What Went Down at the Freediving New Zealand Depth Nationals 2018

If you’ve ever been curious about competitive freediving and what it takes to participate in a national competition, keep reading – we think you might be surprised. 

People say that freediving is about inward power, discipline and control – and this was acutely evident at Lake Taupo during the 2018 Freediving New Zealand Depth Nationals.

Competitive and recreational grade freedivers came together to take part in the three day competition. Many of the competitors hoped to walk away with a strong international ranking that they will take with them into future competitions.

Others, like New Zealander Ryan Hansen, are newer to competitive freediving and while they compete in the same disciplines (Constant Weight, Constant Weight No Fins and Free Immersion) the rules are more relaxed and they are here more for the experience of competition diving without so much of the pressure.

Ryan said “Having never been to a freediving competition before, going to the depth nationals was quite daunting. However as soon as I arrived I was welcomed and put at ease by the officials and other more experienced competitors. The atmosphere was supportive throughout the competition and I learned heaps. I will definitely be back next year”.

Each day of competition allows competitors to choose to do a different discipline each day or focus on one and submit the best for their final results. Competitors are required to announce the discipline of their dive and nominate the depth they will be attempting to reach.

Ryan finished in second place amongst the recreational male divers with dives of 21 metres for Constant Weight No Fins, and 30 metres in both Constant Weight and Free immersion.

Day one saw almost all competitors perform faultless dives including a National Record for Zimbabwe claimed by Matthew Woods in the Constant Weight No Fins discipline.

Day Two provided slightly more challenging conditions however judges saw several strong performances again.

Competition organiser Nick Rhodes believes that while it is incredible to see the performance of the competitors, the truly amazing part about competitions such as this is the sense of community.

“We have freedivers from different parts of the world, and completely different backgrounds, all here with a shared passion for the sport,” he said.

“For a sport that requires you to turn inward for strength while diving, there’s a real community vibe at competitions like this.”

PADI Regional Manager, Jen Clent, who was there over the three days of competition agreed.

“In freediving, rather than competitors feeling like they’re competing against one another, there’s a sense that they are competing against themselves. It is so great to see everyone sharing one another’s successes and just as strongly, the disappointment of an early turn or a red card.”

With successful dives ranging from 6 metres to 55 metres across both competition and recreational grades it really does go to show that these competitions welcome all level of divers and with the rapid growth of freediving, it’s only natural that more athletes will join this community of passionate athletes. Both Freediving New Zealand and sponsor PADI Asia Pacific are exciting to see just what that community grows into.

For the full list of results, visit the Freediving New Zealand Facebook Page.

Interested in becoming a PADI Freediver Centre? Talk to your Regional Manager to find out more.

Young Ocean Explorers and NZAEE Seaweek Contest

We all know kids are the future, and the sooner we encourage them to learn about and love our underwater world, the more equipped they’ll be to protect it.

Since 2012, PADI AmbassaDivers Young Ocean Explorers have been on a mission to inspire kids to love our ocean through entertaining education – and now they’ve taken it to the next level.

Their new interactive website is home to countless games, quizzes and videos that highlight the importance of caring for our oceans.

Together with NZAEE Seaweek, Young Ocean Explorers is offering students and their teachers the chance to win over $20K worth of prizes for themselves, their classroom and their school.

Entering the contest is easy – simply visit their website and sign up! Not only will you have the chance to win one of five incredible prize packages but you you’ll get access to hours of educational fun.

Entry is only open to teachers and students in New Zealand, so if you’re not eligible, feel free to pass the opportunity on to someone who is. Even if you’re not eligible, you can still sign up to access the incredible resources.

For more information, visit youngoceanexplorers.com

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.


PADI exhibits at TecFestNZ 2016

Tecfest NZ ran its 4th annual event over the weekend of May 6th-8th in Taupo, New Zealand. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the event with beautiful calm, warm and sunny conditions topside and great visibility and a balmy 17 degree water temperature.

Stunning conditions for the 4th annual TecFestNZ
Stunning conditions for the 4th annual TecFestNZ
The Beach set-up & dive site
The Beach set-up & dive site

For the first time this year PADI got involved in the annual TecFest NZ in Taupo to promote PADI TecRec programmes. A unique event in which the main objective of the event is actually go diving, rather than talk about it. 120 interested divers from all around the country attended this year’s event with many saying it was the best one yet.

Another big draw card was the high caliber of guest speakers:

Dr Simon Mitchell is a passionate diver and recognised as a leading international authority on diving and hyperbaric medicine. Simon conducted 2 presentations, the first on “Decompression Planning: how it works and current controversies” and the second on “Breathing Underwater: the respiratory challenges of deep compressed gas dives.” If you have ever had the pleasure of listening to Simon present you will know these were extremely interesting and very well attended.

