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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IF YOU ARE KEEN TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR ADVENTURE GUIDE INTERNSHIP, POP IN YOUR DETAILS BELOW AND WE WILL FIRE YOU THROUGH THE FULL ITINERARY!


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2019-10-18

EXCITING NEWS! Are you interested in our Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown, NZ but you've not been able to commit for financial or timing reasons? What if we told you that we now have a 6 WEEK ADVENTURE GUIDE PROGRAM AVAILABLE? This 6 week program offers rock and hiking adventures, plus participants will still get the opportunity to undertake their pre hospital emergency care (PHEC) and SWIFT water rescue training and qualifications! We're so happy to be able to offer this awesome condensed program to you all from January 2020, if you're interested in finding out more, flick us a message!

2019-09-24

If you're interested in our Adventure Guide Program (AGP) in Queenstown, let us introduce you to "PHEC". Pre Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC) is an intense five day, crucial part of the AGP which trains participants to deal with a myriad of emergency situations. Please note the photos are not real life and are the result of great acting skills in order to recreate real life scenarios. If you'd like more information about the Adventure Guide Program or PHEC, feel free to reach out. Thank you to Peak Safety Ltd for your ongoing support!

2019-09-19

Check out the video below to hear Program Leader Keri share her experiences from the Expedition Leader Program with us. The three month immersive program wrapped at the end of August and we were lucky enough to steal 4 minutes of Keri's time to get a sweet snapshot of what the 90 days in Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, China, Laos, Thailand and Nepal was really like!

2019-09-16

We loved having our Adventure Guide Program participants volunteer with the Wakatipu Restoration Trust last week on some important projects in Arrowtown! Thank you for having us, and we're looking to joining you again next time 😀

2019-09-12

Goodbyes have been said, reunions have been made, photos have been uploaded and time has been spent reflecting. We are thrilled to hear how much our Expedition Leader Program crew enjoyed their 12 week experience and we're so proud of what each individual achieved! We wanted to share with you one last blog from program participant Chloe, summarising the key things she has taken away from the Expedition Leader Program. Whatever you're doing in your life, we feel as though it's an important and powerful read. Enjoy, and feel free to check out the teams awesome photos in our recent album we've uploaded. We're warning you now - every photo is envy worthy!

2019-09-08

EXCITING NEWS!!!! Pure Exploration are SO excited to share our latest offering for our 2020 Adventure Guide Programs - CANYONING! Keen to sign up for one of our 12 week programs, but don't think that rock climbing is really for you? No drama! The canyoning option is now available for you to do instead of the rock climbing strand, enabling you to spend time in the water (splashing around, slipping and sliding between canyons) as well as your hiking, pre hospital emergency care and swift water rescue training. We are offering the NZOIA Canyon Leader qualification alongside the NZOIA Bush you'll also undertake over the 12 weeks. Panicking that we've dropped rock climbing? Don't be, we're still offering the rock module (which proves to be increasingly popular), we're just introducing canyoning as a further option! If you're keen to hear more just flick us a message!

2019-08-28

What is this PHEC you might hear us mentioning from time to time? PHEC stands for Pre Hospital Emergency Care, and there's a reason we keep banging on about it - if you're heading out to the back country it's vital knowledge to have. You could save a life. Regardless of whether you're heading out bush, there's actually never a bad time to undertake Pre Hospital Emergency Care and that's why we incorporate it in each of our Queenstown Adventure Guide programs. Our Patagonia Adventure Guide Program and Expedition Leader Program also feature a wilderness first aid qualification. Check out this article to find out more about PHEC and how it teaches you the skills needed to become an asset in an emergency.

2019-08-27

For those of you who are interested in our Adventure Guide Program as you'd like to get your foot in the tourism industry, look no further. Dana, an alumni from our Adventure Guide Program in 2017, was kind enough to give us a life update at the end of last year. Since graduating from the AGP the wonderful Dana has been a Director of Operations, Lead Guide and a Naturalist in the US. We'll be checking in with her shortly for another life update. Until then, have a read and join us in celebrating the successes of Dana!

