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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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!

12th March 2019

A good spot for reflection (and a cup of tea) after a big week exploring the New Zealand back country.

10th March 2019

It's time to get the hiking backpack out of the cupboard and buy a ticket abroad. Go on....

8th March 2019

Our adventure travel programs are all about living life to the full, getting away from your work desk, putting down that phone and refreshing your soul. Fresh air, fascinating cultures, like minded mates, learning new skills. Join the crew and take some time to focus on you!

8th March 2019

When your thousands of kms from home, if you're lucky, you'll find another kind of oddball/amazing family to call your own.

7th March 2019

Happy #internationalwomensday ! Women lead the way in so many ways. We are proud to offer young women from around the world the chance to gain confidence in themselves and their skills. Bring on the future!

6th March 2019

Views for days

5th March 2019

New kiwi maaaaaaaaates... 🐑🐑🐑

5th March 2019

A huge welcome to the newest crew to join us for an Adventure Guide Program. Enjoy your awesome Orientation Week, then it's business time!

3rd March 2019

Outdoor climbing is a bit scary and can take you a bit to get your head around. But like anything else that pushes you out of your comfort zone, the elation felt with nailing it is unreal! Would you be game to hang from a 20 metre rock face?

1st March 2019

From ultra-light bivvy bags, moisture wicking tops and merino bottoms, to polarized sunglasses, flint firelighters and seam-sealed jackets ... gear nerds are our kinds of people.

1st March 2019

Hailing from: The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden, USA, Australia, Greece, Poland and Canada!!! Introducing the March Adventure guide crew on their first day in Queenstown 🙌 Welcome team we are so stoked to have you here!

26th February 2019

We love seeing the pics roll in from our Adventure Guide Programs. Good times speak for themselves, don't they!

13th February 2019

Nor'west skies are red, Guide ropes are blue, Coffee brewed over campfire black Means a great day ahead its true... Happy V day team, hope its filled with things that put a smile on your dial! 🥰

11th February 2019

The next great crew of explorers hit the kiwi shores and begin their adventures. Welcome team! 🤴👸

10th February 2019

Sunday lake hangs to combat the steamy NZ summer

9th February 2019

Some of the cute locals you'll meet when on our Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia! Find out more about this program here.. https://bit.ly/2DlIb8i

7th February 2019

When you think of New Zealand, do you think of spectacular mile high mountains with cascading waterfalls, deep ancient rainforests filled with stunning native birdsong and wild deer? You're right, you know. We go here on our NZ Adventure Guide Program. It's pretty rad, to say the least.