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. 


Tell me more...

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18th January 2019

Adventure Guide Program team bonding underway. So cool seeing people at the start of a 12 week journey, knowing so much awesomeness awaits them!

18th January 2019

We are very excited and proud to be annouced as one of the top 3 overall gap year providers for the 2018 @gooverseas Community Choice Awards! We work in an industry of amazing organisations that all work hard to provide young people with life changing experiences, so to be given a nod as one of the most exciting is really amazing for us. Thanks to you all! 🙏

18th January 2019

Dang, what an exceptionally attractive bunch of humans. Huge welcome to the new crew who have touched down in Queenstown for the summer edition of the Adventure Guide Program. Bring on the good times team!

13th January 2019

What are the 10 Best Gap Year destinations for 2019? Go Overseas give the low down on the new hotspots that need to be on your bucket list! https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/best-places-gap-year

12th January 2019

The pics don't lie, grins for days on the Pure Ex AGP!

10th January 2019

Want to know where in the world you could travel with Pure Exploration? Click here to see! https://bit.ly/2Faqhsm

7th January 2019

Yeaaaaah team 💪

6th January 2019

Whilst in Patagonia on our Adventure Guide Program, as well as hiking, climbing and sea kayaking, you'll also get the chance to experience rural Patagonian life, with a farm-stay at a working cattle ranch. South American Gauchos (the equivalent to US cowboys) are expert stock herders that move their cattle on horseback, and are animal experts and local legends. You’ll love this authentic mountain experience with locals! Find out more here https://bit.ly/2R9skDA

31st December 2018

Happy New Year!! What are you going to do this year that really excites you? It's time to push the boat out people!

28th December 2018

One of the highlights of the Adventure Guide Program is the week based in the legendary NZ adventure region, Mt Cook. Home of the highest mountain in the country, this area is synonomous with rock and ice climbing, hiking, mountaineering, ski touring and general outdoor bad-assness. Not for the faint-hearted, you need solid training and systems in place to explore this area, which is subject to strong winds, sub-zero temperatures, avalanches and rockfall. For those who have the right skills however, this place is adventure nirvana! Check out Ken's update on their time at Mt Cook here...https://bit.ly/2GBiR3d

24th December 2018

In New Zealand, Christmas and New Year's is all about Summer BBQ's, long afternoons by the lake or sea drinking cold beers and eating fresh seafood. It's roots reggae music, campfires, good friends and loads of laughs. Whatever Christmas looks like in your family, we hope its a good one ✨

22nd December 2018

Only a handful of places remain for our 2019 intake of the Expedition Leader Program. Central & South America - Southern China - Himalaya.... come join the crew! Find out more about this epic 3 month adventure here...https://bit.ly/2rFKn5d

20th December 2018

Ahhhh Christmas. We loves it. (Pic from the team at Climbing Porn)

17th December 2018

"Here's our team heading across a small alpine snow saddle after summiting Mt. Luxmore on our 2nd hike module. I snapped this photo just before heading over myself. We got whipped with 70Kmh winds on the summit. It was awesome! I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world." Check out more from Ken as the Adventure Guide Program crew hit the NZ Alps here...https://bit.ly/2PHym8Q

17th December 2018

This is Richard, he is our Program and Operations Manager. As well as being a slick operator who will ensure your time on program is amazing, he also is an extremely experienced Bungy jumper and yorkshire pudding expert 💪

11th December 2018

Ken's back! It's time for the Adventure Guide Program crew to get their boots on and experience the New Zealand back country. An unseasonal Spring snowfall added some drama to the week, but certainly made for some scenic hikes! Read more here https://bit.ly/2UyEkML

7th December 2018

Wondering if the Adventure Guide Program is for you? Let's ask someone who has been on the program, the Watford wanderer, London's finest son and newly found fan of NZ, Ethan.

5th December 2018

Nelson, on the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand, has crystal clear water, golden sand beaches, beautiful native bush and epic rock to climb. It's home to our June intakes of the Adventure Guide Program here. It's a dreamy as adventurers holiday destination, no matter the season!

2nd December 2018

On Saturday we said farewell to the two groups who have just completed their Adventure Guide Program assessments in NZ. Its been a big last few weeks and everyone has done so well getting through client days and assessment! We are so proud of you all and can't wait to hear what you all get up to next. Its been a busy but amazing 3 months having 30+ people in NZ travelling with us, we are looking forward to our own team debrief and discussing how to nail 2019! First, some Christmas bubbles to celebrate 🍾🥂

29th November 2018

We've loved having the amazing Keri Wingate as one of our inspiring guides for this intake of Adventure Guides in New Zealand. Here are some of her top picks of the last three months out in the wilderness with the team.

24th November 2018

The night sky in New Zealand is 🥇

18th November 2018

Springtime in New Zealand...?

18th November 2018

Rob Roy Glacier trek with some awesome clients. As the program comes to an end our teams are heading up half and full day treks and climbs with real clients from the Queenstown area. Putting all their guiding skills to the test.

17th November 2018

Over the last two weeks, our Adventure Guide groups have been learning all about swift water safety. How cold water affects your ability to move and react, how to understand moving rivers, identify safe zones and areas to avoid. And how to rescue people in dangerous situations. All great stuff to make you a more useful and confident outdoor hiker/swimmer/kayaker/friend!

15th November 2018

Guiding is easy when you have awesome clients!!