Adventure Guide Intern Update - Assessments, Graduation, & Work Placement

The final update from Kaylee, one of our adventure guide interns based in Queenstown.

 

NZOIA ASSESSMENTS 

After having prepared in every way we could think necessary – practicing every knot a hundred times, quizzing each other on plant names and uses, planning sessions – we had the last three months put to the test. Over four days, we were assessed by a lovely guide from the New Zealand Outdoor Instructor Association in the hopes of achieving our Rock, Abseil, and Bush Leader qualifications. Rock and Abseil came first, with our personal skills assessed on day one and our group management evaluated the second day. Bush followed the same format over days three and four.

I have always over-prepared for exams and assessments in the past, so I treated my NZOIA assessment the same. I set up top rope and abseil systems over and over again, watched videos to see how other guides teach belay technique, ran through the steps of personal safety in my head constantly. I tried to plan our group day as much as possible to avoid any unforeseen missteps that could cost us. In the end, all of my planning paid off, but was also a bit of overkill.

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The nerves dissipated as we worked our way through each skill on the first day of rock, with each of us feeling more and more confident as we received satisfactory marks. Our assessment location was changed the morning of, so we were a bit nervous about setting up our systems and maintaining our personal safety at a crag we hadn’t climbed at in two months. We were reminded of something very important in this change of events: it doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with, the systems are the same, the safety is the same, and we’ve been trained to do things correctly and will do them correctly so long as we follow the steps we’ve been practicing.

The group rock climbing lessons session had everyone excited and a bit anxious, as none of us had ever acted as lead climbing guide before, only under another guide during our work experience with Climbing Queenstown. We planned the day as best we could, expecting to work our groups of two through four climbs on top rope and one long abseil like clock-work. I delivered the welcome briefing, we split the group into two’s and grabbed a pair each, and set to work getting our brave volunteers fit with harnesses, shoes, and helmets before bringing them over to the crag. We had arrived an hour or so before the clients to set up our ropes, so we jumped right into belay instruction, safe climbing technique, and getting the clients stoked for a great day of cragging in Wanaka.

We had two NZOIA assessors watching nearly everything we did with our clients, making notes, ticking boxes, and ensuring we kept everyone safe and happy. Aside from one of my clients getting a bit spooked by the heights, we all cruised through the day and the assessment with hardly any hiccups.

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The Bush personal skill assessment felt much more relaxed after having received passing marks in Rock and Abseil, so we took a collective deep breath and eased back into our normal, goofy selves. We were evaluated on our ability to determine distance and timing for various legs of the Lower Routeburn Track, on giving six-figure grid references for our locations once we arrived at the leader’s stopping point, on shelter building, plant identification, other aspects of navigation, and general knowledge of the area.

Our client day ran a bit differently from the rock and abseil, as each of us took turns guiding the full group while the others kept in the back behind the clients. We each acted as lead guide for a minimum of an hour, exercising our group management skills, providing interpretation, chatting to clients, and answering questions. Aside from the massive amount of rain that fell throughout the day, we again had a quite cruisy day that ended with hot cups of tea on the bus back to Queenstown and very happy clients (and guides).

We were each given numerical values for the many skills and required tasks of the NZOIA qualifications, with a 3 meriting a pass, 4 meaning we’d done something a bit better than expected, and 5 demonstrating excellence. For me personally, it was nice to have a quantifiable evaluation of what I’d learned over the past three months and what I was now able to do.

By the end of the four days, we were absolutely exhausted mentally and physically. I had set an alarm on my watch for 5:30 pm, to alert us when it was TIME TO PARTY, but by the time it rolled around half of us were asleep in the lounge.

 

GRADUATION 

As our final group activity, our program director gave us an address in town, a time to arrive, and sent us on our way. I was beyond stoked when we arrived at Queenstown’s Escape Room and could hardly contain myself when they gave us Victorian-era hats and scarves to help get us into a Sherlock Holmes-esque mindset. The five of us were quite spastic trying to place each clue, and although we escaped with one minute to spare and solved the murder mystery, we needed lots of help from the eye in the sky that regularly gave us hints.

“The answer is 9! Try 9!”

(BEEP)

Clue on the screen – “The answer is not 9.”

