Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Tell Me More!

General Questions

How do I get more information?

Just hit the enquiry button, send us a message, and we will be in touch ASAP to arrange a time to talk. 

Alternatively you can email us directly on

How is Pure Exploration different from other programs?


We are a small and specialized company, allowing us to respond to feedback and continuously improve our programs for the changing needs of our participants. We have significant international experience, Adventure Tourism & Tourism experience.

Are flights included in the program cost?

No, most internal transport is provided for you but you will have to source your own flights to the start-point and from the end-point.

Will I get to see much of NZ on the Adventure Guide Program?

YES! Over 12 weeks we travel quite extensively throughout the program. You will visit many towns, national parks, sightseeing locations and areas of interest, many of which are not on the 'standard' itineraries of tour operators or activity providers. The time of year of your course will determine which areas/regions of the South Island we visit.

Where do the participants come from?

Most of our participants are from Europe, North America and Australia. We have also hosted participants from South America, Asia, New Zealand and South Africa. The majority of our participants come from countries who are able to get Working Holiday Visas in New Zealand, allowing them to stay after the program, work, and travel for up to a year. This is not mandatory though, all of our programs only require a tourist visa. 

Is this an outdoors program?

We offer adventure tourism and travel programs. They provide an excellent window into outdoor education or guiding, as it pertains to the adventure industry. We do also cover adventure leadership. However, the program is about personal development and growth through travel and adventure as well. A big part of that is interacting with the natural environment and experiencing adventure sports in the outdoors.

Will I get independent free time?

You will have one scheduled admin/free-time day per week + one "self directed learning day" where you may want to practice skills learnt from the week or complete your logbooks or admin.

We generally aim to give you a bit of time off when possible to allow you to integrate, explore and socialise in our vibrant resort community.

That said, we are either training or out exploring for a fair portion of the program! The program is based on modules, so after each module there is a bit of allocated free time. During the break participants going exploring in groups or solo, and many use their newly discovered passions while there away!

Do you have any shorter programs?

Yes - due to strong demand we have implemented a 6 week option for the NZ Adventure Guide program. On this program you will gain 2 weeks of Hiking modules, 2 weeks of climbing modules, PHEC first aid certification + Swift Water rescue certification. 

Fitness & Experience

Do I need any experience in the outdoors?

No professional experience is required. Just an adventurous, social and active attitude that’s open to being immersed into new cultures, environments and trying new things.

All we ask for is a positive attitude and a willingness to participate in the activities we engage in throughout the course. We can discuss your suitability for the program on enquiry and point you in the right direction. 

We do require a demonstrable ability to conduct medium level adventure activities and therefore require a moderate or above fitness level. 


How fit or active do I really need to be?

We do require a demonstrable ability to conduct medium level adventure activities and therefore require a moderate fitness level.

Participants will engage in activities like rock climbing, tramping, and swimming, and should be comfortable doing such. Prior experience in these activities is not necessary, but participants should be fit enough to carry single to multi-day packs for a minimum of 5 km and will find more enjoyment in the activities we do on course with higher fitness levels. 

There will always be group members who are fitter and stronger than the majority of the group, and some who are a bit slower. In a group instruction situation, if a participant’s lack of fitness/ability severely affects the running of the program the participant(s) will be asked to remain at the hut or other location for certain activities. The guide is the final arbiter in these decisions.

What about physical or medical conditions?

 Please discuss with us any physical or medical conditions so we can offer the best advice. 

Safety & Security

How does Pure Exploration maintain safety?

Medical & Security Assistance

This is a true advantage and commitment to safety. We retain a medical and security assistance company who provide specialist advice prior to our departures regarding all aspects of our travel itineraries and physical on the ground support in the event of an emergency. 

All participants are required to provide to us proof of their own travel insurance prior to departure also. 


We maintain a ratio of 1 leader for every 8 participants for adventure travel, and our ratios change based on the industry best practice standards for our delivery of adventure activities. This means we have really personal levels of support available to you at all times!



Participants are given training early during orientation specific to the country and culture. This includes tips on personal safety, health and hygiene, hazards, food, and much more. Our leaders then monitor and support this throughout the program. Adherence to our few simple behaviour rules ensures this keeps you fully focused on exploration and development.


