Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

General Questions

Where do the participants come from?

Most of our participants are from Europe, North America and Australia. We have also hosted participants from South America, Asia, New Zealand and South Africa. The majority of our participants on our Queenstown Adventure Guide Program come from countries who are able to get Working Holiday Visas in New Zealand, allowing them to stay after the program, work, and travel for up to a year. This is not mandatory though, all of our programs only require a tourist visa. 

We have a range of people join our programs, for a number of purposes. Some are school leavers wanting an active, enriching break before university. Some people take a career break, for personal development or simply a break from the rat race to recharge. We get a lot of people on board for the training and career prospects - either just starting out in the professional world and looking for which route they want to chose, but we also have lots of diverse backgrounds; of people in completely unrelated fields and levels of experience looking for a career change. The ages and nationalities of the group depend entirely on who signs up and when, so it is potluck who you will find yourself on the program for 3 months with. But you know they will be equally as keen for adventure and the outdoors, with a passion for the environment and an eagerness for self improvement and boundary pushing.

How old are the course participants?

We take on students aged 18 - 35, with some exceptions for older students.

Will I get independent free time?

We generally aim to give you a bit of time off when possible to allow you to integrate, explore and socialise in your new home. That said, we are either training or out exploring for a fair portion of the program! The program is based on modules, so after each module, there is a bit of allocated free time. During the break, participants go exploring in groups or solo, and many use their newly discovered passions while they're away! When your get days off,  will vary from program to program. Your Program Advisor will be able to give you more information about this in more detail on a call or via email. So please do not hesitate to reach out.

What is included in the price?

Included within the course prices are:

- 3 months of accommodation (a mixture of the main "basecamp" house, camping, and mountain huts)
- All technical rock climbing equipment - except climbing shoes
- Group tents and cooking gear
- Transportation while on the program (Arrival and departure flights are not included)
- Outdoor First Aid course
- 3 months of tuition and instruction from industry-leading instructors
- Help to build an impressive logbook
- Client days, taking real clients hiking and rock climbing, and instructing them

Program specific inclusions:
- Swift or White Water Rescue Course (Nepal & Queenstown Only)
- Introduction to Packrafting course (Queenstown Only)
- Introduction to Mountaineering Course (Patagonia Only)
- Food for program days (Nepal Only)
- Networking event (Queenstown Only)

Are flights included in the program cost?

No, while most in-program transport is provided for you, the flights to and from the destination are not included in the program cost. However, Pure Exploration has partnered with The Travellist Co., a full service travel agency that can arrange everything from flights and pre/post trip accommodation to comprehensive travel insurance for our participants. Partnering with the most recognized, respected and trusted suppliers worldwide, The Travellist Co. can guide and advise you on all aspects of your travel experience. They have all the flight requirements for our programs and offer 10+ years direct industry experience, enabling them to create and deliver independent and expertly cultivated journeys. Learn more about the services or send them an email to discuss your program travel needs.

How do I get more information?

Just hit the enquiry button, send us a message, and we will be in touch ASAP to arrange a time to talk. 

Alternatively you can email us directly on [email protected]

Travel Insurance & Visa

Is travel insurance a requirement? Why?

Absolutely. We will require proof of your travel insurance for the period of time you will be on programs. In the unlikely event you have a medical illness or emergency while away with us we guarantee you'll want to be covered! We provide all assistance to you in terms of obtaining attention, however you will need your own insurance to cover any costs once you have sought medical advice or treatment.


To make things easy for you, Pure Exploration has partnered with The Travellist Co., a full service travel agency that can arrange everything from flights and pre/post trip accommodation to comprehensive travel insurance for our participants. Partnering with the most recognized, respected and trusted suppliers worldwide, The Travellist Co. can guide and advise you on all aspects of your travel experience. They have all the travel insurance requirements for our programs and offer 10+ years direct industry experience, enabling them to create and deliver independent and expertly cultivated journeys. Learn more about the services or send them an email to discuss your program travel needs.

Do I need a visa?

For the Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown you may need a tourist visa depending on your citizenship.

You will need a Working Holiday Visa if you intend to work whilst in New Zealand/during your program.

You will also need visas for the Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia and Nepal. Our sales team will discuss this with you during your interview and follow-up calls in the lead-up to departure.

When are your next programs?

Check out our availability page here for all our upcoming programs.

What happens if Pure Exploration decides to reroute or change the itinerary of a program that I am booked on?

It is possible that a program itinerary may be subject to small changes, or an entire re-routing depending on the global situation. Our first priority is always customer safety, secondly is meeting the educational and developmental goals of our programs. If we feel for any reason that the itinerary booked will not offer the highest level of health and safety or deliver a life-changing experience for our customers, we will be looking to offer alternative locations that deliver a similar yet better experience. 