Pizza at Winnie’s and some drinks finished off an awesome graduation night. The following day we received our certificates of completion of the Pure Exploration program and our Swift Water Rescue & Pre Hospital Emergency Care certificates. Just like that, we were finished! Ready to join the world of outdoor guides! (gulp)

 

WORK PLACEMENT

Life post program meant different things for all of us. One member of the crew had a job lined up for the (Northern Hemisphere) winter, so she cruised home a few days after graduation. Another was jonesin’ to get back on the road and explore the South Island a bit more, so he bought a van and set off on an epic road trip. 

The rest of us are working in Queenstown. One guy had scored a job at Ziptrek, the ziplining company in Queenstown, and had been working there for a couple of weeks by the time we finished our assessments. His training coincided with our schedule, so he was unable to sit his NZOIA exams, but he has since worked in the trees for over a month now and will go for his qualifications in a few months. The last is working for Serious Fun Riverboarding managing the shop and the company’s day-to-day.

I’ve been super lucky to split my time between Pure Exploration as a program advisor and doing some administration work with guiding for Climbing Queenstown. A typical day for me starts with a morning of helping people from around the world get down to New Zealand on one of our adventure education programs (hopefully this is you!) and ends with an afternoon of guiding rock climbing in Sunshine Bay. Sometimes it can get a bit hectic, but I am super passionate about both opportunities I’ve been given and love both companies so much. 

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2020-07-07

Our Outdoor Instructor Training & Industry Experience is the true zero to hero program, for those with the determination, drive and aptitude to explore, grow and succeed! It is an accelerated, practical immersion program, which offers a unique pathway from training to employment in the outdoor industry. It offers an unparalleled combination of training, qualifications and mentored transition from practitioner, to leader, and then to instructor, with quality industry experience. Pure Exploration Director, Zach Johnston, gives us the inside scoop on the Outdoor Instructor Program! Watch to find out more...

2020-06-08

Such a great day and milestone for New Zealand, our home. An early and tough lockdown meant we now have zero cases and life from midnight tonight is set to look almost normal! We look forward to welcoming you into our bubble soon, as other countries begin their own recovery. 🎉🎉

2020-04-16

We're excited to announce that our Outdoor Essentials online program is now underway! Thanks for all of the support so far, we're pretty pumped to get back in the classroom even if that means indoors! If you're interested in one of our courses, talk to us today! We'd love to hear from you. https://www.pureexploration.nz/online-adventure-training-programs/

2020-04-09

Start preparing for the good times ahead with our Online Adventure Training Programs! Study in your own time with one of our 4 - 8 week programs taught by NZOIA qualified Hiking and Rock Climbing Instructors. Program Topics; 1. Outdoor Essentials 2. Global Citizenship 3. Mindset & Resilience 4. Jungle & Altitude #stayhome but #staylearning and lock in your core skills today! Visit our website for more details: https://www.pureexploration.nz/online-adventure-training-programs/

2020-04-06

2021 ASPIRING OUTDOOR LEADER SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS HAVE NOW CLOSED!⠀ Our team is going to have a hard time choosing a winner among all the amazing applicants!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But if you missed the deadline no need to worry because we’ve got you covered with some sweet early bird deals for our 2021 programs! Or if you are craving adventure right now, sign up for one of our BRAND NEW ONLINE PROGRAMS. See our website for details.

2020-02-23

Caroline McQuistan has touched down in New Zealand for the Adventure Guide Progam based in Queenstown. Over the next few weeks we will follow the crew with Caroline's updates as they begin their technical climbing and hiking modules and explore our beautiful corner of the world! Learn more about this program here https://hubs.ly/H0n7k1C0

2020-02-21

It's officially the end of an era as we say goodbye to our Sales Account Manager and original member of the Pure Exploration team, Kerie Stewart. Kerie has been a part of the Pure Ex fam since day one, joining the team in the pursuit of setting up a company which was committed to teaching eager participants the skills required to become successful Adventure Guide's here in Queenstown, NZ whilst undertaking some epic missions along the way! Kerie, we'll all miss you immensely but we're looking forward to catching you up the mountain or by the lake for a drink. We're sure our pool of graduates will join us in wishing you the best of luck with your future ventures and thank you for everything you've done to make Pure Exploration the place it is today!

