Divers plunge into chilly 'black void'

ICE HOLE: A hardy group of divers cut a hole in the ice to experience water as cold as it gets in Lake Alta at the top of the Remarkables on Saturday. 
ICE HOLE: A hardy group of divers cut a hole in the ice to experience water as cold as it gets in Lake Alta at the top of the Remarkables on Saturday. 

What better to do on a brisk late-winter's day than cut a hole through the ice and take a dip in almost zero degree water?

The Cromwell Dive Club has organised the annual dip in Lake Alta at the top of the Remarkables mountain range, for the past 27 years.

Fourteen divers travelled from as far away as Dunedin to take part on Saturday, mostly wearing dry suits although a few hardy souls leapt in wearing bikinis and underwear.

CRAZY OR BRAVE: A diver surfaces from an ice lake in the Remarkables.
CRAZY OR BRAVE: A diver surfaces from an ice lake in the Remarkables.

Scuba instructor Levi Healey said it was the first time he had taken part.

The 50cm-thick ice was cut on Friday, allowing divers to head down in pairs, one holding a line connected to the surface.

Visibility was good in the fresh water and it was easy to see your buddy underwater.

However, there was little else to see in the 15-metre-deep lake.

"It was just like a black void. You just descended down to a silty sort of bottom. There was not much life in there," Healey said.

Warm soup greeted divers as they emerged from the cold water but given the bright sun and lack of wind, they were not as cold as in previous years, he said.

The Southland Times