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So you want to be a guide...

The River industry is an amazing profession that can take you to the ends of the earth (if you're a flat earther).  

Passionate About Inspiring Others? 

It's a job that suits those of us wanting to enjoy the outdoors on the daily and show customers some of mother nature's taonga that can be described as the arteries of the world. In New Zealand we are fortunate to be recognised as world leaders in the rafting industry especially around the standard of guides we produce. This has been achieved by the high standards we set for ourselves to ensure the safest of operations for the industry. 


There are a variety of paths to follow to become a guide but it is going to take determination and focus to get up to speed as fast as possible and allow you to progress, starting with a Grade 2 raft guide award and working upwards to a Senior Grade 4/5 Raft award. 

New Zealand Raft Guide Qualification Requirements


NZRA and Skills Active have worked hard to develop a qualification system that reflects the high quality of guiding required in New Zealand.


To commercially guide within New Zealand, you need to hold

The NZ Raft Guide Qualification is administered by Skills Active, you can find more information here.



In New Zealand we have:

- Grade 2 Raft Guide Award 

- Grade 3  Raft Guide Award 

- Grade 3 Senior Raft Guide Award

- Grade 4/5 Raft Guide Award

- Grade 4/5 Senior Raft Guide Award 

  • Have previous river experience? Yes!  Ask rafting operators about training pathways offered

  • Start with one of our many amazing polytechnic courses below.  

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). Diploma in Adventure Tourism and Guiding (level 5). Short courses offered with a specific 3 week course to gain River Rescue Grade 3 unit standard (31727), and 4 weeks guiding clients to gain National Raft Guide grade II or III.

Or sign up for the full two years to gain experience across the board in rock Climbing, Canyoning, Rafting, River and Sea Kayaking, Skiing or Snowboarding, and in the bush. 

- Tai Poutini Polytechnic. Based in Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island. Certificate in Outdoor Adventure Education and a Diploma in Outdoor Instruction and Guiding is on offer. The courses cover white water rafting as well as other adventure activities and skills needed to be an all-rounded adventure guide. 

  • Start with an operation on a lower grade technical style river to build skills fast. 

  • Develop your skills and look for opportunities offshore through the winter months. 

  • Overtime work your way up to more difficult rivers that will expand your ability. 

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