ONE PLANET, DIFFERENT WORLDOn the North Island of Aotearoa, central New Zealand, lies the thermal active region of Rotorua, the cultural heartland, and home to 18 stunning lakes, one of which was the home of the Pink and White Terraces, revered the 8th Wonder of the World, before it was destroyed by a volcanic explosion in 1886.

It is also home to Aotearoa Dive, one of Scuba Schools International’s newest dive training facilities, owned and operated by Adrian ‘Bev’ Bebbington and Renee Tapsell.

With many years of experience diving and working all around the globe, as dive instructors and dive resort managers, they finally decided they wanted a new challenge and started the process of setting up their own dive business. Having worked at high-end resorts where standards and facilities were high, they knew this level of detail and customer focus could be applied to their business model.

They completed their final tropical contract in Fiji and with New Zealand being on their doorstep, combined with the fact Renee is a native Kiwi (Te Arawa, Ngati Whakaue), they booked their flights. This would be their first temperate water location and they both agreed it was important to gain experience in colder waters.

Initially they worked as instructors in the south of the North Island in the capital, Wellington, and then moved to the big smoke, Auckland, for the next two years. This was part of their plan, to fully understand the dive industry in NZ, to know what the customers required and identify potential locations for the new facility.

During the formation of their new business, Covid struck and the world changed. This did not deter their plans, they knew it would work, others advised they were crazy to open a new business during a global pandemic. They decided to register the business on 1 April 2021, as it seemed appropriate, found the perfect premises in Rotorua, and began the build converting an old Indian grocer into perhaps Aotearoa’s most-modern and progressive dive centre. After many delays due to Covid restrictions, Aotearoa Dive was launched in September 2021.

Today Aotearoa Dive is an award-winning SSI Diamond training centre catering to entry level, recreational, extended range, freediving, and instructor career development programmes. It has a retail store, an onsite dive equipment service centre and is equipped with two classrooms, compressor, and an undoubtable vibe of Manaakitanga (the process of showing respect, generosity, and care) and whanaungatanga (the connection between people; kinship).

Aotearoa Dive runs Māori community-based dive programmes, these are SSI open water diver courses to upskill the local community on how to keep themselves safe when conducting dives and making informed choices when out in the water, funding has been put into place for these programmes by the local Iwi (Māori leaders). This programme is more than just a dive course, it’s about the healing power the ocean can bring, a reconnection back to Te ao Māori through nature, creating advocates for our oceans and lakes.

With the help of the Iwi, they also secured funding to create traineeships for youth who would like a career in the dive industry. By training them up to instructor level, creating a selfperpetuating programme for ‘our people, training our people’.

Aotearoa Dive is a Blue Oceans dive centre and conduct big yearly clean ups with plans to clean all 18 Lakes over a span of eight years, they have affiliations with the community councils and environmental groups working together for a better outcome for the people, marine animals, and the stunning natural environment.

Since being in operation for almost a year this September, Aotearoa Dive is the number one certifying SSI dive centre within Aotearoa, New Zealand. This is due to their focus on education, high level of service resulting in customer retention and is likely down to the fact that Bev and Renee are incredibly passionate about what they do and continue to inspire those that cross their path.

We all live on one planet, let us show you a different world!