Fitness & Experience

Do I need any experience in the outdoors?

No professional experience is required. Just an adventurous, social and active attitude that’s open to being immersed into new cultures, environments and trying new things. All we ask for is a positive attitude and a willingness to participate in the activities we engage in throughout the course. 

It should be noted that the majority of our course time is spent outside hiking or climbing, which will require students to have a moderate or above average fitness level in order to complete. You can even read our blog page on "Everything you need to know about climbing", to see whether you think you have enough experience to join us. 

If you are unsure about this, we can discuss your suitability for the program on enquiry and point you in the right direction.

How fit or active do I really need to be?

We do require a demonstrable ability to conduct medium level adventure activities and therefore require a moderate fitness level.

Participants will engage in activities like rock climbing, tramping, and swimming, and should be comfortable doing such. Prior experience in these activities is not necessary, but participants should be fit enough to carry single to multi-day packs for a minimum of 7-8 hours on undulating terrain. Students will find more enjoyment in the activities we do on course with higher fitness levels. 

There will always be group members who are fitter and stronger than the majority of the group, and some who are a bit slower. In a group instruction situation, if a participant’s lack of fitness/ability severely affects the running of the program the participant(s) will be asked to remain at the hut or other location for certain activities. The guide is the final arbiter in these decisions.

What about physical or medical conditions?

 Please discuss with us any physical or medical conditions so we can offer the best advice. 

Safety & Security

How does Pure Exploration maintain safety?

Medical & Security Assistance

We retain a medical and security assistance company who provide specialist advice prior to our departures regarding all aspects of our travel itineraries and physical on the ground support in the event of an emergency. 

All participants are required to provide to us proof of their own travel insurance prior to departure also. 


We maintain a ratio of 1 leader for every 6 participants for adventure travel, and our ratios change based on the industry best practice standards for our delivery of adventure activities. This means we prioritise personal levels of support available to you at all times!


Participants are given training early during orientation specific to the country and culture. This includes tips on personal safety, health and hygiene, hazards, food, and much more. Our leaders then monitor and support this throughout the program. Adherence to our few simple behaviour rules ensures this keeps you fully focused on exploration and development.


External Auditing

Pure Exploration is audited by AdventureMark. We are also a partner organisation of the Department of Conservation New Zealand. We strive to exceed New Zealand’s rigorous and proven standards of excellence in tourism and adventure.  

Educational Qualifications

What qualifications will I gain from the Adventure Guide Program?

Contrary to what most people believe, when it comes to getting qualifications for hiking and climbing, there are actually no internationally recognised qualifications at the entry level for guiding in these disciplines. 

The reason for this is that each state, region, or country has specific protocols and industry standards relating to these activities, in terms of how they can run professionally. When you think about it, places around the globe all have different cultural norms, environments, weather systems, and a general way of how things are done, so this explains why qualifications are often specific to a place.

The good news for everyone getting started in the outdoor industry is that most guiding companies often have some grace for those just beginning their journey, and recognise that although international qualifications may not hold weight in their country, professional and personal experience in the field does. This is where the importance of a logbook comes in. We have had many students join our Adventure Guide Program and continue on to their home countries with a logbook full of hikes and climbs, training hours and client days. Your logbook is your resume of experience in the industry which is why we believe it is so important for you and your career to keep this in focus (as explained above).  You can read more about  the qualifications offered on our webpage here.

Extra certifications
  • NZOIA Bush Leader and Rock Leader (Queenstown).
  • Pure Exploration Rock Climbing Supervisor and Trekking Leader certification (Patagonia & Nepal -The Pure Exploration qualifications, although written and structured around the NZOIA, are designed for people wanting to operate in a global context.)
  • White-Water Level 1 Rescue training (Nepal)
  • Outdoor River Rescue along with an Intro to Packrafting (Queenstown)
  • All our courses feature a First Aid Certification.

Are the qualifications from the program internationally recognised?

Queenstown Adventure Guide program

Each country has its own framework of outdoor guiding certifications. So it is important to get yourself certifications that are going to be well recognised, well known and well respected! The NZOIA ones most certainly are, not only because it’s an independent assessing authority but also because of NZ’s outstanding reputation for outdoor and adventure pursuits. NZOIA certs look very good on your CV, particularly in the likes of North America and Europe as they are well regarded by employers.