External Auditing

Pure Exploration is audited by AdventureMark. We are also a partner organisation of the Department of Conservation New Zealand. We strive to exceed New Zealand’s rigorous and proven standards of excellence in tourism and adventure.  

Outdoor Instructor Program

What visa do I require for this program?

This is dependent on how you want to do the Program. There are three options below:


You can apply for a working holiday visa and use that for a year. 


You can apply for three separate 90 days visas and return home after each semester is completed.


If you are from a visa waiver country you can apply for a 9 month tourist visa.


Are there any prerequisites or a certain level of fitness needed for the program?

  • English Language Fluency
  • Be 18+ years old at time of commencement
  • Moderate fitness is required.
    • You should be able to carry 15kg+ over moderate undulating terrain, for 7-8 hours
    • You should be able to swim 100m in casual clothing, with sneakers, unassisted
    • You should be able to climb an indoor grade 16 route
  • Have a passion for outdoors and adventure
  • A desire to accept challenges, a thirst for knowledge, a love of outdoor activities or for our natural environment
  • Be a social team player that enjoys helping others discover adventure!

Are their tuition payment plans?

Food & Accommodation is paid on semester by semester basis. Tuition is paid upfront.

Do you have to complete the program within 1 year?

This will be decided on a case-by-case basis but we advise everyone to try and complete in one year.



Are the qualifications Internationally recognised?

Each country has their own framework of outdoor guiding certifications. It's not until you get to Mountain federated Guide that there is an international body. So it is important to get yourself certifications that are going to be well recognised, well known and well respected! The NZOIA ones most certainly are, not only because it’s an independent assessing authority but also because of NZ’s outstanding reputation for outdoor and adventure pursuits. NZOIA certs looks very good on your CV, particularly in the likes of North America and Europe as they are well regarded by employers.

This NZ program gains participants the following guiding qualifications:

  • NZOIA Bush Leader
  • NZOIA Rock Leader OR/ 
  • NZOIA Bush Instructor (Level 1)
  • NZOIA Rock Climbing Instructor (Level 1)

You'll also get:

  • Pre-hospital Emergency Care Qualification (PHEC)
  • Swift Water Rescue Safety Level 1
  • Pure Exploration Certificate of Outdoor Education & Instruction 


What is the work placement add-on for the Outdoor Instructor Program?

We will help you in every way we can to secure employment after your program! A good attitude and work ethic will speak volumes. We have many relationships and contacts for you to utilise. Once working you can expect a minimum of NZ$18 an hour. Work hours can be sporadic in Queenstown, depending on how busy the season is. If you need the certainty of work, you can select the work placement add-on for NZ$1500 and we will organise this on your behalf with one of our partner employers.  

Educational Qualifications

What qualifications will I gain from the Adventure Guide Program?

On the Adventure guide program, you will gain NZOIA Rock leader OR NZOIA Canyon Leader plus NZOIA Bush Leader, PHEC first aid/International first Aid, Swift Water Rescue + Adventure Guide Program completion cert 


What qualifications will I gain from the Expedition Leader Program?

On the Expedition Leader Program, you will gain an NZOIA Bush Leader qualification and a Wilderness First Aid certificate. You will also gain experience in adventure travel management, expedition/travel medicine, youth work, peer leadership, high alpine/steep terrain/swift water management and leading others above 5,000m

Are the qualifications from the program internationally recognised?

Each country has their own framework of outdoor guiding certifications. It's not until you get to Mountain federated Guide that there is an international body. So it is important to get yourself certifications that are going to be well recognised, well known and well respected! The NZOIA ones most certainly are, not only because it’s an independent assessing authority but also because of NZ’s outstanding reputation for outdoor and adventure pursuits. NZOIA certs looks very good on your CV, particularly in the likes of North America and Europe as they are well regarded by employers.

Accommodation & Meals

Is accommodation Included in the program cost?

