Pure Exploration

Why choose Pure Exploration?

Pure Exploration Adventure Travel Programs run in unique locations across the globe. Offering extensive outdoor immersion where students can work on their guiding and instructor skills in hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, bushcraft and the general outdoors. Our programs run between 12 and 28 weeks, with students learning new skills, embracing the outdoors and experiencing adventure travel as it should be.

The instructors at Pure Exploration are highly qualified and experienced in all things hiking and rock climbing, you will learn everything from customer service skills to technical outdoor skills from them.

Each adventure travel program is designed to build confidence, encourage personal development and prepare you for a career in the outdoors. Our programs are not exclusive for those looking to become an adventure guide, for many it is a comfortable place to begin independent travel or to break up some everyday monotony whilst trying something new! What are you waiting for!?

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We are committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive organisation, and we recognise that this requires time, effort, and resources. We welcome everyone and anyone to our Pure Exploration Programs including students, staff, local guides and external stakeholders.

LGBTQIA+ Support

All of our Pure Exploration programs are LGBTQIA+ friendly. We provide an open and non-judgemental space for students to explore who they are and to take their initial steps into the outdoor adventure world. We welcome everyone and anyone to our Pure Exploration Programs including students, staff, local guides and external stakeholders.

Neurodivergent Support

We welcome everyone and anyone to our Pure Exploration Programs including students, staff, local guides and external stakeholders.



Sustainability is one of the four core components of each Pure Exploration program, where we provide students with the environment to learn about local environmental issues, how to travel sustainably and have them think deeply about their impact and what they can do in their daily lives to affect change.

Ethical Impact

We make a conscious decision to partner with suppliers who are passionate about our students' participation and involvement with them being of a positive benefit to the community. We want our presence to enable positive, sustainable growth for our partners and this mantra is ingrained in the fabric of our programs.


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Yes, I recommend this program


I had a great time on course did 2 amazing hikes, and went climbing so meany times. Great fun with great views. The only thing I would change would be the work I would put that at the end of the course instead of the middle so that you can focus on what you need to learn more and not on work. This way you can make the work optional too for people who want to stay longer. But overall great experience just be prepared to study and teach yourself a bit about plants and climbing and knots. The end :)

  • Meet new people and make friends
  • Learn so much about climbing
  • Have new certificates at the end
  • Having to say bye to them when you leave
  • Having to learn bush stuff for yourself
  • Sand flys
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Yes, I recommend this program

If you want to have the best three months of your life, sign up for this program!!!

I had a lot of hesitancies when signing up for this program. Is the cost really worth it? Am I fit enough to do three months of climbing and hiking? Is this something that I really want to do?
Thankfully for me (and most likely for you as well), the answer to all of these questions is yes!!
From personal experience I know, the cost of the program can seem daunting at first, but there is SO much that is covered for you in that program fee. Accommodation for the entire duration of the course, a weekly stipend for food (I often found myself having money leftover from the stipend), all of the costs that go into earning your NZOIA certifications, a pre-hospital emergency care course, an activity budget (which for us meant a day doing via ferrata, a morning on a stand up paddle board made for twenty people, and even a week long road trip to two different cities on the south island!), and so much more is all covered within that program fee!
Additionally, I know a lot of people may wonder if they are fit enough for this program. I will tell you that I am not strongest climber by any means of the definition. I came into the program having never done outdoor top rope before in my life. This was the case for most of my program mates. Our instructors taught us absolutely everything from the very basics of top rope and continued to expand our knowledge throughout the course and by the end, we all had more than enough capability to not only earn our Rock leader certifications, but to also have fun, successful client days. Going alongside that, I'm also not the fastest hiker. What can I say, I like to enjoy the view whilst heavy breathing! Nonetheless, I managed to have so much fun on all of our bush days and find my place in the group. Over the course of the twelve weeks, I gained so much strength and confidence in my own abilities, which leads me into my third point.
Is this something you really want to do? Of course, you know yourself better than I do, but I think you should do it. The most important thing you gain from this course isn't the certifications, it isn't the bragging rights you get after spending three months in New Zealand, it isn't even the fun excursions and beautiful hikes and climbs you get to complete on program. The most important thing that you gain from this program is growth. You grow as a person, as an instructor, as a leader, as a lover of the outdoors, throughout the 12 weeks you spend on this program, you will grow more than you ever thought was possible. Your instructors will be right alongside you as you evolve and change and the relationships that you will build with both your instructors and your program mates will be unmatched. Even if there are days where you are tired or homesick or can't remember why you came to New Zealand in the first place, the people you are surrounded by most will be the ones to pick you right up and remind you how far you've come from the start of the program and how amazing the work that you've put into it is.
The Pure Exploration Adventure Guide Program is like no other.
After reading this, I hope you are only asking yourself one final question: "Am I ready to have the best three months of my life?"

Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Young Adventure

For any young travellers looking to meet some rad and interesting mates this program is for you!!

I just made the cut (age wise) and was a little nervous to be spending three months away from my friends and family; not knowing anyone in kiwi land. Little did I know I would meet the coolest and friendliest people out here (actually I was told I would, besides the point) and live amongst them for three months! They’re now my family away from home that I will remember forever. Till next time AGP.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Spending more time disconnected in the wilderness.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Just DO it

Being a part of the AGP was an incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone wanting insight into the outdoor industry. The program is a good mix of technical skill building like rock climbing and bush safety combined with personal development. This is a program where you have to work within a group all the time, meal planning, food shopping, gear organization etc. All in all the nature of the program teaches you more skills than what is required for the NZIOA award and leaves you more prepared to take your friends into the bush for a hiking or rock climbing adventure.

What would you improve about this program?
The quality of the program is quite high, it could be improved with explicitly sharing the learning goals of each module.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Expedition Leader Program (June 2019)

I had the most incredible experience traveling with the team on the Expedition Leader Program earlier this year. Coming into the program with high expectations, I can genuinely say that every single one of them was surpassed. Pure Exploration absolutely blew it out of the park. Not only was the team made up of fantastic individuals, our instructors Keri and Jessica were incredible mentors from whom I was able to learn so much in what felt like so little time, and the office team back in NZ provided support beyond anything we could've asked for. I recommend the ELP to anyone looking for growth, adventure, challenges and connections that will last a lifetime. This program lit a fire in me that will forever push me to chase my dreams. I cannot wait to see where this experience will take me in the future!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Bugs! There were so many types available for us to try specifically in China and in eastern Ecuador!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Avery Kirk

Avery is a young traveller who has spent her college-aged years educating herself through travel and enriching experiences. She has been traveling and living abroad for the past four years and has been to 22 countries and 36 US states.
Avery Kirk


Why did you choose this program?

I chose the Queenstown Adventure Guide Program because I was looking to cultivate my skills in both rock climbing and hiking. The adventure guide program caught my eye because it is a truly immersive program that automatically gets you a foot in the door in all areas of guiding-not just specifically hiking and climbing related jobs. I thought that this program had an extensive amount to offer for the cost and what better place to explore than the south island of New Zealand!

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own

Thankfully by doing the Adventure Guide Program, there's really not a lot that I needed to organize ahead of time. Of course you will need the essential travel requirements like a passport and visa, but those are very simple to obtain for those coming from the US. I also needed to book my own flight and accommodation for the days I was in New Zealand prior to the program start. Otherwise, essentially everything is provided by Pure Exploration. Students are provided accommodation for the duration of the program, a weekly stipend for food, all program-related transportation and most of the gear that you would need while on program (tents, climbing equipment, harnesses, helmets, etc.). You need to bring your own backpack, hiking poles, sleeping bag/liner, sleeping pad, etc. and I would recommend bringing your own climbing shoes, but if there's anything you don't have, there are many shops in Queenstown that offer gear at discounted rates for Pure Exploration students.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