Nepal & Patagonia Adventure Guide programs

The Pure Exploration qualifications, although written and structured around the NZOIA, are designed for people wanting to operate in a global context. The skillset you are gaining is applicable globally. It's not until you’ve built up years of experience and proof of time in the field that you can consider applying for international guiding qualifications. IFMGA or UIMLA are examples of international qualifications which ensure guides all have technical expertise, safety standards and the professionalism necessary to lead expeditions around the world. These certifications require guides to possess specific skill sets, undergo rigorous training, and take years of time in the field to achieve. On our Patagonia and Nepal Adventure Guide Programs you will be trained to NZOIA Rock and Bush Leader standards. Your guides on these programs are IFMGA or UIMLA qualified and will help you to build and impressive logbook and sign off all your formal training and assessments throughout 3 months on program. You can read more about why your logbook will be important internationally here. You will also gain internationally recognised first aid qualifications on these programs.

Accommodation & Meals

Is accommodation included in the program cost?

Yes, 12 weeks of accommodation is included in all of our Adventure Guide Programs. Accommodation throughout the program varies. For the our Queenstown & Patagonia Adventure Guide Program, you can expect a house/lodge as your base, with camping in tents, huts and occasional hostels thrown in along the way. The Nepal Adventure Guide Program will also include accommodation, but will not have a home base due to its nomadic nature. You instead will find yourself moving between tents, huts and hostel style accommodation.

Accommodation is not included in the Outdoor Instructor Program.

Are meals included?

Meals are not included on any of our programs except for our Nepal Adventure Guide Program, due to the nomadic, off the beaten track nature of the program. On this program, we do cater for most requirements – vegetarian, vegan, celiac, however this is always worth discussing with us on application.

Employment opportunities

Will I be more employable?

Your newfound understanding of the adventure tourism industry, adventure recreation as well as destinations, activities, and culture will certainly be appreciated by all over the world. On our Adventure Guide Programs, students will not only leave with the hard skills required to take on the guiding industry but also leave you with experience applying a variety of soft skills which will be transferable and desirable no matter the path you choose to take. Soft skills include attributes such as learning to communicate effectively, managing group dynamics, modifying your teaching style to situations or individuals, problem-solving, adapting plans on the go and conflict resolution. If you want to see what some of our Alumni have gone on to do after program, check out our Outdoor Careers webpage here.

Note: On our Queenstown Adventure Guide Program, during month three, we host a networking event for our students to meet some of Queenstown's biggest tourism companies. Our vast network of New Zealand tourism operators, guides, and outdoor education centres allows us to help you get connected to the right employer when possible. 

Do people only use the Adventure Guide Program as a way to work in the the industry?

No, although it is a training course that up-skills you in two core disciplines, 50% of people also use it for their own personal development and to build up their self-sufficiency in the outdoors.  As well as that, our programs allow people to experience travel in a completely unique way - whether it be taking in the landscapes of New Zealand, Patagonia and Nepal whilst dangling from a rope or camping with your crew at the end of a multi-day hike.

Program Payment

Do you offer any scholarships or financial aid?

We don't offer scholarships and therefore this would be up to you to organise if you attend a school or college that provided funding for students to study abroad. We do however offer payment plans so you can spread your course fees out over the year, reach out if you'd like to discuss our payment plans further.


What are your payment plan options?

To secure your place on one of our programs we only require a 5% deposit to lock in your spot. After this, your final payment covering the balance of the program cost will be due 90 days before program departure, unless you are making a booking for a program that begins in less than 90 days. 

Bookings made less than 90 days before departure

Bookings accepted less than 90 days prior to departure can be secured with the deposit; full payment must then reach us within a further 14 days, unless otherwise specified in writing by your Program Advisor.

Bookings made more than 365 days before departure

Bookings accepted for a program that commences 365 days or more in the future must have 50% of the full balance paid 180 days prior to departure, and the full balance must be paid 100% 90 days prior to departure.

We created payment plans to allow students to break up their remaining payments into smaller, more manageable chunks in a way that suits their current situation or lifestyle. This could look like weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly payments depending on how far in advance they booked onto the program. You can always talk to one of our program advisors on a call to discuss this in more detail.

NOTE: In order for a program to go ahead, everyone signed up must be fully paid by 90 days before the program's start date. This is when we confirm with everyone that the program will 100% go ahead. It is also the point that we confirm numbers with all operators and partners for the programs, and to do so we need everyone fully balanced.

What type of jobs are available for a graduates from the Adventure Guide Programs?

Many of our students have successfully found jobs in their chosen disciplines whether it be as a climbing guide, via ferrata guide, zipline operator, program leader, operations manager or working for a heliski company! Some have gone on to be assistant instructors on programs like ours and others have used it to move on to further education options. Check out our 'Careers in the Outdoor' section to read about what some of our alumni have gone on to do after their Pure Exploration programs.

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