After taking a year-long break from Scuba Diving and missing my certification by one dive; it was time to suit up and take the plunge – literally – back into the cold water. But this time, I wasn’t heading into the dark depths of the Scottish waters, oh no. Instead, I was about to plunge into the waters of Milford Sound. One of the most beautiful places in the world. Scuba Diving in Milford Sound was incredible! Not only because I become a qualified Open Water Diver. The marine life and my experience under the water, was awesome!
Scuba Diving in Milford Sound is run by an awesome couple, Simone and Lance. Together, these guys are Descend – the only scuba diving company in Milford Sound! In Scotland I began my scuba diving training with BSAC but transferred to PADI to complete training with Descend. Once a refresher in the calm Queenstown Lake was out the way it was time to wrap up, hop on the boat and head into the Fiord.
Meeting at 9am I was handed my thick wetsuit, two wetsuit vests, wetsuit socks, shoes and finally gloves and a hood. Although the water is cold – although, not as cold as Scotland – a wetsuit and multiple layers was enough to keep a comfortable temperature under the water. We hopped on the speed boat; with our tanks and equipment set up it was time to check out the dive sites. I was SO excited to get back in the water!
Scuba Diving in Milford Sound is an incredibly unique experience.
You are diving in one of the wonders of the world – I mean, how many people can say that?! – and due to the amount of rain in Milford Sound – up to 9 metres a year! – it creates a unique marine life experience.
For a nature nerd – like me! – Scuba Diving in Milford Sound is great! In 1993 it became one of the first marine reserves in Fiordland. Covering 690 hectares, it protects the magnificent life found here. In particular black coral trees (which are actually white!). Normally growing at depths of 100 metres plus, thanks to the legendary large rainfall draining into the fiords mixed with the high mountains blocking light, these beautiful giant corals have migrated to shallower depths. Perfect viewing for us lucky divers! Not only is Black Coral a rare site to see, scuba diving in Milford Sound offers a chance to see marine life unique to the area. Such as the seven gilled shark!
This was my first dive out of Scotland and I was hoping – but equally not – to see a shark on my dive or at lest to see more life than the occasional starfish.
Taking the plunge, signalling OK and descending down into the depths; I was officially Scuba Diving Milford Sound, exploring a side of this breathtaking landscape most will never see. Crossing from fresh water to salt water was the weirdest sensation. It’s almost as if you begin to look through a camera lens which can’t focus. Everything slowly turns to a blur, but the fish still race around you – occasionally nibbling my suit.
Looking up, it was as if the fresh water above was clouds.
Beautiful swirls of white above and bustling marine life below. Looking down and around me, the wall became alive with beautiful coloured corals, schools of fish and incredible trees of Black Coral!
Simone led the way, watching my skills and assessing me but also – as she knew how much of a nature junkie I am – pointing out the incredible marine life that I would never have spotted myself. Octopus, Nudibranchs, Wrasse, Moki, Moray Eels and the highlight; Seals came out to say hello! Scuba Diving in Milford Sound was blowing me away.
We did two dives in total for the day. Each lasting around thirty to forty-five minutes depending on how much air we used. Each time we came up, Lance would help us back onto the boat and immediately shove chocolate and hot coffee at us – apparently chocolate is good at combating the bends? – not that I complained!
Ending the perfect day – not only passing my open water course – by taking a ‘glacial facial’ under the epic Stirling Falls in Milford sound, very refreshing! It was time to head back to shore.
Just as I thought the day couldn’t get better, I saw my first Dolphin in the wild, just as we pulled into Deep Water Basin.
Scuba Diving in Milford Sound need I say again, is incredible and anyone keen to explore the Fiord in a different way. Should get on this! The crew at Descend were fantastic and I couldn’t have asked to get certified in a more epic place.
Once you have finished Scuba Diving in Milford Sound you have to spend a night there. It’s against PADI regulations after two dives to head up into altitude. You risk decompression sickness and the bends.
So remember; if you plan to Scuba Dive in Milford Sound, book accommodation or your camping spot in advance. Don’t risk driving back over the Milford Road because you were unorganised. It’s not worth it.
So you’re a keen diver like me, where’s the most epic place you’ve Scuba Dived?