Yes, 12 weeks of accommodation is included in the cost. Accommodation throughout the program varies. For the Adventure Guide Program you can expect a house/lodge as your base, with camping in tents, huts and occasional hostels thrown in along the way. The Expedition Leader Program is much more fluid and you can expect to sleep in hostels, homestays, camping in tents, overnight trains/buses and tea houses!


This excludes the Outdoor Instructor Program

Do you cater for dietary requirements?

Absolutely, we do cater for most requirements – vegetarian, vegan, celiac. Since you do your own food shopping, it will mainly be your responsibility to make sure you are following any dietary requirements you may have.

This is always worth discussing with us on application.

Are all meals included?

Meals are provided during the programs excluding your days off. For the Adventure Guide Program you will shop as a team with a weekly budget, allowing you to get creative and share favourite recipes and meals from home. 

Meals when you are on free time are yours to source. This enables you to get time out, explore, or just plain old eat whatever you desire!

You may find yourself eating out more on the Expedition Leader Program, with budgets being set and deciding as a group where to eat collectively, or perhaps in smaller groups. But don't worry, no matter what program you're on - you won't go hungry!

Travel Insurance & Visa

Do I need a visa?

For the Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown you may need a tourist visa depending on your citizenship - see here:

You will need a Working holiday Visa if you intend to work whilst in NZ / during your program. See below for information and support:

You will also need visas for the Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, as well as various visas for the Expedition Leader Program. Our sales team will discuss this with you during your interview and follow up calls in the lead up to departure.

Is travel insurance a requirement? Why?

Absolutely. We will require proof of your travel insurance for the period of time you will be on programs. In the unlikely event you have a medical illness or emergency while away with us we guarantee you'll want to be covered! We provide all assistance to you in terms of obtaining attention, however you will need your own insurance to cover any costs once you have sought medical advice or treatment.

Employment opportunities

Will I be more employable?

Your newfound understanding of the adventure tourism industry, adventure recreation as well as New Zealand destinations, activities, and culture will certainly be appreciated by employers in New Zealand and abroad. 

During month three we host a networking event in Queenstown for our students to meet some of Queenstown's biggest tourism companies. Our vast network of New Zealand tourism operators, guides, and outdoor education centres allow us to help you get connected to the right employer when possible. 

Do people only use the Adventure Guide Program as a way to work in the the industry?

No, although it is a training course that up-skills you in two core disciplines, 50% of people also use it for their own personal development and to build up their self-sufficiency in the outdoors.  As well as that, our programs allow people to experience travel in a completely unique way - whether it be taking in the landscapes of New Zealand and Patagonia whilst dangling from a rope or camping with your crew at the end of a multi-day hike.

Program Payment

Do you offer any scholarships or financial aid?

We don't offer scholarships and therefore this would be up to you to organise if you attend a school or college that provided funding for students to study abroad. We do however offer payment plans so you can spread your course fees out over the year, reach out if you'd like to discuss our payment plans further.


What are your payment plan options?

The standard plan is 15% deposit, NZ$2000 installment after 3 months, final balance due 60 days prior to start date.


This excludes The Outdoor Instructor Program

What type of jobs are available for a graduates from the Adventure Guide Programs?

Many of our students have successfully found jobs in their chosen disciplines whether it be as a climbing guide, kayaking guide, Adventure cave guide, Zipline operator, program leader, operations manager or working for a heliski company! Some have gone on to be assistant instructors on programs like ours and others have used it to move on to further education options. You should check out our news page to view some of the testimonials from our alumni students.

What type of jobs are available for a graduates from the Expedition Leader Programs?

Work opportunities after the course range from working for adventure travel companies, leading educational groups in the developing world, tour guiding for overland tour operators, and over time working for expedition outfitters e.g. - World Expeditions. We provide you with advice and support on seeking work during and after your program! We assist you with meeting many of the pre-requisites for entry level expedition or adventure travel leadership roles e.g.- Personal trekking to 6000m, regional backpacking travel experience, participation in and leadership of service learning, participation in and management of extended duration fully supported treks. 

What we can't provide on a training course is experience managing or leading other groups (apart from peer leadership) and the personal attributes it takes to be a successful group leader - e.g. - building rapport with others, managing situations under pressure.

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