2020-02-14

We are proud to work alongside the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust and are thrilled that our students get to work alongside, and learn from, their deeply passionate and driven team! This excellent charity is committed to helping grow and plant native species within the Wakatipu Basin and would hugely benefit from receiving funding from 2020 Crux/The Hills Charity Gold Day. If you have a spare few minutes please take the time to click on the below and place your vote. 🌲🌲🌲

2020-02-01

We think the biggest benefit of travel is the feeling of reinvigoration and inspiration you feel from surrounding yourself with new things. Shake away the dust, move those limbs, challenge the mind. Our Adventure Guide Programs are an epic way for people to get a foot in the door to a hiking or climbing guiding career, or the perfect option for those looking for a comprehensive course that helps them gain 100% confidence to navigate, hike, climb, guide and survive in the outdoors. This year our scholarships will offer deserving people the chance to join us on one of our Adventure Guide Program intakes in 2021, based in New Zealand and Patagonia. With more than NZ$200,000 in financial aid available, we are super excited to get some motivated and deserving individuals on our programs that are keen to grab this chance to challenge themselves and grow their leadership skills. We are offering one full scholarship worth NZ$13,975 to a deserving individual who embodies the enthusiasm we have for exploring the outdoors, who demonstrates leadership among their peers, and someone understands the importance of looking after our environment as we enter a new decade with heightened ecological challenges. We will also be offering several Partial Scholarships to people who are keen followers of our story. They will be outdoor lovers who are keen to use hiking and climbing as a way to challenge themselves, who understand the impact experiential travel can have in positive change. Applications close 31st March 2020, so don’t miss out! Learn more here: https://hubs.ly/H0mRsmK0

2020-01-23

6 weeks climbing in Thailand? Sign me up! Spend this June and July gaining epic new skills, getting qualified as a climbing guide, keeping fit and exploring paradise... does it get any better?

2020-01-20

Following on from the success of the Expedition Leader Program we asked one of our keen and incredible alumni, Chloe, to share her stories and give you guys some further insight into what this three month program (which explores Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, China, Thailand, Laos and Nepal) is like in reality! It's a windy day in Canada, so apologies for the background noise, but every word Chloe spoke came across so authentically that we thought it didn't need redoing, it was perfect as it was! Thank you for your ongoing support Chloe, we love following your adventures - you guys can follow her too on Instagram; 📷 @chloslife2go

2020-01-17

Welcome to our January Adventure Guide Program team! Hailing from all around the world we have an awesome bunch joining us from the UK, France, America, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Chile, Ireland and Canada as they hike, climb and canyon around some of the most dramatic and beautiful terrain the South Island has to offer! Keep checking back here and make sure you're following our Instagram account @pureexplorationnz to hear about their latest adventures live from Queenstown, NZ!! 🤙

2020-01-13

Did you know we have an Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, in the deep south of Argentina? Our first ever program in this region kicked off in November last year, with another one scheduled to embark on their journey of adventure in only a few weeks. Andrea, from Canada, took some time out to share a blog she's written on what every day life is like on program based out of El Chalten, the expectations she had, discoveries they've made and the skills she's learnt and sharpened along the way. If you're curious as to what the heck you actually do on a Pure Exploration Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, this could very well be what you're looking for.

2020-01-10

The new year (and new decade!) symbolises new beginnings. As our Queenstown programs wrapped up at the end of last year and our graduates are now contemplating their 'next steps', whilst still processing their journey of development, we thought it would be the perfect time to share the below. Liz, who graduated from our Adventure Guide Program in December, reflects on her 12 weeks spent on the program and the learning's that have unfolded, the memories she's made and the lessons that will remain. And what's next for Liz? She's landed herself a job working for our sister company, Pacific Discovery, as a Program Instructor for 10 weeks. Liz will be joining the pool of Pure Exploration Graduates who have gone on to lead overseas programs and we couldn't be any more thrilled for her!

