by Richard Taylor:
In May 2015, sixty eager technical divers, instructors, and members of the New Zealand Dive Industry met at Lake Taupo for the 3rd Annual TecFestNZ. An annual celebration of diving’s camaraderie, TecFestNZ is the key place for New Zealand’s keen and growing number of technical divers to meet, share stories, and try new gear and plan travel & training for the next year. For the third year in a row TDI has both supported, and been supported by, the event with an ever growing number of people undertaking Try Dives or completing their TDI Intro to Tech program.
This year’s TecFest included two half days of Try Dives with divers getting the chance to try a range of equipment including twin tanks, sidemount, full face masks, scooters and rebreathers. An afternoon of dry workshops and two evenings of presentations ensured a busy but relaxed atmosphere and allowed all participants to mingle, discuss diving and get some valuable tips from the many TDI instructors present. This year’s presentation theme was Dive Travel with talks on the great tech diving at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve off the north coast of New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, and Scarpa Flow as well as a taste of technical diving in Australia, Vanuatu, Truk, Wakatobi and Sri Lanka.
As part of TecFest, TDI Australia again provided free Intro to Tech programs for interested participants, with 10 divers taking up the offer and starting their technical dive training adventure. TDI Instructors ran various dives for the group with stage tank use, twin tanks, sidemount, buoyancy, fin techniques and SMB deployment skills covered. As in previous years the interest to proceed further with additional TDI training was strong with many of the divers keen to talk about the next step.
Rebreathers are no stranger at TecFest with Inspirations, rEvos, JJs, KISS and an ISC Megaladon and Pathfinder being dived. CCR Try Dives was again on offer for the KISS, ISC and JJ units with the OC Tech Divers talking to instructors about courses and unit availability. Add to this the dry suits, scooters and other tech hardware on show and available for dives and it really showed the benefits to the supporting manufacturers in attending the weekend’s events. Boat dives were offered for attendees with many undertaking decompression, extended range, and CCR dives at some of the deeper sites available at Lake Taupo.
Organised by Go Dive Marlborough’s Owner, and SDI/TDI Instructor Trainer, Brent McFadden and Dive Wellington’s TDI Instructor Chris Clarke, TecFest is without doubt New Zealand’s premier Technical Diving Event. The strong supporting TDI Instructor group included NZ based SDI/TDI IT Richard Taylor, Go Dive Marlborough’s Instructor & the Mikhail Lermontov’s Sidemount Guide Brent Robinson, NZ Diving’s SDI/TDI IT Neil Bennett & SDI/TDI Instructor Philip Walker, Global Dive’s TDI Tech & Cave Instructor Jamie Obern, TDI CCR Instructor Sean Muller, NZ Sea Adventure’s TDI IT & CCR Instructor Tony Howell and SDI/TDI IT & CCR Instructor Paul Trainer. A fantastic collection of some of New Zealand’s most experienced technical trainers and a great opportunity for those attending TecFest to engage with and learn from them in a relaxed and social environment.
A great video run down of the weekend by Frontline Photography is available for view on vimeo at https://vimeo.com/127451915
TecFest 2016 is already set for 06-08 May next year and all details & booking information can be found at www.tecfestnz.com.
With a small but expanding number of cave diving sites, impressive dives at the Poor Knights Islands and the world famous Russian cruise liner the Mikhail Lermontov, New Zealand offers the technical diver a wealth of opportunities, and is the perfect place for both a diving holiday and a tour of one of the world’s most beautiful countries. More than just the home to Hobbits and Middle Earth, NZ diving includes sub tropical reefs, numerous wrecks and great spearfishing. Add game fishing and hunting for the adventurous, or hot pools, geysers, world famous wines and some of the best food, beer & coffee you could find. Mixed in with bungee jumping, jet boat trips and 5 star spa lodges, New Zealand is truly a magical place to visit, and with TecFest2016 already set for next year now is the perfect time to plan your stay!