AGL Skill



5+ Days


Maximum 1 : 4

Equipment List

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From $2,165 NZD


Private Instruction

Alpine Guides Private Instruction package offers tailored group mountaineering instruction, ski mountaineering, and mountain guiding. We can look after your group of friends, or professional team needing a specialised alpine training program.

Guiding or "Instruction" - it's your trip

The Private Instruction (PI) package is your trip and we will tailor the trip and objectives to suit your experience and aspirations. It is an ideal package for a group of friends on a mission. Private Instruction also suits a small team where ability levels in the team vary. 

Private Instruction Advantages:

  1. You decide on the emphasis/objectives of your trip

  2. You choose the dates, and the duration of your program - subject to guide availability

  3. Works with groups of varied experience levels

  4. Can be scaled up for larger groups

  5. Our most cost-effective program at the 1:4 ratio

During summer we can arrange a PI course similar to our Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC) or Alpine Skills Course (ASC), but tweaked to better suit your needs. During winter the PI program is perfect for alpinists who want to develop leading skills on ice and mixed routes, or use it for an introduction to Ski Mountaineering (or on snowboards/split boards)

We look after people of all backgrounds - from high school students to hardcore military teams, and clubs training for Himalayan objectives.


What's included:

  • Free use of our range of technical gear

  • Professional NZMG/IFMGA mountain guide

  • All meals and snacks

  • Aircraft flight in to in the mountains.

  • All hutt an National Park fees

  • Accommodation from day one to finish

  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual

Not included in price:

  • Cost of flight out 

Experience Required

A high level of aerobic fitness and previous tramping/bush walking experience is expected as you will carry a backpack each day and a heavier pack on long days. Prior alpine (snow and ice) mountaineering experience is not required. Read more about fitness for mountaineering here.

Private Instruction Details

+ Trip Itinerary

Every Private Instruction program is unique. We will discuss a general plan for your trip when going through the booking process.

When dealing with a dynamic environment it is best to take a flexible approach and avoid fixed day-to-day schedules. Your guide will work around prevailing weather and conditions, to get the most from your time.

After meeting your guide, the first stage is an equipment check and sort, then follows an in depth discussion outlining your trip, and the mountain venue, given the outlook for weather and conditions.

At this stage your guide may advise on a revised plan if conditions and weather do not suit our initial plans. We always reserve the right to modify schedules to best suit the conditions at the time.

You will fly into the mountains at the first opportunity.

Instructional days will begin at around 07:00. When climbing on good weather days you may have “alpine starts” - perhaps as early as 03:00, if tackling a longer ascent. Most day's activities will have you out for 8 to 10 hours.

During any poor weather you will be busy with rope skills, theory, and practical - using instruction venues close to the hut. You also have the option to just relax – it’s your trip.

We aim to have you back in Mount Cook Village by late afternoon on the final full day.

+ Winter or Summer Mountaineering

The summer season (November – April) in New Zealand offers the best conditions for alpine climbing, and is the best time for introductory-level mountaineering.

Winter (July - October) is a great time for more experienced alpinists, especially if you want to refine and develop your ski mountaineering, mixed, or ice climbing skills.

Winter presents different challenges for climbers and ski/snowboard tourers - potential deep snow and avalanche risk can make some routes/peaks inaccessible.

Read more about seasonality, weather, and snow conditions here.

+ Guide to Participant Ratios

The PI program runs at a maximum of a 1:4 guide/participant ratio. The objectives for your trip will dictate the ratio required - appropriate for the terrain, and technical standard.

At the 1:4 ratio we can run programs similar to an Alpine Skills Course. The PI package pricing is the most cost effective at this ratio.

For an experienced team with specific (or more challenging) objectives the ratio can be 1 to 3, or 1 to 2.

For groups with 5 or more participants, more than 1 guide is required.

+ Why a 5-day Minimum

The Southern Alps has a temperate, maritime, alpine climate. Longer guided tripd offer a better chance of your venture being successful, in the event of some bad weather.

Also (and importantly) access and egress by foot from many mountain venues can take more than a day, each way. Walking in/out needs to be done in “reasonable weather.” The time to get in and out from your venue must be factored into your trip duration.

The skills covered in an instructional situation require time to learn and to practice in the real and serious mountain environment. We always recommend an appropriate duration for your trip during initial correspondence.

For summer instruction courses we recommend a duration of 7 or 8 days. During winter in cooler temperature, a 5 or 6 day duration suits most peoples' objectives.

+ Egress from the mountains

Two means of egress are available at the end of the trip: walking/skiing or flying out. Flying out is the most common choice. Please - ALWAYS BUDGET FOR A FLIGHT OUT, even if you want to walk.

1. Flying out at trip end

Most PI trips fly out of the mountains. It maximises time spent on climbing and instruction and avoids an extremely arduous trip that must be done inside the allocated time.

The cost of flying out is ADDITIONAL to the trip fees.

Range of costs possible: NZ$180 to NZ$520 per-person. Typical average cost: NZ$230 to NZ$300 per-person

See here for more details on aircraft use.

2. Walking out at trip end

Walking (or skiing/walking in winter) out is the most physically demanding part of a trip, and must be done inside the allocated time. In some situations (due to weather, conditions, and fitness) it may not always be possible to walk out.

Your guide is the final arbiter on whether a walk out will go ahead.

Read more about walking out options.

+ Ski Touring and Snowboard Hire

If your winter PI requires ski/snowboard gear, you should hire your rig prior to arrival. We have a handful of sets of aging gear - for emergency hire only!


Wanaka - MT Outdoors

Queenstown - Small Planet


+ Why take a course at Aoraki Mount Cook?

Because Alpine Guides is based in Mount Cook National Park, you will not be driven for hours to and from your starting point. We are right amongst the action.

The course price includes aircraft access and exit flights to maximise your time in the mountains.

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park offers:

  • Some of NZ's highest peaks (some over 3,000 metres) from NZ Alpine Grade 1 through 3 and beyond.
  • Snow and ice, mixed, and alpine rock peaks to test your mettle.
  • Ice climbing on the glacial seracs in summer.
  • More settled weather than the neighbouring West Coast

We also guide right through the Southern Alps, including Westland, Mount Aspiring, the Remarkables, and Fiordland regions.

+ Mountain Hut Venues

Private Instruction is normally based from one of several mountain huts across Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Prime venues are:

  • Barron Saddle

  • Grand Plateau

  • Tasman Saddle (2 huts)

If the weather is settled we may intead fly across the Main Divide to Pioneer or Centennial Huts.

Read more about mountain hut living conditions.

+ Equipment and Clothing

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

Choosing your clothing and Seasonal Variation

Our gear lists cater for all eventualities. Sometimes you may not require everything on the equipment list your guide will help you sort though your kit at teh start of your trip. Weather and mountain conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed.

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

Read more about seasonality, weather, temperatures and snow conditions here.