The number one piece of advice I would give to someone who is going on the adventure guide program is simply: enjoy it. Enjoy every minute of your time in New Zealand because it goes by FAST. I blinked and next thing I knew, three months had gone by! There is so much to do in Queenstown and the surrounding area, it is the adventure capital of the world, so spend your days off exploring and having fun! While on program, enjoy your time with your program-mates and instructors. If you're able to do that, this will truly be the best three months of your entire life.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

This is an intensive program, so you are on essentially all the time during the week. You will alternate between full weeks of rock climbing and hiking and often times you will be sleeping somewhere other than your own bed. During the week, you won't have much downtime, but on your weekends, you will have plenty of time to rest and explore. Your instructors will understand that the program can be intense and tiring at times, so they are very understanding of how you feel on program-it's just very important to communicate with them if you are feeling extra tired or down!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going into this experience was being the least fit person in the group and not being able to keep up with the intensity of the program. I'll be honest, I ended up being the slowest hiker in the group- even if somedays it was more mental than it was physical. In the beginning, this really stressed me out. I remember on our first bush week, I was hiking along (out of breath, of course) and asking myself if I had made a mistake doing the program. I felt embarrassed. I told my instructor that I just felt like I was holding everybody back with my inabilities and he very quickly assured me that I wasn't holding a single person back and that over the course of the program I was going to get stronger and grow so much-and I can confirm now, that he was right!

I grew a lot over the course of the program both physically and mentally and by the end, those fears that I had at the beginning of the program were no longer at the forefront of my mind. It's important to know that the reason you should join this program isn't because you are the strongest person in every room you walk into, it's because you are excited to grow and become stronger over the 12 weeks of the program.

What kind of career opportunities do you have after completing this course?

There are a lot of different paths that people take after this course. Of the 8 of us who completed the full 12 week program, 3 stayed in New Zealand and the other 5 left to pursue jobs elsewhere. Personally, I was able to get a job in Alaska guiding tours of the arctic region! Another one of my program mates became a raft guide, another is guiding tours out of Queenstown. So it's easy to say that this program opens a large varieties of doors for you career wise!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Ben Thomson

Job Title
Program Instructor
Kiwi lad, travelling and working all over NZ, Aussie, Africa and Asia. Obsessed with the ocean and a desire to keep seeing and exploring new places.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Renting a Tuktuk and driving it around Sri Lanka with two buddies. “No plan is the best plan” was the theme. We cruised around, going from surf break to surf break, and beach bar to beach bar. However, getting lost, possibly
more than once, and mingling with the locals, hearing their stories, was the best part.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I was humbled by the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn from my students. I love being in the outdoors and using it as a tool to explore, be challenged and grow. Having students wanting to share that stoke amazing. Sharing a common goal is the best way to unite a group. What blew me away the most was the amount of learning I gained from the greatest bunch of humans I’ve ever met.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Too many. Some have gone off travelling and working together. Others have wound up working for the company they studied with. More have kicked on and gone off on their own travel adventures. But we all still stay in touch which is the best part, continuously dishing out banter and motivating each other to continue adventuring.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Stuck between two. Either.... the Expedtion Leader x Program that crosses half the globe and involves trekking and adventures across three continents. Or the Adventure Guide Programe run out of Patagonia. Hiking and rock climbing in the Andes through glacier country, it speaks for its self. Something to never forget.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The friendly faces, dedication and genuine passion towards what they are doing. Everything that happens in the background and all the time the staff put in to their own roles all revolves around the students having the best possible experience. The support I received as an instructor and the face of the program was amazing.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Everyone having that same passion and the same goal. If you do what you love, then you love what you do.
The relaxed and social nature is also a massive highlight. Everyone always has time for each other, and are always encouraging each other to come hang out of go on adventures together. Looking to improve and openly sharing feedback is also a great trait of Pure Exploration.

Professional Associations

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