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Info for Overseas Guides


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. Commercial rafting within New Zealand is governed by the legislative body of MARITIME NZ. They administer the Rule Part 80, which is currently under review and due out in draft form as Rule Part 81.

This has been drawn up in consultation with the NZ Rivers Association. Companies are audited annually to make sure they are complying with these rules by a Maritime NZ Auditor in association with a Maritime Safety Advisor who specialises in the rafting industry.
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

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

To monitor that standards are kept to a high quality, Skills Active have appointed
Registrar's, who are people who are current and working within the
industry. Registrar’s access the standard of Assessors, who in turn assess a guide to the Unit Standard level. Each year these Registrar's and Assessors meet to discuss standards and maintain currency.

A data base is held on Skills Active’s website of current Guides and Assessors.

Links to these pages are:
Guide Award Database www.nzrrp.co.nz
List of Assessors www.nzrrp.co.nz

The New Zealand Rivers Association's purpose in addition to being an
industry spokes body is to assist with River Rescue training to maintain currency. We do this by running two River Rescue workshops each year, one in the North Island and one in the South Island. 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.

As you are most probably aware, the standards for NZ Rafting and a raft
guides qualification in NZ is considered to be of the highest level and is
now at a very professional standard. Something that the industry is proud of
and we are continually working to maintain and develop these high standards.

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.

Below is an outline of our system.

Licenses come in 5 types:
Grade 2 guide - Unit Standard 21282
Grade 3 guide - Unit Standards 12407, 26512, 26513, 26514
Grade 3 senior guide (trip leader grade 3) - Unit Standards 12407, 26512, 29513, 26517, 26518, 26514 and additional first aid US424
Grade 4/5 guide - Unit Standards 12407, 26512, 26513, 26515
Grade 4/5 senior guide (trip leader all grades) - Unit Standards 12407, 26512, 29513, 26517, 26518, 26515 and additional first aid US424

The requirements for each of these levels can be viewed by the link below.
National Raft Guide Awards
For more information on Unit Standards Click Here

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.

With all this in mind raft guides know about where they’d be comfortable to be assessed once getting to NZ. Assessments are done on the job (or can be organized privately, dependant on work situation etc) and cover all guide specific areas - Rescue, Boat skills, trip management. Guides also need to have a current first aid certificate.

You can get a list of our companies off our website from the companies page or by going to the Rivers pages and select the area of NZ you are keen to come to, check out the rivers in those areas, grades etc and then contact the companies listed that operate on those rivers.

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.

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