Dr Simon Mitchel presenting

Pete Mesley inspired us all with his presentations on “Are Rebreathers Really the way to go in Technical Diving?” and ”So you have just done your initial Tech course – What next? Opportunities for Today’s Technical Diver” After a recent trip to the Great Lakes and photos from both there and Truk Lagoon included in his presentation Pete ignited everyone’s ‘Lust for Rust‘!

Matt Carter – marine archaeologist and  presenter from Coast NZ gave 2 great talks on the “Exploration of the final frontier: maritime archaeology, tech diving and the deep shipwreck resource” along with “Maritime archaeology in New Zealand, an untapped historical treasure.”

Matt Carter

Tom Crisp has a passion for cave diving like no other! His ‘The Push For More’ presentation all about his cave exploration in New Zealand was fascinating – who knew we had so many untapped cave systems to discover and explore.

Andrew from Global Dive introducing 2 divers to diving on twins
Andrew from Global Dive introducing 2 divers to diving on twins
2 excited divers headed to the water on twins for the first time.
2 excited divers headed to the water on twins for the first time.

With attendees ranging in experience from newly certified  Open Water divers right the way through to experts in their field and highly regarded technical divers and Instructors it was great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals all there for the same reason…Technical Diving.

Try dives were available in Full Face Mask, Twin Sets, Scooters and Sidemount. Divers were also out boat diving around the lake, drift diving the river and just generally having a good time!

Paul Ferguson - Snr Constable with the Police National Dive Squad talking through recent statistics and reiterating the 'safe diving practices' message
Paul Ferguson – Snr Constable with the Police National Dive Squad talking through recent statistics and reiterating the ‘safe diving practices’ message

It was fantastic to have Senior Constable Paul Ferguson give a talk about life as a Police Diver, the equipment they use and areas they dive and on a more serious note, some statistics around incidents here in NZ, whats going wrong and what dive practices (or lack of) are contributing to this high incident rate – something no matter what level diver you are we all need know.

PADI Regional Training Consultant Junya Kato and PADI TecRec Instructor Andrew Simpson presenting on Rebreather Courses and training.
PADI Regional Training Consultant Junya Kato and PADI TecRec Instructor Andrew Simpson presenting on Rebreather Courses and training.

Regional Manager Jen Clent was joined at TecFest NZ by PADI Regional Training Consultant and passionate tehcnical diver Junya Kato who took everyone through the PADI TecRec Courses available including both Open Circuit and Rebreather Courses for both diver level and Instructor level.

Thanks also to Andrew Simpson from Global Dive who assisted with explaining what all is involved in the training inlcuding how he runs the PADI Tec 40 CCR programme.

NZRIDG Update at TecFestNZ

New Zealand Recreational Dive Industry Group (NZRIDG ) Chair Richard Taylor gave industry an update on the newly formed New Representative Peak Body for the Recreational Diving Industry in New Zealand  along with an overview of the new Health & Safety regulations, Adventure Activities System and Certificate of Competence.

So, overall a fantastic weekend was had by all, many newly inspired divers with a new set of diving goals to achieve left Taupo happy after 3 great days. Divers now keen to dive a new wreck, head to a new destination or assist mapping marine archaeology sites all with the knowledge of how to get there. A big thanks to TecFest NZ organisers Chris Clarke and Brent McFadden.

If you would like any further information on PADI TecRec programmes or how you can achieve that next PADI rating please contact your PADI Regional Manager or Regional Training Consultant or visit padi.com.

PADI Freediver Programme comes to New Zealand

PADI Freediver Static PoolWith the PADI Freediver programmes recently launched at DEMA in November 2015, members in New Zealand were keen to jump on board and start offering PADI Freediver training to their customers.

PADI enlisted the assistance of 2 time Australian record holder, professional freediver and PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer Adam Stern to train a group of Freediver Instructors here in New Zealand.

The training was aimed at PADI Instructors who were already competent Freedivers. Adam fine-tuned their skills but focused mainly on teaching techniques, demonstrations of performance requirements, commonly encountered problems and emphasized ensuring all training was done in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

PADI Freediver Dynamic PoolThe training included knowledge development via the PADI Freediver digital product along with several Confined Water workshops covering Static Apnea, Dynamic Apnea and rescues. Open Water workshops went over Weighting and Free Immersion, Constant Weight Freedives and open water rescues.

PADI Freediver Rescue Open Water

Congratulations to all the new PADI Freediver Instructors – Bevan Blunden, Bryan Bailey, JJ Spiers, Josh Cochrane, Kelly Weeds, Ryan Hansen and Stuart Hofstetter.

