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Adventure Guide Program - Nelson, NZ

Outdoor Guide Training & Industry experience


12 Weeks


New Zealand


If this part of New Zealand isn't well known to you, be prepared to be blown away. Famous for being the area that receives the most sunshine in NZ, Nelson is an oasis of golden beaches, fruit orchards, craft beer brewing and relaxed locals. Combined with the country's top climbing areas and breathtaking mountains, Nelson is hard to beat, particularly if you are a warm-weather person!

From technical skills to emergency safety and group dynamics, this comprehensive course will give you 100% confidence to navigate, hike, climb and guide in the outdoors.


8 Sep - 30 Nov


17 Jan - 11 April


7 Sep - 30 Nov


13 Jan - 7 Apr

This 12 week program in Nelson is broken down into different key areas that focus on building your repertoire of skills and experience. Your time will be split between intensive practical and theoretical training, gaining world-recognised guiding qualifications, plus industry experience in the adventure tourism industry. All this will give you the best entry into the outdoor industry possible, or simply an advanced skill set for becoming a more confident outdoor adventurer.


This program gains participants the following guiding qualifications:

  • NZOIA Bush Leader
  • NZOIA Rock Leader

You'll also get:

  • Pre-hospital Emergency Care Qualification (PHEC)
  • Swift Water Rescue Safety Level 1
  • Pure Exploration Certificate of Guiding 

Don't have 12 weeks to spare?? Check out our 6 week Queenstown option! 




While this is an Adventure Guide Program, it's not all about the outdoors and outdoor pursuits. There will be cultural activities and exchange; sightseeing and touring; personal development; community and social events; free time and plenty of opportunity for exploration.  


Whether you are looking for a stepping stone into the adventure tourism career pathway as a guide, or just an awesome educational opportunity to live in the most amazing places on earth, the Pure Exploration Adventure Guide Program is an epic, constructive, and rewarding way to spend 3 months in New Zealand! 


You’ll love arriving into Nelson; a small artisan community with amazing farmers market, local fresh produce, craft beer, art galleries and laid back ocean vibes... not to mention epic climbing!



  • 12 week adventure tourism training and qualification program based in Nelson, New Zealand
  • 12 weeks accommodation
  • 10 weeks food allowance (Last 2 weeks self catered)
  • All technical equipment, program related transport & travel
  • Employer networking opportunities
  • Qualified & experienced technical instructors
  • Pure Exploration Certificate of Adventure Guiding
  • 2 x NZ Outdoor instructor association leader qualifications (hiking + rock climbing)
  • Pre-hospital emergency care qualification
  • Swift Water River Rescue Level 1 Certificate
  • Modules on guiding and leadership skills, critical incident management & technical skills
  • Live, learn, socialise and join the laid back beach community of Nelson


  • English Language Fluency
  • Be 18-35 years old at time of commencement
  • Moderate fitness is recommended. All professional development and training is provided
  • Have a passion for travel, adventure, & tourism
  • A desire to accept challenges, a thirst for knowledge, a love of outdoor activities or for our natural environment
  • Be a social team player that enjoys helping others discover adventure!

Note spaces on this program are extremely limited! Most of our candidates apply 8-12 months in advance of start date. 



Katherine's reflection of the Adventure Guide Program

Katherine, Colorado USA

"I walked away with some really good friends, and some great skills that I anticipated learning, and some that I didn't anticipate learning!"

Curtis summarises his Adventure Guide Program experience


I found Pure Ex, through a facebook ad. I took a shot at signing up and 100% do not regret. I was apart of the Sept 2018 Adventure guide program. Where i met 12 new friends and tackle the beauty of New Zealand, South Island. Recommend to anyone whose looking for something new and exciting. If you're a nature lover any of these programs are calling your name!


A diverse and exciting program designed to keep everyone interested and busy throughout their stay, balancing plenty of action, learning, social and free time.

