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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2019-11-13

Living in Queenstown and keen to experience some of the best climbing and hiking that New Zealand has to offer? Do you have a spare day over the next couple of weeks and want to come join us on an epic day mission? Flick us through a message to instructors@pureexploration.com! See info attached 😆🤙

2019-10-24

We love that our program participants join us from all different walks of life (no punn intended), and really enjoy hearing about the experiences that have been had - both mental and physical - on program! It's our pleasure to share Liz's story with you all, her journey from a "complete beginner" at climbing, to the end goal of being an NZOIA qualified climbing guide! Thank you for the inspiration, Liz Lucas Coaching!

2019-10-21

"I heard the captain announce our approach into Queenstown, into this place I had only dreamt of. I looked out the window and there she was, the glorious island that is New Zealand, at the opposite end of the world to where I am from and I just thought to myself "Bring it on baby"" Hear more about Cathal's journey as he participates on the Adventure Guide Program via the link below. It's absolutely worth a read, every word is dripping in his Irish charm and you can't help but smile as you digest his story!

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 Reforestation 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.