So this weekend I hopped on a bus and headed up to Whangarei (pronounced fang-are-aye) which me 10hours instead of 4 (don't even get me started on that drama) Anyway because I was so late I had to stand on the deserted edge of town for an hour waiting for my pick up - which had left after waiting half an hour… I did eventually get to my hostel though and then it was quickly packing things up for the morning before hitting the hay. As I had an early start the next morning because I had to get to Tutukaka to go SCUBA DIVING!!
The ride to Tutukaka (too-too-car-car) flew by as I met a guy called David from Edinburgh and we chatted the whole way. Once I got there I filled in the deluge of paperwork and it wasn't long before we were on the boat, calypso, off to Poor Knights Island.
(I swam through this cave! Or rather I stopped moving and let the swell propel me under it!)
The trip out there was rough. It was only a few days ago that the cyclone passed through so although the visibility of water was back up to 20metres there was still a large swell and there were about 5 of us who were pasty by the time we arrived.
Poor Knights is a marine reserve area and so if you're found on the island its and instant $250,000 fine! The good bit is because of it's status as a marine reserve the area is incredibly beautiful
At our first stop I got to do some snorkelling and it was so much fun! I've never seen water so clear! The area I was snorkelling was around 16metres deep and I could see the sea floor perfectly, it was honestly a little unreal how utterly transparent the water was, and since it's a marine reserve the fish here have never known fishermen and so they were pretty fearless!
I have to say getting into the water didn't particularly help the seasickness like it usually does, probably because the water was still quite turbulent where we were snorkelling.
After snorkelling for over an hour we headed to a massive sea cave where you could create the most deafening echo! This was when everyone had lunch (I skipped this as I did not think eating was a good idea when I was already struggling to keep water down)
After the cave we set off to the final dive sight of the day, on the way over there Marie talked me through all the equipment I'd be using, as well as lots of safety instructions and the exercises I'd need to do as we descended to 12metres (we had to do this in stages as I couldn't look up for very long without feeling nauseated)
Now my dive didn't get off to the best of starts… The weight belt came loose, so my legs were getting dragged under, and then once that was sorted my flipper came off! Once everything was back on and tightened me and Marie started to descend.
Every metre you need to correct the air pressure in your ears and sinuses, that was fine and we got to about 6 metres down before I had to do the harder exercises. The first one was I had to let go of the mouth piece and then find it again, and since you can't hold your breath without damaging your lungs I had to blow out a steady stream of bubbled while trying to get hold of the mouth piece. That was easy enough, and most of the exercises were fine, you just had to watch your breathing and not panic.
The last exercise was the one that really got to my though. I had to let water into my mask and tilt my head back while breathing out my nose to push out the water, but obviously once you tilt your head back the water in the mask rushes into your eyes and nose. This one took a few attempts for me to do it without having a complete panic. I detested this exercise.
Scuba Diving was amazing. It really is a completely different world down there and I can completely see why people fall in love with it, once you're under it's utterly amazing. Having said that, the exercises you need to do were terrifying.
For some reason it never occurred to me that scuba diving would scare me. I think I just assumed it was an intense version of swimming, and since I adore being in the water I just assumed I'd love diving just as much. But this weekend was the first time I've ever actually been scared of the water.
Being 8 metres below the surface with water rushing into my nose and eyes while my mouth piece was floating off behind my head and my flipper coming loose, all the while trying not to panic and continue to breathe out, despite every instinct calling for me to hold my breath, was probably the most scared I've ever been. I'd rather do 50 bungy jumps than go through that again.
Once I was back on board and the other divers were coming up Chris, a lovely lady from Oz who has done over 600 dives, mentioned that she thought I was really brave doing my first dive at such a challenging spot. As although Poor Knights is a truly beautiful and unique diving spot it's not easy. (no one had told me that…)
Basically I'm so glad I went scuba diving but I'm in no rush to do it again any time soon. I am tempted by some of the training course you can do in aquariums and swimming pools though as I think that'd be a great way to get the hang of the exercises while feeling more secure.
One the ride back to land a massive pod of dolphins decided to join us! I've seen my fair share of dolphins since coming to NZ but this was by far the most I've seen all together and they just kept swimming along the boat for ages! (not that I saw too much of them as I was attempting to not throw up more than 10 times in one day- that's one record I'm in no rush to beat)
(embracing the salty waves and crazy hair a day at sea delivers!)
Once I caught the bus back to the hostel I decided to rejoice on being back on solid land with the threat of drowning behind me and go for a walk to the Whangarei Falls
looking down at the waterfall from above!
So glad I made time for this trek (although towards the end of the uphill stretch my legs weren't too happy with me putting them through 6+hours of swimming and diving and then a 2hour trek..)
I thought the sunspots made this picture really lovely so I thought I'd share this one rather than the others I took without.
By the time I got down to the base of the waterfall the sun was just beginning to set so I had the place to myself and it was such a beautiful and tranquil spot!
I've been playing around with my camera setting recently and I thought the in-action shots of my attempting to use the self timer were worth sharing!
(my poor nail polish chipped so badly after getting in and out of my wetsuit!)
I did eventually get the hang of it though and I think I got a few good photos!
I've had the most amazing weekend at Whangarei, one I doubt I'm going to forget in any hurry!