Pro­duc­ing guardians as well as guides

Adventure - - Fiordland Adventure -

In 2015, Jackie Lee Lof­fley-Wil­son had a ‘whoops’ mo­ment that led to her first job as a raft­ing guide. The 18-year-old and her fel­low NMIT class­mates were pad­dling the Buller River when a rapid swept her over­board and she plunged into the swirling white­wa­ter be­neath.

“I put my­self in what’s known as the ‘white­wa­ter float po­si­tion’. I put my nose and toes in the sky and I man­aged to get on the top of the rapid.”

Jackie threw her pad­dle down to the next boat, saw another raft edg­ing closer and jumped into it. Then, in a feat of per­sonal strength, Jackie ran across the raft and, in her words, ‘su­per­man dived’ back onto her raft. “My tu­tor was like ‘pull over Jackie, pull over. Are you al­right!?’

Jackie was shaken but un­per­turbed and wanted to keep go­ing. They re­joined the group back up the river. Tim Mar­shall, one of Jackie's tu­tors, looked at her, and in a stern voice said, ‘come here’. “I was like ‘oh no, what have I done?”

Much to Jackie’s sur­prise, Tim of­fered her a job as a raft­ing guide, then and there. “He saw that I was able to think un­der pres­sure.”

Pre­par­ing stu­dents to man­age risk is what the Level 5 Diploma in Ad­ven­ture Tourism is about. From start to grad­u­a­tion, the en­vi­ron­ment is your class­room. The ra­tio is 75% field time to 25% class­room based the­ory - a much higher pro­por­tion than most in­sti­tutes.

Cour­ses in­clude: sea kayak­ing, white­wa­ter raft­ing, rock climb­ing, canyon­ing, bush tramp­ing and more. There is a full ski pro­gramme em­bed­ded into the diploma too. It is the most com­pre­hen­sive of its kind in New Zealand, en­com­pass­ing more than gen­eral ski pa­trol, and the ski­ing takes place up at Porters ski field in Can­ter­bury.

“We aim to pro­duce guides, not just recre­ation­al­ists,” in­sists Sam Russek. Sam is the Ad­ven­ture Tourism Co­or­di­na­tor for NMIT and a kayak guide at Abel Tas­man Kayaks.

“We want you pad­dling harder and raft­ing and tramp­ing harder, but we want you to be able to look af­ter peo­ple as well. You need to be able to com­mu­ni­cate, man­age risk, and help peo­ple. The ser­vice side of ad­ven­ture tourism is strong.”

For Jackie, show­cas­ing New Zealand and de­liv­er­ing a great ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple is what she is here to do. Af­ter her touch and go ex­pe­ri­ence on the Buller River, Jackie spent the sum­mer work­ing for Tim who owns Ul­ti­mate Des­cents.

“It was cool work­ing with peo­ple who are still ‘teach­ing’ me to bet­ter my­self as a guide. Tim started as my tu­tor and then be­came my boss which made it feel so easy. I see him as some­one I look up to...some­one I want to be like as a guide, but also have my own spark of Jackie-ness.”

NMIT has close re­la­tion­ships with

in­dus­try across the coun­try. “We’ve all worked in the in­dus­try and are very in­volved still,” says Sam. “I’ve been a sea kayak guide and school teacher around [Nel­son] and up North. We know ev­ery­body. Two of the tu­tors own ad­ven­ture tourism busi­nesses. Todd Jago owns Waka Abel Tas­man and Toby Wild owns Moana NZ SUP. None of our stu­dents strug­gle to get jobs at the end of the pro­gramme.”

The pro­gramme has a 100% suc­cess rate when it comes to se­cur­ing work af­ter grad­u­a­tion - a fig­ure sus­tained since 2013.

Jackie is at home in her cur­rent role as white­wa­ter raft­ing guide for Tongariro River Raft­ing. She had no trou­ble se­cur­ing the job and loves the new chal­lenge. “The rivers are on dif­fer­ent scales. This one is more tight and tech­ni­cal which has helped me so much in my guid­ing.”

The now 20-year-old rel­ishes the chance to share her sto­ries of greater Taupō re­gion with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tourists. But the ex­pe­ri­ence runs even deeper for Jackie who is of Ngāti Whakaue de­scent. She feels at one with the river and is deeply aware of the need to pro­tect it for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“It’s very per­sonal and close to me, be­ing of Māori ori­gin."

Jackie was im­pressed with the at­ten­tion given to tikanga Māori and kaiti­ak­i­tanga dur­ing her time at NMIT. “I re­ally re­spect that they in­ter­twine that into the course be­cause ev­ery­one of us is show­cas­ing New Zealand and peo­ple come over, not only to ex­pe­ri­ence the coun­try, but to ex­pe­ri­ence the cul­ture.

“They def­i­nitely em­pha­sise toitū te whenua - the seven rules of ‘leave no trace’. Leave the land as you found it, have re­spect for the land and be thank­ful that this is all here. Leave it to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to en­joy as well.”

Learn more: nmit.ac.nz

Cer­tifi­cate in Ad­ven­ture Tourism, Level 4 – start 5 Fe­bru­ary 2018, one year full time Diploma in Ad­ven­ture Tourism, Level 5 – start 5 Fe­bru­ary 2018, two years full time (or one year to com­plete, fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the Cer­tifi­cate in Ad­ven­ture Tourism)

Jackie in ac­tion as a raft guide

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