If you are looking to come to New Zealand from overseas and obtain work as a guide it may help to understand the operating system for commercial rafting within New Zealand.

To commercially guide in New Zealand a guide must hold a NZ Guide Award to the grade of the river they intend to raft.

Commercial rafting within New Zealand is governed by the legislative body of MARITIME NZ. They administer the rafting industry regulation (Rule 81) which governs all commercial rafting operators.

Click here for a link to view Rule Part 81.

Skills Active (Sport Fitness Recreation Industry Training Organisation) are the
body which administer the Guide qualifications. These qualification
standards are to Unit Standards and have been created in consultation with the New Zealand Rafting Association.
Click here to view Guide Award Qualifications

The New Zealand Rivers Association’s (NZRA) purpose in addition to being an
industry spokes body is to assist with River Rescue training to maintain currency.

NZRA runs two River Rescue workshops each year, one in the North Island and one in the South Island usually during the month of November.

These workshops are a meeting of guides at various levels, to which they practise rope work/knowledge and systems. River rescue focus’s on hands on, time pressure, comfort zones and these are put to practise in scenario type situations on the river. They are a requirement for any guide to obtain a Senior grading at grade 3 or 4/5 level which enables them to be a Trip Leader and for a Senior guide they must participate in River Rescue training every three years to maintain their senior award.

The rescue course is a good starting point on your journey to gain a New Zealand raft guide award as there are many highly experienced and helpful people on these courses who can point you in the right direction.

It is best that you get in contact with an assessor or NZRA prior to arriving in NZ to arrange your assessments.

You may have an overseas qualification, this is good for a NZ Assessor to know, however you will still be required to be assessed to NZ Unit Standard level and obtain a NZ guide award to commercially guide on NZ rivers.

Most foreign guides get a position with a rafting company before arriving, then go through the assessment process based on their experience levels to get their licenses. This is the easiest way to get into the system and they will assist you in organising an assessment.

Raft guide qualifications and pathways

Grade 2 guide

Grade 3 guide

Grade 3 senior (trip leader grade 3)

Grade 4-5 guide

Grade 4-5 senior (trip leader all grades)

Everything depends on your prior work history and what grades of rivers you’ve been running and for how many years etc, references from employers and logbooks are a good thing to have as well as this gives you solid backup/history of rivers and your work experience etc.

 Guides also need to have a current first aid certificate.

For those with little experience the alternative is to contact Polytechnics, such as Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, CPIT, or Tai Poutini Polytech who provide rafting as a part of their overall outdoor recreation curriculum.

If you require any information or help feel free to contact us

If you already have a NZ raft guide qualification and current first aid give us a call and we will see what we can do for you.