Outdoor Recreation Guide/Instructor Kaiārahi o Waho/Kaiwhakaako o Waho

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors teach or guide outdoor activities such as rafting, kayaking, canyoning, skiing, hunting, climbing, caving and mountain biking.

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Registration is not compulsory for outdoor recreation guides and instructors. However, they may choose to register with the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors' Association (NZOIA) or join the New Zealand Register of Recreation Professionals (NZRRP).

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors who register their qualifications are re-evaluated by NZOIA every three years to ensure they are up to date with current standards. 

Adventure tourism operators need to register with WorkSafe and pass safety audit inspections to legally operate.

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors may do some or all of the following:

  • plan outdoor recreation activities and instruction programmes
  • assess risks involved in an activity, taking into account the weather and different clients' abilities
  • lead, guide and teach people taking part in activities
  • organise safety procedures including checking equipment, running rescue practices, and providing first aid if necessary
  • prepare recreation areas by doing things such as signposting or fencing off paths and hazards
  • organise bookings, transport, food and accommodation, and drive clients to activities
  • clean and store equipment after use
  • keep logbooks of their trips.

Mountain or Glacier Guide

The New Zealand Mountain Guides Association provides advanced training and qualifications for climbing, ski, trekking and hard ice guides. This includes the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) qualification.

Ski Field Patroller

Many employers prefer ski field patrollers to have a Certificate in Ski Patrol.

To work on bigger ski fields, such as Coronet Peak, you also need to have passed an Avalanche Safety Stage One training course and a Pre-Hospital Emergency Care course.

Whitewater Rafting Guide

Whitewater rafting guides need a National Raft Guide Award that relates to the grade of river they want to work on. For example, guides working on a Grade 2 river must have a National Raft Guide Award, Grade 2.

Riverboard Guide

Riverboard guides need a National Riverboard Guide Award that relates to the grade of river they want to work on. 

Physical Requirements

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors need to have excellent fitness and health. They must be strong as they may have to transport equipment, walk, cycle, ski or ride long distances, or take part in a range of physical activities.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for outdoor recreation guides and instructors includes:

  • paid or voluntary leadership of outdoor recreation groups
  • teaching, sales or customer service work
  • work involving contact with the public
  • first aid and accident emergency work
  • conservation work.

Personal Qualities

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors need to be:

  • mature, responsible and able to stay calm in emergencies
  • able to make good decisions under pressure
  • patient, sympathetic and enthusiastic
  • confident in their own abilities and able to inspire confidence in others
  • excellent leaders with good communication skills
  • good at planning and organisation, with strong problem-solving skills
  • able to work as part of a team
  • alert and observant.

Skills

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors need to have:

  • a high level of skill in their outdoor activity or activities
  • knowledge of health and safety procedures relating to activities they undertake
  • outdoor survival and first aid skills
  • knowledge of weather conditions and geography in the area where they work.

Conditions

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors:

  • may work long and irregular hours, including weekends and nights
  • work at locations such as national parks, mountains, forests, caves, rivers, lakes and the sea
  • may work in hot, cold, wet, windy or hazardous conditions
  • may travel within New Zealand or overseas to areas where the outdoor activities take place.

Outdoor Recreation Guide/Instructors can earn around $44K-$58K per year.

Pay for outdoor recreation guides and instructors varies depending on experience, qualifications, and the type of work they do.

Pay rates for outdoor recreation instructors

  • New outdoor recreation instructors with entry-level qualifications usually earn minimum wage.
  • Instructors with higher qualifications can earn between $44,000 and $58,000.

Instructors at outdoor education centres may receive an allowance for gear.

Pay rates for outdoor recreation guides

Outdoor recreation guides are often paid by hour, day or trip.

  • New guides or guides in training can expect to earn minimum wage.
  • Guides with more qualifications and responsibilities can earn up to $28 an hour.

Guides may be paid extra for longer trips with more clients.

Source: careers.govt.nz research, 2018.

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors may move into senior, management or training roles, or may set up their own guiding businesses. They may also teach at polytechnics or outdoor recreation centres.

Outdoor recreation guides and instructors usually specialise in an area such as:

Bungy Jump Master
Bungy jump masters direct, supervise and control bungy jumping activities.
Canyoning Guide
Canyoning guides organise and lead canyoning trips.
Fishing Guide
Fishing guides organise and run guided fishing trips for individuals or groups.
Horse Trekking Guide
Horse trekking guides organise and lead trips along beaches, parks and New Zealand's back country.
Hunting Guide
Hunting guides organise and run guided hunting trips for individuals or groups.
Mountain Biking Guide
Mountain biking guides organise and lead mountain bike tours.
Mountain or Glacier Guide
Mountain or glacier guides organise and run guided trips of mountains and glaciers.
Outdoor Adventure Instructor
Outdoor adventure instructors provide education in outdoor adventure sports and bushcraft.
Rock Climbing Guide
Rock climbing guides teach different styles of climbing at indoor climbing walls or on guided climbing trips outdoors.
Ski Field Patroller
Ski field patrollers provide a safe environment for skiers and snowboarders by ensuring conditions are safe, and educating visitors about mountain safety.
Trekking Guide
Trekking guides organise and run guided bushwalking and trekking trips.
Whitewater Rafting Guide
Whitewater rafting guides organise and run guided rafting and kayaking trips on whitewater rivers.

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become an outdoor recreation guide or instructor. However, a diploma in outdoor recreation (Level 5 or 6) may be useful.

Outdoor recreation qualifications from Skills Active Aotearoa or the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors' Association (NZOIA) may also be useful.

You must also have a high level of skill and experience in the relevant outdoor activity.

Skills Active Aotearoa oversees outdoor recreation instructor apprenticeships.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Outdoor Recreation Guide/Instructor