2020-01-08

Australia is in a state of emergency as they are currently experiencing one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history, as rampant bush fires spread fiercely throughout parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. We are truly in awe of the strength our Australian neighbours have shown over the last few months as they have demonstrated true resilience and perseverance as they battle the flames. The Australian Fire Service and those voluntarily joining the firefighting efforts have shown bravery in its purest form, they are truly inspiring and deserve tremendous recognition for their efforts. Amongst the news of devastation, losses and heartbreak there are powerful and positive stories of love, community, generosity and hope, which are touching the hearts of many all around the world. We aren’t discounting the sadness of the bush-fires that Australia is experiencing, but we thought we’d use our social platforms to share some of the positive news stories that are being shared that are sometimes overlooked in the media. - Australia has received support from all around the world as firefighters, military support and even teams of wildlife specialists have flocked to assist with the crisis. New Zealand sent firefighters, military and helicopters to support the Australian Defence Force. The US deployed a team of 100 firefighters, with a further 200 volunteer firefighters joining the efforts from the US and Canada. Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Fiji have also offered military support, with Vanuatu pledging $250,000AUD to assist the Rural Fire Service. - Members of the public have been donating money from all around the world to help the Australian bush-fire crisis. Comedian Celeste Barber set up a fundraiser that to date has raised $47 million AUD for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades. Phenomenal amounts of money have been donated by the masses all around the world. - Animal Rescue Collective has been inundated with offers to make bat wraps, koala mittens and animal beds from keen crafters for wildlife rescue centres. - Emergency accommodation has been provided by residents all around Australia, with strangers opening their homes to families who have found themselves homeless in the wake of fires. New organisation Find A Bed Australia received offers of accommodation from more than 3000 people in only four days. - There has also been a remarkable amount of financial donations from Australian businesses, and celebrities from all around the world. This list could go on and on with heart warming stories that we've heard, and no doubt there are many, many more. Australia, our thoughts and prayers are with you, and it would seem the whole world are behind you too. 🌍💕🙏 If you'd like to donate and provide financial support during this crisis here are some organisations and fundraisers that may help. Australian Red Cross, GIVIT - Goods For Good Causes, The Salvation Army Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services - QFES, CFA (Country Fire Authority)

2019-12-25

And just like that... it was Christmas 2019! To all our Pure Exploration family, friends, followers, supporters and everyone else - we wish you an awesome festive break full of adventure, exploration and good times! 🎅🤶🎄⭐✈

2019-12-20

A massive congratulations to "Team Kevin", who were our final Adventure Guide Program intake for 2020. We're so incredibly proud of you guys; you tackled everything we threw at you, smashed through your assessments and had some pretty incredible banter 😆 We loved watching you grow into a close, loving family over the 12 weeks. Good luck with everything, we're looking forward to following your future adventures!

2019-12-19

As you may already know, our first ever Patagonia Adventure Guide Program is in month two of three, with ten awesome humans on the ground in Argentina as they hike and climb the incredible terrain the region has to offer. It's always a nail biting time as we want to make sure the team is having the best experience possible in this new Pure Ex territory. Therefore we were truly stoked to have the below feedback in our inbox this morning 😍 "I can genuinely say that the program has exceeded my expectations so far! El Chalten is an amazing village where hiking and climbing is easily accessible. The group setting is pretty sweet too... i definitely enjoy cooking and sharing meals with the gang every night! I am excited to celebrate christmas with this new family :) Rosey is an amazing instructor... She is very laid back but still so organized and efficient!!! I really enjoy that she takes her role to heart... she is always around and available for any questions we might have. She also has so much valuable insight for the development of both hard and soft skills... I see her as a inspiring role model and mentor for this great new career change! I am very grateful that i get the chance to live this adventure abroad with Pure Exploration. I really feel like I am living an authentic Patagonian experience and getting the most i can from the area. I am excited to use this program as a launch pad for travelling and working abroad!" We get the warm and fuzzies whenever we get feedback about the program, and especially when it's about our awesome instructors who are out in the field leading. Thanks Andrea, we're pumped to hear you're having a great time and we're super grateful for the update! 🙏😊🗻🧗‍♀️ P.s This is Andrea jumping off an iceberg by the Huemul Trek. Pretty sweet eh 🤙

2019-12-11

New program announcement! Introducing our brand new 33 day Service Learning Leadership Program, kicking off in Cambodia this July! Are you interested in learning how you can maximise the impact you have when volunteering in developing countries? Would you like to become a valuable contributor and not just a volunteer tourist? Do you want to genuinely learn about communities and then apply best practices so you can most effectively create positive change? This program will introduce you to the tools needed to succeed in the service learning space. We're excited to share this program with you, as it's something we're deeply passionate about. If you'd like further information please visit the website link below, or flick us a message! https://www.pureexploration.nz/service-learning-leadership-program/

2019-12-09

Did you know we have a 6 week Adventure Guide Program for those of you who are unable to sign up for a full 12 week program? Kicking off on 17th January 2020, we still have a few spaces left for those looking to immerse themselves in hiking, climbing, exploring and frankly, solid good times 👌 Plus you'll walk away with your Pre Hospital Emergency Care and SWIFT water rescue training and certification! Check out the link below for more info 😆 https://www.pureexploration.nz/adventure-guide-programs/adventure-guide-6week/