Everything you need to know about climbing on our Adventure Guide Programs

Everything you need to know about climbing on our Adventure Guide Programs

Our prospective students often ask us if they can still join the New Zealand Adventure Guide Program if they don’t have any climbing experience. In this post we will take a deep dive into the climbing portion of our New Zealand program and walk you through how our awesome instructors will turn you into a climbing pro!


  • The answer to this is yes! There is no requirement to have any prior climbing experience before joining the New Zealand Adventure Guide Program, many of our students have joined the course with little to no climbing experience and absolutely aced their NZOIA Rock Leader Assessments.
  • Our instructors are highly qualified and experienced, they have spent years fine tuning their skills teaching people to rock climb and we have complete faith in their ability to turn you into an awesome climber and climbing guide.



Week 1:

Your first week of rock climbing will be all about the basics. It will be the first time your instructors get to see you in action and their main focus will be on making sure everyone is operating in a safe way.

You’ll cover everything from how to correctly fit harnesses and helmets to tying clove hitches and figure of eight knots. You will learn to belay using a variety of different belay devices and practice safe lowering techniques. Most importantly you will spend lots of time on the rock, climbing and getting to grips with some of Queenstown’s best crags.

Our Adventure Guide Programs operate at a small student-to-instructor ratio. Your instructors will spend time with each person individually, helping you work on your climbing techniques and improve your own personal climbing skills. Whether you are just climbing your first easy New Zealand Grade 14 (USA 5.7) or pushing your limit on some of Queenstown and Wānaka’s more challenging climbs like the iconic Headbangers Arete (NZ Grade 17/USA 5.9), by the end of week there is no doubt you will be a more confident and competent climber!


Week 2:

Now that everyone has a strong grasp of the climbing basics you will start to learn more advanced climbing techniques. While spending time climbing, you will get to grips with how to clean routes (remove the rigging) and safely abseil back down. You will learn how to use a prusik to keep yourself safe in a variety of different situations and begin learning clifftop safety and how to efficiently set up top rope anchors and rig your first top rope climbs.

This might sound like a lot of information, but our instructors will break everything down into bitesize digestible sessions, making sure everyone has time to absorb each new skill!


Week 3:

By week three you will already have covered most of the skills required for your NZOIA Rock Leader Assessment. Overseen by your instructors, you will be rigging most of your own climbs and be starting to work on lead climbing and some basic rescue techniques. You will cover lead belaying and practice lead climbing by ghost roping, by the end of the week you will be confidently leading and filling your logbook with cool routes!


Week 4:

Week four will be all about consolidating your skills. You will revisit all of the more technical skills you have learned while still getting in plenty more lead climbs. You’ll spend plenty of time at the venues where your client days and assessments will be taking place so you are as prepared as can be. By the end of this week you will be a fully competent and confident climber, ready to guide introductory climbing sessions.


Week 5:

During climbing week five you will get the chance to put your learned skills to the test and run your own climbing sessions with real clients.

This might sound a little daunting, but don’t worry, your instructor will still be there to supervise, helping you out and answering any questions that you may have. 

If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Program Advisors. We run Adventure Guide Programs in New Zealand, Nepal and Patagonia.