Weightlessness, adventure and discovery are three words Michael Keller of New Zealand uses to describe the reasons behind his passion for diving. While 15 years ago he was turned off by the prospect of diving in a cold, murky lake in Switzerland, a dive in the Red Sea in Egypt a few years later had Michael instantly hooked.
Like many of us, Keller works a sedentary job so he particularly enjoys being active outside in his free time. He is currently a PADI Assistant Instructor and enjoys helping others maximize their underwater experience. “I originally did the Divemaster course to improve my own diving skills. But once I had experienced the gratification that lies in helping others to have more fun with diving, I decided I wanted more of this,” he says.
Keller has been on numerous dives, but exploring the sunken MS Mikhail Lermontov near Picton in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, is his favorite. He explains why: “At a depth of 12 to 37meters it is probably the only wreck of a cruise liner that is accessible to recreational divers. With a length of 175 meters it is so large that it offers new discoveries even for divers not certified for wreck penetration. A purpose-built diving lodge is only a 20 minute trip away from the wreck. This makes it possible to have three dives a day without hassle, and yet spend the nights on dry land.”
Keller has even experienced what many divers only dream of: ice diving. “The most challenging diving I did so far was ice diving. I did this last winter in Lake Alta, Otago, New Zealand,” says Keller.
“The water temperature of around zero Celsius is a challenge on its own. Even when using cold water suitable regulators, BCD and dry suit inflators can still freeze up in no time. Battery operated dive computers indicate ‘battery empty’ after a couple of minutes and stop working. In addition to this, Lake Alta is a mountain lake at 1800 meter altitude, above a ski field. This makes the logistics of getting there and spending a day there challenging and highly dependent on the weather,” he recalls.
Although challenging, he highly recommends giving ice diving a shot. Keller says, “Ice diving is totally worth it, and you can’t but laugh uncontrollably the first time you ‘stand’ upside down on the underside of the ice.”
Why does Keller like ScubaEarth?
“New Zealand where I live is something like a ‘fringe region’ for scuba diving; There is diving, but it’s not a big business here, so ScubaEarth is one way for divers to see what dives other divers are doing. It can give you ideas for dives to put on your to-do list.”
If you’d like to learn more about Michael Keller, visit scubearth.com; to learn more about scuba diving in New Zealand, click the Featured Destinations link from the top menu bar after logging in to ScubaEarth. If you’re a PADI Pro, please log in to ScubaEarth via the link on the PADI Pros Site.