Frequently Asked Questions

Can I try diving before I apply?

You sure can! If you are seriously considering doing a course call us to arrange a time to have a dive with one of our instructors in our heated dive pool.

Do I need to know how to dive before I start?

Not for the Diploma in Professional Scuba Instruction or the National Certificate in Diving Foundation courses . We will teach you right from the beginning, starting with basic snorkelling, skin diving and scuba skills.

What are the hours?

Full-time programmes are usually 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday with some days finishing earlier and some evening sessions to complete night dive training.
Part-time programmes are usually held over several weekday evenings (6pm to 9pm) and a couple of weekends (8:30am - 5pm) per month and the occasional evening session to complete night dive training.

Do I need to be a strong swimmer?

Every student must be able to swim 200m or snorkel 300m and float/tread water for 10 minutes. Professional level divers (Divemasters) and above will need to be relatively strong swimmers.

What equipment will I need?

This depends on the programme you are enrolling on.


A suit (semi-dry, wetsuit or drysuit), mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, boots, weight belt, weights, dive knife, torch x 2, pocket mask, slate and pencil, safety sausage, whistle, a gear bag and a dive watch. Although it is not compulsory, it is recommended that you have your own BCD, regulator, dive computer and camera.

Lease-to-own is a popular way for students to complete the Diploma in their own equipment, paying it off on a weekly basis. This is done on a no interest agreement with Dive Otago and gives you the opportunity to be ready to work as soon as you graduate.


Gloves, boots, dive knife, torch x 2, pocket mask, slate and pencil, safety sausage and a whistle. Although it is not compulsory, it is recommended that you also have BCD, regulators, dive computer, a suit (semi-dry, wetsuit or dry suit), mask, snorkel and fins.


Weight belt, weights, boots, gloves, torch x 2, dive knife, safety sausage, slate and pencil and a pocket mask.


A suit (semi-dry, wetsuit or drysuit), mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, boots, weight belt, weights, dive knife, torch x 2, pocket mask, slate and pencil, safety sausage, whistle, a gear bag and a dive watch. Although it is not compulsory, it is recommended that you have your own BCD, regulator, dive computer and camera.

Our retail store is packed with all the latest dive gear and expert advice to help you make sensible and informed choices. Every year we put together tailored packages and special prices for our students to suit your individual diving needs and budget.

How much does the equipment cost?


For Diploma students the minimum gear required will cost you approximately $1750.  If you are getting a student loan or allowance, career course students can apply for up to $1000 course related costs to go towards equipment.

We strongly recommend our Diploma students also purchase their own hardware (BCD, regulators, computer) since you will require this once you graduate. If purchacing hardware from we can offer  ‘lease to own’ and this can be paid off during your training.

As you will be graduating as a professional level diver it is advisable to consider upgrading to ensure you have the best gear that is fit for purpose and will last not only for your training but well into your career in the industry.


For Foundation students the minimum gear required starts from $699.


For Leadership students the minimum gear required starts from $699.


For Instruction students the minimum gear required starts from $1750.


What are the medical criteria?

All Dive Otago Career Course students are required to have an RSTC Medical questionnaire completed and signed off by a Doctor trained in Diving Medicine (Broadway Medical Centre - Dunedin). Professional divers must obtain an OSH medical if working in New Zealand.

Can I dive if I have asthma?

This will be determined by your doctor during your diving medical examination. It is common for diving doctors to refer you for a further saline challenge which will determine your suitability to dive.

Where will I be diving during my programme?

You will be diving mostly around Dunedin and Otago. Some of the main sites include the Aramoana shipwrecks, Wellers Rock, Otakau Wall, Harington Point, Fish Reef, Moeraki and Shag Point. These are only some of the dive sites and if you are enrolled in the Diploma programme, you will likely be diving in Milford Sound - one of New Zealand’s most pristine destinations which is renowned for its underwater and above water scenery.

Will I be diving over winter?

Yes, our Diploma programme is run over 36 weeks starting in February and August each year. The equipment you will purchase/rent will be suitable for diving in our local environment all year round.

How old must I be to undertake a career programme?


Diploma students must be 18yrs old prior to Divemaster (Term 2) to undertake this programme.


Foundation students must 16yrs old to undertake this programme.


Leadership students must be 18yrs old to undertake this programme.


Instruction students must be 18yrs old to undertake this programme.

Is it easy to get a job as a dive instructor?

Yes! There are approximately 5-10 new jobs advertised EVERY DAY on the PADI website alone. These jobs are based in over 180 countries and territories around the world including New Zealand. Dive Otago also have contacts and graduates placed around the globe and offer job placement assistance at the completion of your training.

Visit to see the exotic destinations our graduates have ended up.


Is my qualification valid worldwide?

Yes PADI is the world’s largest training organisation and is active in over 180 Countries and territories worldwide. PADI divers are certified to dive in areas and under conditions similar to those in which they are trained. Due to Dunedin diving conditions and training all year round Dive Otago trained divers gain experience that will enable them to dive and teach diving in almost any environment in the world.

How much theory and class work is involved?

This depends which programme you complete. It is very important to have a good understanding of the theory behind diving to keep yourself safe. Most courses have a manual to read and you will be required complete some knowledge reviews. Once you reach the professional levels (Divemaster and above) there is a fair bit of theory - you learn about dive physics, physiology, decompression theory and a few other subjects. You will be given plenty of time to read your materials and complete assignments. Don't worry - most people do well and find it achievable!

Do I need to be able to use a computer?

Some computer literacy is important and will make assignments and class presentations easier. Some diver materials are also available in both paper and digital form therefore being able to navigate around a computer once you receive these materials is a good skill to have.

What is a unit standard?

Unit standards are the specific tasks that need to be achieved to complete a qualification. Each unit standard will have a specific focus and will be worth a particular number of credits. Unit standards are set at different levels. They have been developed to cover the skills and knowledge of specific areas within the industry and are developed by experts in their field and registered on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

What is the advantage of completing the National Qualifications instead of just the individual PADI Certifications?

Along with obtaining the PADI certifications you gain other industry required skills along the way that are not necessarily covered by PADI. These include unit standards assessing compressor use and tank filling, weather interpretation, developing a current dive focused CV, risk management and much more. You not only complete the minimum dives for each PADI certification but often several more dives and class sessions based around the unit standard assessments for particular dive areas. An example of this is the PADI Advanced certification in which you are required to complete 5 adventure dives. During the Diploma you will complete a minimum of 8 adventure dives.

At the completion of our Diploma, graduates are ready to hit the ground running in any dive centre around the world. Feedback from employers overseas has been nothing but positive and several companies both in New Zealand and overseas now actively seek our Diploma graduates as they are so impressed with the quality of training they have received.

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