Alumni update: One year on from the NZ Adventure Guide Program

Dana Ester was one of the inspiring students that joined us in 2017 for our Adventure Guide Program based in New Zealand. People come on our programs for a range of reasons - some as a break from study to spend time focusing on themselves, some to simply fill their lungs with fresh air for a few months, some hoping to begin a lifetime career in the outdoors.  From the start Dana knew she wanted to work in the outdoors, and was looking for the framework and confidence to set off on her own journey. We loved having her with us over her three months in NZ, so it was really cool to see an update pop up in the inbox sharing where she is now. Check it out!

 

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A year ago I made a bit of a reckless decision- I threw all my eggs in one basket and hopped on the next flight out to join the AGP team in Queenstown. Born and raised in the flats of Florida, I was bouncing my way around the mountains of California and Alaska looking for a way to translate my love for all these majestic peaks into a way to pay the bills. The ensuing adventure in New Zealand made it quickly clear I made the right decision, and the three months our crew spent gallivanting around the South Island were some of the best I'd ever had. We learned all the hardest skills, mastered technicalities, and trekked through some of New Zealand's most breathtaking sceneries. By the end of the program I was full of experiences that had pushed me to grow outside my comfort zone, dreams of working multi-week expeditions in exotic locations around the world, and an eagerness to get back into the wilderness as soon as I could.

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I went back to the U.S. right after the program ended, thinking I would be returning to a coveted position on a ski patrol team in California, but ended up stuck in Florida when winter decided not to visit the Sierra Nevada Range that year. My guide training down under prepared me for the possibility of unfavorable weather patterns and the effects of climate change, and this is definitely an industry where your season and employment can be greatly affected by shifts in weather. Coming out of the AGP though, I felt like I'd overcome so many obstacles that I was ready for anything, and I jumped right into finding a position as Director of Operations and Lead Guide for a start up paddle company. Right in my own backyard, I was immediately applying my new guiding skills as I led trips around Florida's rivers and Atlantic Coast.

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Not ready to be in one place for too long, I left Florida again at the beginning of the summer, jumping on an opportunity to lead a six-week expedition across the Pacific Northwest. This was my first chance at leading multi-week expeditions, only months after Pure Exploration’s program showed me that this kind of work was even available to me, and I honestly still can’t believe I found work in this industry so quickly after completing the AGP. My team was responsible for twenty 14-year-old girls backpacking around the rainforests, volcanoes, and rocky coastline of Oregon and Washington. We camped, climbed, and rafted the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Range, having the time of our lives. As that season ended, I've moved into a job as a naturalist in California working with school groups on wilderness field trips.

 

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Both jobs have been transformative for my career as a guide and it's amazing how the AGP really prepared me for these positions. Not that I ever doubted Zach and the gang as they threw us into snow-melt fed rivers or up a high wall, but we got such an honest education in Queenstown- and I had experience as a true guide that I was able to bring with me as I started off on my first time as a multi-week trip leader. I actually use the exact same format now to learn about native California flora and fauna as I did when I was studying native New Zealand ecology before the NZOIA assessment. It's so incredible seeing how well prepared I've been for these dream jobs, work I didn't know was possible and now I'm out here living a life that hasn't been the same since I started my AGP last year. I literally don't know where I would be right now, if it weren't for Zach and the gang down under, and I can’t wait to see the amazing opportunities that are sure to present themselves to me as I progress deeper into this industry, and this wild side of life.

 

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I'm not sure if you can tell yet Dana, but we are pretty proud of you. You really are exactly where you hoped you'd be. Your hard work and enthusiasm has paid off! One year on its a fantastic success story and we hope these updates keep rolling in from you every year with more and more exciting stories :) 

If heading on a similar career path to Dana sounds like something that seriously turns your wheels, then get in touch! We work hard to ensure our programs are authentic, challenging, transformative experiences that you will never forget. And if you are keen to join the adventure tourism industry, we have the training, skills and connections to kick it all off. 


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22nd July 2019

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

19th July 2019

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!

18th July 2019

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!

15th July 2019

Who wants to hear more about our ELP's experience on the Asangate trek in Peru? We do! 🙋‍♂️ "54 km, 5 days, 3 course meals, spectacular views, alpacas for days, chilly nights, and very dry hot days. This is what the Ausangate trek is all about." ... Link's below, you know what to do!

8th July 2019

"PERU 🇵🇪A definite fav country of mine... we have just completed a volunteer project in the Cusco area helping regenerate native vegetation and then the Ausangate trek, a bitter / sweet reality of climate change. The melting of ice has allowed a trekking route through this volcanic landscape which has to be one of the best 5 day walks I’ve done. Expedition Leader Progamme #pureexploration" - repost from Keri Wingnut, one of our amazing Expedition Leaders for our current ELP.

