In 2005 I had the privilege to travel across the ditch to the Land Down Under (otherwise known as Australia) on a family vacation. A few weeks to visit Whanau and explore the pristine east coast via a rental car that absolutely could not hold the amount of Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Brothers we were visiting. Unbeknownst to me this unassuming trip is where my passion for the ocean would develop, which lead me to where I am today working as an Open Water Specialty Scuba Instructor.
From the Gold Coast to Cairns we zig-zagged out way up the coast. Visiting every back wood town possible. Every beach we found we swam at. Every waterfall we trekked to. It wasn’t until the later half of the trip my father suggested we go on a day trip out to the famous Great Barrier Reef, an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. As a nerdy/very uncomfortably awkward kid growing up I wasn’t the most athletic, never excelled in any particular sport but my goodness chuck me in the pool or the ocean and my parents would have to literally drag me out whilst I threw a hissy fit.
So naturally the trip out to the reef was something that held my excitement as soon as we discussed it. A bit overwhelmed by the shear number of people they fit onto a boat, freshly bought mask and snorkel in hand I ran from bow to stern taking in the sights of the open ocean (which unsurprisingly didn’t wield much but just the fact I was on the water was enough for me). We finally moored at our snorkeling site after which seemed to be an eternity. I had never seen a fish underwater, as a matter of fact the only fish I had ever seen were on the end of my fathers fishing pole or in goldfish tanks, not knowing what to expect I take the plunge off the edge of the pontoon. A Green Sea Turtle greets me as I orientate myself in the water. The first aquatic animal I had ever seen in its natural habitat. I am absolutely dumbfounded. At this moment I knew I wanted to feel this way for the rest of my life.
So that’s exactly what I strived to do. As a young lad I was lucky enough to do a little bit of travel around South East Asia and complete my PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water on a little island called Koh Tao in Thailand. From here I looked at potential countries to develop my diving skills to become an PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. I just so happened to come across something on a visit to my hometown in Christchurch. “Get a Diploma in Professional Scuba Instruction” from Dive HQ a cheeky Instagram ad (Zuckerberg must have been listening) and it all clicked, I couldn’t think of a better way to complete my goal than in my own moana. So that’s exactly what I did.
I packed my life into my car and made the journey up north from Otutahi to Tamaki Makaurua, excited about the prospects of a year of hard mahi and coming out as a PADI Open Water Instructor. Through some solid tuition and and some hardwork through COVID lockdowns I finally realised my dream and came out the other end with a fresh Diploma and a job offer I couldn’t resist as a new up and coming instructor. I look back on my first trip to the Great Barrier Reef, reflecting on how far I had come from that moment, I couldn’t think of a
better way to take the plunge.