Private Instruction Details - 2018/19


The Private Instruction package is a framework for tailored guiding/instruction trips, or pure climbing missions into the high mountains. With a minimum of 2 participants Alpine Guides will design a flexible program that works equally well for either a summer or winter mountaineering trip.

For a trip focused on just climbing (little or no instruction), Private Instruction is the ideal way to use your professional guides’ local knowledge. Of course, your guide will be happy to instruct as well as guide (when appropriate) along the way.

Alpine Guides are the experts in the Mount Cook/Westland area. We also guide right through the Southern Alps, including the Mount Aspiring, Remarkables, and Fiordland regions.
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

The PI option often suits military personnel or outdoor professionals looking to extend their mountain-craft. You may want to stay close to the format of one of our scheduled courses (like the TMC or SMC), or to focus on particular aspects of climbing/ski mountaineering technique.

We will discuss trip feasibility, guide ratio, and the duration required for a successful mission. We are always happy to discuss any options you have.

Prices - valid to 30 April 2019

Prices | 2018-19

All prices are per-person, in New Zealand Dollars

  • The maximum guide to client ratio is 1 guide to 4 participants
  • For trips with 5 or more participants at least 2 guides will be required


  • Guiding fees
  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual 
  • All meals (including snacks and energy bars) 
  • Aircraft access
  • Hut fees
  • Local transport 
  • Free use of a range of technical equipment 
  • Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the trip

 Not Included
Cost of flight out of mountains. See Egress From The Mountains below for more details.

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 one to 4 ratio we can run programs similar to a Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC). 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 duration?

Abseiling off Mount Annan.

Abseiling off Mount Annan.

The Southern Alps has a temperate, maritime, alpine climate. A longer guided trip offers a better chance of your trip 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 the correct and 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 6 or 7 day duration suits most peoples' objectives.

Booking Private Instruction

Your guide will work around your travel plans (subject to availability). The first step is to contact us with your proposed dates ›

“Walk-in” and short-notice enquiries usually cannot be filled. We recommend making reservations well in advance for Private Instruction.

Reporting Details

Unless otherwise arranged, the trip will start at 08:30 at Alpine Guides base in Mount Cook Village, and finish at 17:00 on the last day of your trip. A morning start makes most effective use of time, allowing you to fly into the mountains by lunch time.

Alternatively, we can arrange to start at 13:30, and finish at 12:00 noon on the last day, to better fit in with public bus services ›

With a 13:30 start it is less likely you will fly into the mountains on the first day. Please double-check that you choose the right start time on your booking form.

If you arrive in Mount Cook on the day before your trip begins, your guide will probably not be available. Our office staff will be happy to answer any questions you have. Your guide(s) will look after equipment rental, and other gear requirements at the start of your trip. This takes on average 2 hours.

Read more about transport to Mount Cook.

Mountain Huts

Most often (if not camping/bivying for a specific objective) you will be based out of one of a number of mountain huts maintained by the Department of Conservation or NZ Alpine Club.

Read more about mountain hut living conditions.

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.

Trip Daily Organisation

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.

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!


Equipment and Clothing | Private Instruction

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

Choosing your clothing | Seasonal Variation

Our gear lists cater 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.

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

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

Make a Booking

Book online here using a credit card or by bank deposit.

  • Please ensure you have talked to us about guide availability.
  • We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.