Kiwi Wilderness Course - Details

Alpine Guides’ 5-day Kiwi Wilderness course introduces trampers and hikers to the 'bushcraft' skills needed to safely plan, prepare, and execute their own trips in the great New Zealand back country.

This is a key course to up-skill your outdoors knowledge in order to independently explore the many unique opportunities our country has to offer, beyond the 'Great Walks' of NZ.

Trekking in New Zealand is challenging. For a small country we experience extremes of weather, have temperate rainforest, dense bush, and rapidly changing conditions.

With our relatively low population anywhere in the back blocks is remote, and you need to be able to make the right decisions without support.

The Kiwi Wilderness course is perfect for ‘occasional’ trampers and up-and-coming hunters to reinforce their “bush lore”. 

It is ideal for overseas visitors to prepare for their own adventures in New Zealand’s wild places.

Course Goals

  • Provide a realistic NZ backcountry learning experience
  • Plan and achieve moderate multi-day backcountry trips
  • Develop the confidence and skill set to explore our natural environment independently
  • Learn basic survival and “comfort with less stuff” skills

Course Outline

The Kiwi Wilderness course runs over 5 days. It will involve camping out (weather permitting) with a combination of self-made shelters - using common survival equipment such as tarps and bivouac/bothy bags, back country huts, or tents.

You will learn the key elements of trip planning, preparation and tailoring equipment to suit the situation. The majority of the time is spent in a beautiful wilderness/sub-alpine location in the Mackenzie/Mount Cook Region.

Experience And Fitness Required

Previous multi-day bush-walking/trekking experience and a high level of aerobic fitness is desirable. You must be prepared for and comfortable hiking with a backpack – up to 15 kg – each day. 

Most days will include at least 3 to 4 hours of hiking with a pack, and longer days of 6 to 8 hours walking are common.

Lean bush-lore from the professionals

Topics Covered

  • Trip Planning and preparation
  • Choosing the right equipment
  • Movement skills in differing terrain including bush and valleys, through to the open tops, and rough ground like scree slopes. We include the fundamentals of appraising and crossing streams and rivers.
  • Emergency shelters
  • Map reading and navigation, with map and compass, and GPS use
  • Cooking, food and camp management
  • New Zealand weather, how to interpret weather maps - understanding weather systems and weather map interpretation are core skills
  • First aid - including stabilisation of varied situations, appropriate procedures
  • Emergency response: intentions, and Epirbs, environmental awareness, and small party remote emergency responses.

Close to any outdoor recreationalist’s heart is ‘what’s for dinner’. During this course you will learn to feed yourself and trip-mates well, with a variety of fresh and pre-prepared meals.

You will also learn to identify safe native food sources. When safe to do so, starting and managing fires (and cooking with them) will be covered.

Of course, the whole point of wanting to know these great skills is to get out and enjoy New Zealand’s wonderful outdoors!

Course Venues

The course will run in some of the South Island’s most special and remote locations such as: 
  • The Temple Valleys - potentially crossing Gunsight Pass
  • The Hopkins, Huxley, or Dobson River valleys
  • Freehold Creek with up-and-over options into the Maitland or Ahuriri valley

We will run in any weather, as this is part of the experience. Back country huts may be visited in ‘interesting’ weather patterns.

Prices and Inclusions 2016/2017

Cost: NZ$1,500 per person

The course fee includes:

  • Guides fees
  • All meals (including snacks and energy bars)
  • Hut fees if required
  • Camping gear
  • Local transport
  • Free use of a range of technical equipment
  • Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the course
  • Mountain Safety Council Bushcraft Manual 

Maximum Bookings

All scheduled courses are limited to a maximum of 12 participants. The maximum guide to participant ratio is 1:6.

Minimum Bookings

The course is based on a minimum of 3 participants. We guarantee to run the course you are booked on, with the following modifications:

  • Two people only: in the unlikely event of only 2 people booking we will shorten the course to 4 full days.
  • If only one person books you have the option of participating on a 1:1 basis with your guide - priced at NZ$3,925. Alternatively, we will cancel the course with a full refund. 

We will keep you informed if other bookings have not been made inside of 4 weeks of departure.

We think that shortening courses with low numbers, rather than cancelling them, is the best service we can offer. This minimises any affects on your travel plans, and still provides a great experience.

Private Courses

If the dates do not work for you - contact us about arranging a private course.

Private courses can be arranged at any time (mid-October through April). You can choose dates (subject to guide availability), and tailor the content to your specific requirements, to a maximum of 12 participants and 2 guides. Contact us for pricing details.

Reporting Details

All courses begin at 08:30 on day one and finish at 17:00 on the final day at Alpine Guides office in Mt Cook Village. Check on public transport options to Mount Cook.

Daily Organisation

Every course we run is unique. Fixed day-to-day schedules are not realistic when dealing with a dynamic environment

Instead, we work around prevailing weather and conditions to provide the most comprehensive coverage of all the course topics. 

Day One

After meeting your teammates and guide, the first morning involves an outline of the course, an equipment check, discussion of weather and venue for the week, and organising any rental equipment. 

We will then load up and drive to the trail head before the first 2-3 hours on foot.

The drive from Mount Cook will take about 1.5 hours.

Days 2-4

Expect to be in the bush for up to 4 nights of the course, travelling and covering course topics, working around the prevailing weather and conditions.

Day 5

We returning to Mount Cook on the afternoon of day 5. This allows for a "debrief" and meal at a local Mt Cook watering hole.

Accommodation is provided on the final night, unless you have plans to leave – or want ‘upgrade’ to more luxurious accommodation.

Your Guides

Guides on the Kiwi Bushcraft Course are IFMGA/NZMGA professional mountain guides. They have bushcraft background appropriate to the range of skills required for the Kiwi Wilderness Course. Many have worked with tertiary providers in outdoor pursuits education.

Equipment and Clothing

Please let us know what gear you need to rent - including any equipment supplied free of charge.

Our gear list caters for all eventualities. Sometimes you may not require everything on the equipment list. Weather and conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed for your course. Any gear not required will be stored at our base in Mount Cook.

Temperatures, weather, and conditions will vary. The course is designed to work around these changes.

Make a Booking

We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.

For private courses please contact us in advance to discuss suitable dates and guide availability.

Alpine pass crossing - Gunsight Pass - Temple Valley.