Adventure Guide Program Nelson New Zealand
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Adventure Guide Program - Nelson, NZ



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 New Zealand, Nelson is an oasis of golden beaches, fruit orchards, craft beer brewing and relaxed locals. 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.


18 Jan - 11 Apr


20 Sep - 12 Dec


10 Jan - 2 Apr


An Adventure Guide Program is the first step in your dream of becoming an outdoor adventure guide. Your time on this 12-week course will be split between practical and theoretical training, while you explore the Nelson area and gain world-recognized hiking qualifications and rock climbing certifications!


This program gains participants the following guiding qualifications:

  • NZOIA Bush Leader qualification
  • NZOIA Rock Leader qualification
  • Pure Exploration Certificate of Guiding 
  • Pre-hospital Emergency Care Certification (PHEC)
  • Swift Water Rescue Safety Level 1 Certificate

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



Our New Zealand Adventure Guide Program offers you an epic 12 weeks in some of the most impressive landscapes in the world. You will hike and climb your way through Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi National Park and even Abel Tasman! But 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 one of the most amazing places on earth, the Adventure Guide Program is an epic and rewarding way to spend 3 months in New Zealand! 


Adventure Guide Program Nelson



Explore New Zealand's sunniest location as you travel the coastline from Nelson to the Abel Tasman National Park, and experience a Waka Journey and traditional Maori meal and activities. This epic coastline features pristine golden beaches, crystal-clear water, native bush and great mountains to climb.


You might even spot some blue penguins, dolphins or fur seals on your hikes or hire a kayak to get a closer look at them. From scenic strolls by the waterfront to a multi-day adventure along one of New Zealand's Great Walks in Abel Tasman, this region has it all, making it a perfect place for your outdoor adventure! 



This outdoor adventure course is suitable for anyone who wants to embark on a career to become a global outdoor guide, or simply to challenge their own understanding of what it means to take on the wild. Gain skills you'll use your whole life as a hiker, climber and lover of exploring untouched regions. Bring on the adventures!


  • 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
  • Qualified & experienced technical instructors
  • 2 x NZ Outdoor Instructor Association Leader Qualifications (hiking + rock climbing)
  • Pure Exploration Certificate of Adventure Guiding
  • Pre-hospital emergency care qualification
  • Swift Water River Rescue Level 1 Certificate
  • Modules on guiding and leadership skills, critical incident management & technical skills
  • Employer networking opportunities
  • 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!



Do you want to know more?

We have answered the most frequently asked questions in the FAQ SectionIf you still have any other questions, feel free to fill in this form or to schedule a call with one of our program advisors for more information.


Book a call


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 part of the Sept 2018 Adventure Guide Program, where I met 12 new friends and explored the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. I totally recommend Pure Ex to anyone whose looking for something new and exciting. If you're a nature lover, Pure Ex is 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. 


This is a sample guide to what you can expect to do on the program. Please note that treks, locations and the order in which the activities occur may be subject to change, due to seasonality, operational requirements or health & safety.



Nelson Adventure Guide Program



Enrollment is open, so the next step would be to check current availability here and then complete your booking.



We have a number of other 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 specialize in altitude and advanced technical hiking. A global course that finishes in the Himalayas

Outdoor Instructor Program - This is an accelerated, practical immersion program, which offers a unique pathway from training to employment in the outdoor industry.

Adventure Guide Program Nepal - A fan favorite and for good reason! Iconic landscapes, isolated mountain villages, warm friendly locals, Nepal is unforgettable and carves a place into your heart like no other.