Pure Exploration



The team at Pure Exploration are everyday people, helping people have extraordinary experiences. We think real travel isn’t just about box-ticking guidebook recommendations or Instagram shots, it’s about authentic experiences spent with new friends who inspire you to think about the world and yourself in new ways.

Adventure travel as it should be...



Default avatar
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.
Default avatar
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.
Default avatar
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!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Program

This is a great program that provided an awesome experience in New Zealand. The program is full-on, with great adventures and a lot of teaching - if you're thinking about this and planning to pursue the qualifications, be prepared for a lot of self-managed learning. We were able to see some of the most famous parts of the South Island (Milford, Aoraki/Mt. Cook, etc.), and develop a lot of technical skills. If you're planning to pursue work in outdoor education or outdoor tourism, this is a great first step, as it provides excellent training as well as great industry connections in New Zealand. The instructors are highly qualified and have more knowledge than you could possibly absorb in 3 months, and they have great industry connections. Everyone on the Pure Ex team works really hard to make sure the students are getting as much as possible out of the program both personally and professionally, and the qualifications and skills gained are marketable in a lot of industries.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you're thinking of doing this program, plan for an intense 3 months! The learning and travel can be exhausting at times. I bought a notebook the first week I was here to take notes and try to retain everything I'd learned. I also used my phone to take photos of notes that were drawn out by instructors, and videos of various climbing setups, etc. I bought a decent phone case that's waterproof and drop-proof prior to this course, and it was one of the best investments I made - it allowed me to use my phone for notes and photos without having to worry about it.

If you're thinking you want to be employed after the program, look into using a tourist visa while you're here for the program and then transitioning to a working holiday visa toward the end of your program to make the most of your time here! If you can, get a CV pulled together before the program starts so that it's easy to update with your pending qualifications, as job hunting during the program was especially time consuming and exhausting - the more you can do to set yourself up for success on that front, the better off you'll be when it comes time to find a job.

Generally, bring less than you think you'll need - there's very little from the US/Canada that you can't get once you're here - but bring a couple fun/comfort things. One of the best things I brought were my cozy fuzzy socks (the kind you would never wear out of the house) and a cozy sweatshirt. I already had a lot of camping/climbing/hiking gear, so I brought what I had, but you can definitely purchase additional things here quite easily if you're worried that what you have isn't correct. It's more expensive here than in the States, but better than bringing a bunch of stuff you don't need.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

an Exceptional way to learn and discover New Zealand

If you are looking for a way to pick up life experience and are interested in a career outdoors Pure Ex is an excellent choice.
Taking the adventure guide program is an exceptional way to not only learn about the outdoor industry but to discover New Zealand and intergrate yourself into the kiwi culture. Sure there are some hurdles and challenges to get throw but most of that is on you and your coursemates to figure out how you overcome those hurdles and deal with those challenges. The course itself is pretty simple but requires a lot of self discipline and responsibility. Long days hiking amazing treks, climbing solid rock, learning to cook mediocre to great meals with coursemates as you figure out what it means to be self sufficient and exploring some of the worlds most wild places. You’ll be faced with opportunities to step up or step out of your comfort zone. It’s up to you what you decide to make of it, but everyone is there to support you and encourages you to evolve yourself. Go explore!

What would you improve about this program?
When I was with pure exploration, they were going through some growing pains to say the least but they always have their students best interests and mind and are always encouraging to keep you going. They have doubled down on their curriculum and provide you everything you need to successfully obtain your certifications as well as provide you with some awesome experiences non certification related to keep your stoke high and passions up.


Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

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

Gap Year Association Logo