Here’s what some of the new PADI Freediver Instructors had to say about the programme:

Bryan Bailey – Blenheim Dive Centre
“The new PADI freediver program is a great extension to the PADI range of courses, the theory and practical content is world class, attending the instructor course was inspiring and confidence building, this program has a big future, Adam Stern is a great asset to PADI.”

Ryan Hansen – Dive Zone Whitianga
“I found the PADI Freedive
r Instructor training very worthwhile, it was clear that the instructor trainer was extremely knowledgeable and was able to pass on that knowledge effectively. What I learnt during the course surpassed my expectations.”

Bevan Blunden – Splash Waikato
“The PADI Freediver Instructor course was amazing. Adam Stern provided such a great learning atmosphere with his dubious amounts of enthusiasm towards the sport. The PADI Freediver Instructor training fine-tuned my own skills and knowledge which has made me a better diver than ever before.”

JJ Spiers – Dive Zone Bay of Islands
“The PADI freediving Instructor course was awesome, truly a breathtaking experience! I was amazed at the depths we achieved during the course & the ease of doing so, learning new relaxation and breathing techniques made it possible to dive on one of New Zealand’s famous ship wrecks the HMS Canterbury. Gliding down through schools of travelly and kingfish on one breathe. Amazing. The study part of the course was fun too, it’s laid out in an interactive touch format which has some stunning photography and videos as well as that important information. Overall I really enjoyed the PADI Freediver Instructor course both in water & out. The course has made me much more confident in my free diving and rescue skills which I believe down the road when I begin teaching the course myself these skills will be invaluable!

Adam Stern – PADI Instructor Trainer
“I was so impressed with the skill level of the instructor candidates. They were so smooth and comfortable in the water that instead of teaching new technique I was simply tweaking existing technique which made it such a pleasure to be out diving in New Zealand waters. New Zealand now has 7 experienced Freediving instructors and the freediving community there is about to become a whole lot safer.”

Stuart Hofstetter – Paihia Dive
“I found the course excellent. Learning the science behind freediving and the correct way to teach, train and progress safely was a real eye opener. I’m hooked and can’t wait to start teaching!”
PADI Freediver Descending Open Water

Recognition Awards for Valued PADI Members

As PADI Regional Manager it’s always great to meet members all over my region. So many have been in this industry for a long time and their experience and knowledge is invaluable. The stories they have to tell about their life as PADI Pro’s could entertain divers for hours!

It was an absolute pleasure to recently present awards and certificates to the PADI Members below in New Zealand and Fiji. These PADI Professionals have invested at least 20 years into the dive industry.

It is a great part of the job where as Regional Manager I get to say thanks on behalf of PADI.

Ray Dolman celebrating 25 years of PADI membership
Ray Dolman celebrating 25 years of PADI Membership


Andrew Redfern celebrating 25 years of PADI membership
Andrew Redfern celebrating 25 years of PADI Membership


Tony Wolland celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Tony Wolland celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Mateo Tawake celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Mateo Tawake celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Gordon Wakeham celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Gordon Wakeham celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Jean Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji celebrating 20 years of Outstanding service
Jean Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji celebrating 20 years of Outstanding service


Marc McElrath celebrating 20 years of PADI membership
Marc McElrath celebrating 20 years of PADI Membership


Once again we thank all PADI members for their contribution to the dive industry and wish everyone a fantastic year to come in 2016.

Helping change the view of sharks…

As divers we have the unique opportunity to have a voice for marine creatures who don’t have one. Most of us do our part for marine conservation but not many are as committed as the Friends for Sharks crew.

Shark enthusiasts Kathryn and Nicholas took a year off from their day to day routine and created Friends for Sharks which is a marine conservation cause working to support charities Project Aware and Shark Trust and increase worldwide awareness of the plight of sharks.

Kathryn and Nicholas decided to spend one year on the road and have recently spent 6 months in New Zealand where they spoke to approximately 6500 people across 78 events. New Zealand PADI Regional Manager Jen Clent recently interviewed them about their trip so far.

Their aim:

  • Use our voices to promote marine conservation and increase worldwide awareness of the threats to sharks and rays
  • Educate and encourage people to become Friends for Sharks themselves and protect the oceans around them
  • Inspire people to be the change they want to see in the world
  • Reach audiences worldwide, including people of all ages and social backgrounds
  • Raise money for nominated charities
  • Conduct voluntary work across the globe to contribute to the local communities we visit

06-Tauranga-03 Shark Papanui

  1. When did you decide to pack up and spend a year on the road?

Friends for Sharks was born on August 28th 2014. Kathryn had just suffered a split disk earlier in the month and was confined to bed. Our work was seasonal and on a boat, so not only was Kathryn unable to work, but my work was also ending soon. Kathryn came up with the idea of us spending a year travelling to promote shark conservation as a way to employ our time productively as she recovered from her back injury.

