World-class adventure tourism course reestablished
Rotorua’s adventure tourism industry is set to take off thanks to the reestablishment of a world-class training course.
The Adventure Tourism Course, originally run for 20 years by the Waiariki Institute of Technology and later by Toi Ohomai, has produced a huge amount of talent and has been one of the main reasons for making Rotorua one of the world’s leading adventure tourism destinations.
The course has been on hiatus for three years, but a new generation of students will breathe life into the industry once the course is back up and running in March 2022.
Canopy Tours General Manager Paul Button says Rotorua has many unique attractions and the geography here lends itself to being an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
“There are activities like rafting on the Kaituna waterfalls, mountain biking in the Whakarewarewa forest, activities in the trees like Canopy Tours and the Treewalk as well as activities on the lake with jet boat, sea kayaking and stand up paddle.
“Over the past three years, the destination has been crippled by a lack of trained outdoor leaders to support this popular and rapidly growing adventure industry,” Button said.
In an effort to combat this, a group of 20 Adventure Leaders worked with Toi Ohomai to fill the workforce gap created when the Adventure Tourism course ended in 2018.
Button was one of the driving forces to get this course going again.
“Rotorua is a magical place and has so much potential to provide the best visitor experience in the world. Over the years we have seen fewer and fewer people from Rotorua apply for our guiding positions and we have had to travel to New Zealand to recruit from other outdoor schools and polytechs. Our best employees come from Waiariki and Toi Ohomai, they are professional, highly skilled and passionate about their home.
“Currently, we have six graduates employed and one is part of our management team. There was something special about this adventure tourism course and the people who taught it, I’m so glad we got it back, ”Button said.
“There is no reason why every guide we employ should not be from Rotorua and this course.”
The course is part of the Sports and Recreation portfolio, led by Ruth Naidoo, who has worked alongside industry leaders to create a curriculum focused on teaching the skills the industry needs to employ graduates.
She says the recovery of the course is exciting and she looks forward to seeing her students fill the local workforce shortage of outdoor leaders.
“It’s exciting and inspiring to work with the 20 industry reps,” says Naidoo.
“It’s humbling to see the passion within the industry, they are determined to make this course a success and help their industry thrive for years to come. They are committed to being hands-on and supporting students during internships, field trips, and even classroom activities.
Naidoo says world-class tutors will teach this course and inspire students.
“Nikki Kelly is a world champion in rafting and extreme kayaking, and Stevie Walls has worked in the tourism industry for 20 years and is also a veteran New Zealand touch player. They bring the perfect blend of excellence in teaching and real life experience.These guys are really positive role models for our rangatahi.
The course aims to provide the best possible courses and the key to its success will be making the most of the world class products that Rotorua has to offer. Business operators who have worked with Naidoo range from longtime companies Skyline Skyrides, River Rats, Zorb and Velocity Valley, to new start-ups such as Paddle Board Rotorua and NZ Whitewater Academy.
NZ Whitewater Academy co-founder Rob Collister said they were 100% committed to making the course a success.
“These students will be our future leaders and employees of the outdoors. I don’t see a future without them.
The course is now called the NZ Certificate in Outdoor and Adventure Education. It will include kayaking, rafting, rope work, mountain biking, bush skills, sustainability, hospitality skills and much more. The course will teach the stories of Rotorua and integrate Tikanga Māori throughout. It opens as a Level 4 course, but will have scope for Level 5 and a degree path in the future. Registration is open and the course starts in March.
Learn more about the New Zealand Certificate in Outdoor and Adventure Education.
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