WEEKS 1 - 2: Orientation and Hiking


Welcome to Nelson! We spend a few days having a group orientation where the group will get to know each other, settle into accommodation and have a typical kiwi BBQ and few beers. Over the next few days you'll all discuss the learning outcomes for the program, spend time participating in team bonding exercises, play various games and have time to explore your new back yard whilst taking part in an organised scavenger hunt! It's a really great few days and will solidify lifelong friendships with your Pure Ex family really quickly!

You’ll get an in-depth briefing providing you the core skills needed for the training ahead. Not to mention exploring some stunning local sights along the way!

Hike Module one will introduce you to day-hikes, overnight hikes, navigation, weather and map reading then introduce you to essential training in group management, risk analysis, and leadership.

WEEKS 3 – 4: Rock Climbing and Pre Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC)


On your third week we get you all kitted out to spend some time on the rock face climbing! In rock module one you get stuck into training on equipment, safety, top-roping and an intro to lead climbing. 

On the fourth week we spend time in Nelson, where participants will undertake Pre Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC) training. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, participants will receive an internationally recognised qualification. PHEC is known as "the beast" of first aid training and is the industry standard for adventure industry professionals. It's delivered by leading outdoor safety and emergency care professionals who we have worked closely with for a number of years and is ideal for those who are looking to lead groups in an outdoor environment. Participants become familiar with the use of advanced emergency care equipment such as oxygen, defibrillators and BP cuffs as well as other resuscitation techniques.

WEEKS 5 - 6: Further hiking, rock climbing and SWIFT water rescue training

At this point of the program, we take it up a notch. It’s time to test your limits and push those new skills. We take you to a few more challenging locations where you’ll have to pull together as a team to get through, and where you’ll really start to see the value in ensuring processes are followed and back-up plans are in place!

Hike Module Two covers: Multi-day hiking, camping, nutrition, leadership, navigation, flora and fauna and natural interpretation skills

Rock Module Two covers: Lead climbing, top-roping systems, abseiling, transitions and clifftop safety 

Two days are also spent in the water, with our custom SWIFT water rescue training. This course will teach you the skills needed in order to read and understand water patterns, water safety, rules and regulations, environmental and cultural practices, as well as how to conduct river rescues. It's a great course to compliment the PHEC qualification, and it will instill in you a general sense of confidence around water.


WEEKS 7 - 10 Leadership

Hike Modules Three and Four: are when you start practicing leading your group, trip planning and gaining some mileage for your logbook! A couple more multi-day adventures await 

Rock Modules Three and Four: again you will start leading your group, route planning, safety assessments and risk management. A couple of awesome road trips to find the best hidden crags! 

WEEKS 11- 12 Client days and assessments


Time to complete logbook requirements to enable you to sit your upcoming NZOIA Bush and Rock Leader assessments

We will set you up with leadership days to run hiking and climbing excursions, from trip planning, safety, pickups, equipment, working with clients, and leading groups! 

Get some real experience with what it takes to plan, risk assess and successfully lead a day expedition

Assessments take place in the final week of the program, a 2 day Bush Assessment and a 2 day Rock Assessment. We have an amazing 98% pass rate, so if you have put in the time and energy - by the end of the program you will 

be a certified NZOIA Rock and Bush Leader

To top off your 12 weeks with us we host an epic graduation dinner. 

For those looking to stay on in NZ and seek employment we provide plenty of support and assistance to get you hooked up with our industry partners. 


Each week will include*

  • 5 days of Technical Training
  • 1 day of Self-Directed Learning
  • 1 day for Admin or as Free Day

*The order of days will change each week and as your training progresses. This is simply a general outline.

Other Pure Ex Programs
We have a number of exciting programs in a range of countries that you may be keen to experience. These include:

Expedition Leader Program - For those keen to push their skills in high alpine regions, and begin to specialise in altitude and advanced technical hiking. A global course that finishes in the Himalayas.


This is a sample itinerary. Modules may occur in a different order due to weather conditions or scheduling requirements