  1. What did you set out to achieve?

The aim of Friends for Sharks is two-fold. Firstly and most importantly in our mind, to educate people as to the importance and plights of sharks and to encourage a desire to help sharks by developing an emotional connection through story telling. Secondly we raise money throughout the Tour in support of two charities: The Shark Trust and Project AWARE. 

  1. Where does your passion for sharks come from?

K: I’ve loved sharks for as long as I can remember. I took a shark book in to school for show-and-tell at the age of four. It was a classic 80’s book: shark attacks, teeth, blood etc. It made the rest of the children cry for which I was made to stand in the corner! I’ve always stood up for the underdog and at that moment sharks really seemed to have few friends.

N: Sharks have been a growing passion since I developed a love of the oceans at a young age. They’re an iconic group of creatures with fearsome reputations that from my experiences are entirely unfounded. As a diver, the more sharks I saw, the more I appreciated their grace and beauty. I don’t think there are many people who can spend much time with sharks and not develop a passion for them to some extent.

  1. Where have you spent your time on the road so far?

We started around Cornwall in the UK at the start of 2015. The trip really got going after 6 days in London at the end of February when we then flew to Vancouver for a week. This was followed by two weeks in Rarotonga the first of which was spent doing events, then enjoying a week off to recover from the previous 6 months of planning and organising. The bulk of our tour has been spent in New Zealand – 3.5 months travelling around the South Island, then 2.5 months working our way up from Wellington to Auckland.

  1. Where to after New Zealand?

We are currently in Melbourne, Australia, for 2 weeks where we have a couple of events, but are also enjoying a break with family. The next portion of our tour takes us to Fiji, Cambodia and Thailand. We have teemed up with a group called Projects Abroad who have invited us to spend time with them to share our knowledge and skills with their marine projects and local communities in those three countries. This will take us up to just before Christmas and the end of our Tour.

  1. What has been the thing that surprised you most on your trip so far?

We have talked to all ages from kindergarten through to retirement homes and what we’ve found fascinating is that the youngest children have the greatest love and fascination with sharks. There is almost no fear at all. From around the age of 6 onwards, more people mention being scared of sharks despite the fact that next to none of those people have seen sharks in the wild. While we did expect that to be the case to an extent, we were surprised by just how little fear was expressed by the youngest children and it is clear that as children grow up, the media they encounter – and no doubt warnings from parents and others – has a huge impact on how they view sharks. We are in essence bringing up another ‘Jaws generation’. 

  1. How many people have you delivered your message to?

While we’ve had to guesstimate numbers at our larger events, our current figure stands at approximately 6500 people across 78 events. We have also raised close to £8000 so far!

  1. What do you believe are the top 3 misconceptions people have about sharks?

I think the most common ‘I had no idea sharks…’ comment we’ve received from our talks has been about how calm and characterful they are.

Close in line would be beliefs around shark attacks and how they’re out to get us when really all they do is ignore us or occasionally come close to see what we are.

Finally, a common misconception is linking old to stupid. Sharks have been around for hundreds of millions of years and many people equate old to primitive, and that to stupidity. They tend to believe that sharks are essentially tubes with teeth, governed by their sense of smell and will eat anything they can get hold of. The reality is that they have considerable intelligence and often surprise with their adaptability.

  1. What advice would you give to the Dive professionals to assist in changing the publics opinion of sharks?

Share stories. We’ve found that the best way to engage people’s interest is by describing our encounters with sharks. Not only does this educate and correct the misconceptions listed above, but it’s the stories that people will remember. I would also hope that any business fortunate enough to operate where sharks are common, uses them as a draw not for ‘high adrenaline, scary shark encounters’, but promotes the grace, calm and beauty of these animals and takes the chance to educate their clients as to the true nature of sharks. It’s these people sharing their experiences with their friends who will spread the message still further. 

  1. Would you do it again?

No. The experience has been incredible but also very tough. If we were taken back to where we were just over a year ago knowing how we feel about it, we would definitely do it all again due to the huge amounts we’ve learned both about ourselves and new skills, but we won’t be doing a second World Tour.

  1. Where to next?

Once the tour is complete Friends for Sharks will likely go in to hibernation for a short while. We’re moving from the UK to New Zealand and have to find jobs and set up new lives. Once we’re settled though we aim to continue the shark work with schools and similar in our local area. We’d also like to develop some trips combining shark diving with evening lectures so if you might be interested in joining us for those in the future, join our newsletter and social media to keep up to date!

If you would like to donate to their cause or get involved in any conservation events there are always many things we as divers can do, simply check out Project Aware or contact your Regional Manager or local Dive Centre to find out how.