2019-08-22

The Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown was always a tough one to name. The word adventure summons up thoughts of gripping journeys discovering untouched lands, undertaking challenges that your dreams haven’t even dared explore and of course, an envy worthy Instagram feed. But of course, it's so much more than that! So, in reality, what is the Adventure Guide Program? What should participants expect from it? Check out our latest blog on our website for the "6 things you should know about the Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown, NZ".

2019-08-15

Is #throwbackthursday still a thing? We're not sure, but if not, we're bringing it back! As our Adventure Guide Programs are kicking off for Spring and Summer 2019 it seemed an appropriate time to share Deni Zawalski's awesome Queenstown AGP video with you all. What's more, talk about a success story, Deni now works for Southern Lakes Heliski right here in Queenstown. Yup, she's living the sweet life long after graduating from the program! For those of you who are wondering what life could look like after the three months on program, flick us a message. We have heaps of awesome stories about alumni who have gone on to work in the industry here in Queenstown, and we would take pleasure sharing their successes with you. Thanks for letting us share Deni!

2019-08-14

We were curious to find out why some of our participants chose to join us on our Expedition Leader Program earlier this year. Chloe shares her reasons with us, maybe they're something that you can relate to as well!

2019-08-13

A huge welcome to our 11 incredible participants who have joined us from all around the world for our Adventure Guide Program here in Queenstown NZ! We're excited to show you our home, watch you grow and share in your successes over the next 12 weeks! Oh, and they're eager too - check out the evidence captured of their lake swim in the depths of winter ❄🏊‍♀️ we love the enthusiasm - brr!

2019-08-11

Things you learn when you travel the world 101. "Outgrowing people, jobs, places and situations is okay. You should not feel any shame or guilt for leaving toxicity, old patterns, or boredom behind to pursue your own journey to happiness." Check out the blog below to hear more Ah Ha! moments our Expedition Leader Program participants have identified on their travels so far.

2019-08-08

Interested in our 12 week Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia but feel a little freaked out at the thought of reaching out for more information? We get it. That's why we teamed up with the guys at GoAbroad.com to write an article all about Patagonia, hoping that it gives you an idea as to what you can expect from this sparsely populated, jaw-droppingly beautiful region which is home to some of the world's best hiking trails and rock to climb! Keen to hear more? No drama, flick us a message and we'll sort you out with some more enticing information about the program. Just don't blame us when you've canned the job and booked your flights for our November intake! 😆👌

2019-07-25

"Growth, vulnerability, pushing limits, authenticity, connections. These all come with being on the ELP team. When I signed up for this trip, I knew it would be a life changing experience in a ton of ways, but somehow, after only 1 month, we have all changed beyond expectations in more than one way." Please check out another one of Chloe's incredible, gripping blogs to find out more about how travel and adventure, plus everything that comes along with it, furthers ourselves in our own personal development journey.

2019-07-22

Ecuador, Galapagos, Ecuador and ...China?! What were both the expectations and the reality of China on our Expedition Leader Program.

2019-07-19

Last week our 2017 AGP Alumni and favourite German, Michel Affkerback, left NZ after almost 2 years with us here in Queenstown. Michel has been accepted into the Arctic Nature Guide program at the University of Norway to further his guiding career even more. It was an absolute pleasure to have Michel around, and to see his gnarly climbing, hiking and ski touring missions whilst he was in NZ. We miss you already Michel, and cant wait to hear all about your next adventures!

2019-07-18

Meet Katherine! She is an alumni from our Adventure Guide Program having completed it in early 2019. Katherine explains what she learnt on the AGP and the skills she now feels equipped with in life. Katherine has also made her home in Queenstown, New Zealand since graduating. Curious as to what you can get out of the Program even if you're not looking to become an Adventure Guide? Check out the video below, or shoot on over to our Instagram for further thoughts from Pure Ex alumni!