Frequently Asked Questions

When you first learn to dive it is quite normal to have a lot of questions. The training you receive will answer most of the questions you have but if you want advice on anything just ask! 

What is PADI?

PADI is an acronym for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. PADI is recognised as the world leader in diver education and certification. Your PADI certification will be recognised world-wide.

What pre-requisites must I meet to learn to dive?

Meeting the criteria is easy.

You must:

- be 10 years of age or older

- complete an RSTC medical questionnaire

- demonstrate basic comfort in the water - expert swimming skills are not required.

I have a physical disability. Will this preclude me from learning to dive?

Anyone who can successfully meet the RSTC medical and performance requirements of the course can become a PADI certified diver. Many of the skills are flexible in how they can be mastered and our qualified instructors will work with you using adaptive techniques to help you on your way to certification.

Where can I scuba dive once I’m qualified?

You make the choice based on your qualifications and experience. The Dive Otago Dive Club organises trips that will get you out diving regularly. You will meet like-minded people, have the opportunity to sharpen your skills and invigorate your life through interaction with the aquatic environment. Your PADI certification enables you to dive anywhere in the world. If it is other parts of New Zealand or the world you wish to dive, engage the services of the Dive Otago Travel Bureau (Emma). DOTB has a wealth of experience and can advise you on planned trips to exotic destinations or other travel, business or employment opportunities. On our dive site map (link) you can look at sites that are appropriate for your qualifications and experience level. If you are unsure you can always ask for our advice.

My ears hurt when I go to the bottom of a swimming pool or when I dive down snorkelling. Can I still learn to dive?

Yes, as long as you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the effect of water pressure on your ears. Your body is designed to adjust for pressure changes in your ears, you just need to learn how to achieve this. Once you learn the proper techniques, equalisation will become a natural habit.

Does a history of asthma preclude someone from diving?

Not necessarily. You will need to consult your doctor who will possibly send you for a further test to determine if diving is right for you.

What about sharks?

Sharks are very rare in our environment. Most divers grow to have a heathly respect for these amazing creatures so if you see one, consider yourself extremely lucky and enjoy your encounter! 

How deep do you go?

During your learn to dive course you will probably not go deeper that around 12 metres. As an Open Water diver you will be qualified to dive to 18m. If you go on to complete the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification, the recommended limit is 30m. With Deep Diver Specialty training and experience, the limit for recreational scuba diving is 40 metres/130 feet.

How long does a tank of air last?

This is a common question that unfortunately doesn't have a single answer. As an approximation, a diver sightseeing in calm, warm water in the 5 - 10 metre depth range can expect the average tank to last about an hour.

Can I do my certification dives while on holiday in a different location?

Yes, you can obtain a referral. This means you do all the classroom and pool training here at Dive Otago, then we refer you to the PADI Dive Centre of your choice. You can complete the remainder of your course there. Conditions may apply.

I wear glasses. Is that a problem?

No, not at all. If you have contact lenses, you shouldn't have any problems. You can even get prescription lenses in your mask!

What am I going to see while diving?

You will see numerous new and exciting things that many other people will never see firsthand. On your first Open Water dive, you will spend the whole time exploring and becoming familiar with the underwater world. We have awesome spots to explore, including wreck sites. Our local environment supports the growth of bubble kelp forests which provides ample opportunity to see huge numbers of marine life.

Do I have to renew my certification?

The PADI Open Water Diver Certification lasts for a lifetime. We do recommend a SCUBA Review if you have not dived for a while (a year or more). This is a refresher course with an Instructor that will help you regain your skills and confidence.

How much does it cost to take scuba lessons?

Compared with getting started in other popular adventure sports and outdoor activities, learning to scuba dive isn’t expensive.

For example, you can expect to pay about the same as you would for:

  • a full day of surfing lessons
  • a weekend of rock climbing lessons
  • a weekend of kayaking lessons
  • a weekend of fly-fishing lessons
  • about three hours of private golf lessons
  • about three hours of private water skiing lessons
  • one amazing night out at the pub!

Learning to scuba dive is great value when you consider that you learn to dive under the guidance and attention of a high trained, experienced professional – your PADI Scuba Instructor. From the first day, scuba diving starts transforming your life with new experiences you share with friends. And, you can do it almost anywhere there is water. Start learning online and get ready to take your first breath underwater!

Do women have any special concerns regarding diving?

Aside from pregnancy, no. Because physiologists know little about the effects of diving on the fetus, the recommendation is that women avoid diving while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Menstruation is not normally a concern.

What if I feel claustrophobic?

People find the “weightlessness” of scuba diving to be quite freeing. Modern scuba masks are available in translucent models, which you may prefer if a mask makes you feel closed in. During your scuba diving training, your instructor gives you plenty of time and coaching to become comfortable with each stage of learning. Your scuba instructor works with you at your own pace to ensure you master each skill necessary to become a capable scuba diver who dives regularly.

Why choose Dive Otago?

We have a long and safe history in SCUBA diver training at all levels. Managing Director and company founder Dave Watson has been teaching since 1991 and we are the only PADI 5 Star Career Development Centre in New Zealand - an award recognising that we meet the highest requirements for training SCUBA divers. Our often-admired world-class Dunedin facility has a heated dive pool, classrooms, retail shop, servicing facilities and hire department. We operate a dive boat called “Sea Horse” that is purpose built for the often challenging southern sea conditions. Just 30 minutes away is the most interesting training site in New Zealand, the Aramoana Mole. Perfect for all levels of training and recreational diving, it boasts a diverse range of aquatic life and a number of wrecks to explore.

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PADI Open Water Diver Course

STAR PADI Open Water Diver Course