your blog posts, will again prove to a potential employer that you will be an asset to their team.
  • Sales Skills and Equipment Knowledge –  With PADI Freediver, sidemount, twins and rebreather divers now more common it’s important that PADI Professionals have a wide knowledge base covering information about the various equipment options divers now have. You don’t need to be an expert in all areas of diving but today’s Instructor is expected to have some knowledge of the different equipment setups and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Retail experience is often high on an employer’s wish list. Not just selling equipment, but promoting continuing education courses to enhance a divers experience, comfort and of course to sustain financial stability for the Instructor and Dive Centre.
  • Varying Teaching Abilities – Over the past 50 years there has been a lot of development beyond the original recreational dive courses once offered. With PADI TecRec programmes, Sidemount training, Freediver and so many specialties on offer the more you can teach the more employable you may be. Project AWARE philosophies and conservation initiatives are also becoming increasingly popular, with many volunteer organisations now catering to diver’s conservation knowledge and this experience is also a hot skill to have. Make sure you role model these behaviours yourself if you are marketing yourself as an environmentalist!
  • Underwater Photography and Videography Skills – Simply put – underwater imagery sells diving and promotes the sport. The ability to take a good underwater image or video clip which can then be utilised on a Dive Centre’s social media platforms is fast becoming a desired skill set.

Having any or all of the above skills and experience won’t do you any good unless of course you market yourself well! Make sure your cover letter and/or CV is up to date, professional and will stand out from a pile.

Dive Centre owners and staff can learn more about marketing their business by attending a PADI Business Academy.