30th June 2019

"We think real travel isn’t just about box-ticking guidebook recommendations or Instagram shots, it’s about authentic experiences spent with new friends who inspire you to think about the world and yourself in new ways."

26th June 2019

So we know the photos from our ELP look amazing, but we're sure you're keen to hear what daily life on the program is really like, right? Luckily for you our team on the ground are keeping busy writing us regular updates and it's our absolute pleasure to be able to share them with you. Enjoy!

24th June 2019

People say the views are always worth the climb here in New Zealand. But at Pure Exploration we think the climb itself is pretty special, the views are just an added bonus. Do you agree? Join us for some pretty phenomenal climbs, views and plenty more this November in Patagonia, we promise it'll be an experience like no other.

20th June 2019

Latest blog from our Expedition Leader Program is now live! Our amazing group (currently in the Galapagos) will be posting every week whilst on the program, and they're doing an incredible job of keeping us updated with their news. The latest blog is specifically about the community project they've recently been involved in - prepare to be truly inspired!

19th June 2019

Squad goals. Our Expedition Leader Program is in full swing as our group swaps rivers for oceans in the Galapagos Islands. We're stoked to see they've mastered the art of the ultimate human pyramid. (Note the helmet on the left - health and safety at its finest). Don't forget to follow us on instagram: @pureexploration to follow their journey.

18th June 2019

Warning: there will be an influx of photos and videos over the next couple of months which may result in you quitting your job and joining us for our next Expedition Leader Program.

11th June 2019

And they're off!! Over the next 12 weeks the students on our Expedition Leader program will be sharing their incredible journey with us..Check out blog #1 written by Chloe from Canada - filling us in on arriving into Ecuador and how things went for orientation week 🔥 https://www.pureexploration.nz/about/news/week-one-orientation-expedition-leader-program/

8th June 2019

Day one of the Expedition Leader program 💥 Instructors Keri & Jess are taking the team through orientation to set everyone up mentally for the next three months of travel and experiential education. The crew range from 18-34yo, hailing from Aus, Canada, the US and Hungary 🙌 📷: Jessica Thomas

5th June 2019

Pure Exploration Instructors Keri & Jess have arrived in Quito, Ecuador - ready to welcome the crew to the start of the Expedition Leader Program in a couple of days..The new students will be learning about adventure travel management, group leadership, logistics, expedition style travel in developing regions, along with trekking in some of the world’s most famous and spectacular mountainous and remote regions. Have the best time guys, we can't wait for updates! 🔥 #expeditionleaderprogram #ELP #Pureexploration

18th April 2019

This exceptional bunch of humans have finished up their time with us on the Adventure Guide Program in NZ. Its been so fun having them join us, alongside their awesome instructor Rosey. Keep in touch guys! 😘

8th April 2019

This is Torres del Paine. No explanation required really. So rad. Is Patagonia on your bucket list yet? Go on... https://bit.ly/2IcDTEb

6th April 2019

Our adventure programs take you to some amazing places around the world. The pic is the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Southern China. If you're a hiker, you need to get here. Learn more about where we travel here https://bit.ly/2I0bmmd

4th April 2019

These guys are busy with their NZOIA assessments this week, the final step in our program to putting all the pieces together as far as skills and experiences go. Go team!

25th March 2019

Time to meet the team! This is John. He is one of our Program Instructors, currently leading a group completing the Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown, New Zealand. John grew up enjoying the outdoors of Florida. Having joined the military when he turned 18, he soon began traveling and seeing the world, thus instilling in him a passion for travel. In the military as a JTAC, he was responsible for directing the action of combat aircraft. He received training not only in his core job skills but also navigation, survival, and bushcraft. After the military, he moved to Bend, Oregon to pursue his helicopter pilots license. Climbing in the countless places available to him in Central Oregon, he soon developed a passion for the sport as well as a deeper appreciation for the outdoors. John is a legend with a heart of gold, and an even bigger appetite - for food and for the outdoors! It's awesome having him on our team

24th March 2019

Enjoying the long warm days of Autumn in New Zealand with a week in the glorious surrounds of Mt Cook National Park.

20th March 2019

Adventure Guide Program crew meeting some key adventure tourism industry employers from around New Zealand tonight at our networking event. It's so great to be able to make these connections and get CVs straight into the key recruiters hands.

19th March 2019

Step away from the desk job and join us for a few months of outdoor fun. Go on...

17th March 2019

Orientation week in New Zealand is a chance to settle in, get to know your new team mates and explore this new land which will become home for the next 12 weeks.

14th March 2019

What types of people come on our programs? People from all over the globe join us for adventure travel missions. Generally we see people who are between 19 - 32 years old - taking a break before college, taking a break for getting into the workplace, taking a break from their work desk! It's all about immersing yourself in the outdoors, forgetting the pressures of everyday and enjoying feeling fit, healthy and renews by visiting new places. Join the crew!