Turn your passion for snowsports in to a career at Central, with the Southern Alps as your classroom. In our stunning Wanaka landscape, you can study programmes in snowsports and adventure.

Seriously into snowy slopes? The demand for qualified instructors is increasing, due to the emphasis on safe participation in sport and a growing adventure tourism industry. Central has the facilities and expertise to help launch your future through our collaboration with Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka.

With our Avalanche Safety programmes, you will be able to apply your advanced knowledge in snow science to ensure the safety of people and assets in alpine areas. The programme is taught by New Zealand’s most experienced and qualified avalanche professionals.

Our Certificates in Snowsport Instruction and Avalanche Safety, and Diploma in Avalanche Studies, are all New Zealand Snow and Avalanche Committee (NZSAC) approved.

Study at Central and enjoy our place of learning in a natural paradise.

New Zealand Certificate in Introductory Snowschool Instruction (Applied) (Level 4) (Ski) or (Snowboard)

  • Wanaka
  • 17 weeks
  • Level 4
  • Starts May
  • Apply until start date

Train in the dry snow of the spectacular Southern Alps and develop skills which could lead to a job teaching skiing or snowboarding in New Zealand or overseas. All classes are taken at the Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka.

New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 5)

  • Wanaka or Methven
  • 12 weeks (10 weeks online, 1 week practical and 1 week reflection/re-assessment if required)
  • Level 5
  • Starts 29 April 2019 (Wanaka option 1 is Full); 10 June 2019 (Methven option); 8 July 2019 (Wanaka option 2)
  • Apply until start date

If you love being in the mountains during winter and have a strong sense of responsibility, become a qualified snow safety professional through this programme.

New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 6)

  • Online with training and assessment in Wanaka
  • Part time study over one to two years
  • Level 6
  • Starts flexible to suit learner (online); Field training-22-26 July 2019 and Integrated Practical Assessment 2-10 September 2019
  • Apply anytime

This programme is replacing the Diploma in Avalanche Studies from 2019. Providing the highest level of professional training available in New Zealand, enjoy the chance to be taught by pros and graduate with the ability to assume supervisory roles in all sectors of the industry.

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Professional development events coming up

Find Learning & Teaching Development staff in the Hub on Thursdays - ready to help with any teaching questions you...

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Midwifery Information Sessions: North Island

Attain a unique and internationally-renowned Bachelor of Midwifery qualification which leads to registration as a midwife in New Zealand.

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Peter Bilous, Programme Manager, Avalanche Safety, Snowsport Instructing

Peter is a fully qualified national and international (NZSIA and ISIA) Telemark Ski Instructor Examiner and past National Divisional Director, Technical Director and NZSIA Executive Committee Member. Peter is also very active in the area of mountain and avalanche safety.

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American Search & Rescue team train in Central Otago

An American search & rescue team affiliated with the US Air Force has spent two weeks in the mountain ranges of Central Otago on a customised avalanche safety course taught by Otago Polytechnic’s Avalanche Safety & Snow Sport programme manager Peter Bilous.

The team, who were looking at avalanche safety training options during the months of July and August, found the programme offered by the Central campus online. They made contact and were impressed with Central’s proposal, which included a professional training plan and a day to day schedule that really stood out as being a well-planned and tailor-made mountain safety programme, perfect for what they were after.

Ryan the team commander said, “We were impressed from the onset with the team from Otago Polytechnics Central campus and the effort they put into making this work for us. They made sure the training was maximised and met our budget. They were also really good at communicating with us to make sure the customised programme would meet the team’s objectives.”

He also said one of the highlights of the programme was spending three nights in the Bob Lee hut on the Pisa range, “Being able to spend time out in the mountain environment and apply our avalanche rescue skills was not only critical to our learning of the material but also a great opportunity for the team to bond together.”

The team of 13 spent time at Cardrona, Mt Pisa range and took part in some glacier based training on the Mt Cook glaciers under the guidance of respected mountain guide Hugh Barnard.

The team will apply their training in a search and rescue capacity when responding to avalanches, or to move safely across avalanche terrain in mountain environments, and hope that the programme could become a regular part of their training.

Ryan added that they will definitely be recommending Otago Polytechnic training to other teams also, “The entire experience has been fantastic, the training Peter gave us was phenomenal, and we are very pleased we chose this programme. Peter has so much knowledge to share and all members of our team have left with much more confidence in their avalanche rescue skills and using these in real world situations. Massive thanks goes to Peter and the staff at Otago Polytechnics Central campus, it has been a wonderful and worthwhile experience for us all.”

After living in Hamilton working in hairdressing and make-up artistry, Kate Bryant decided it was time for a change.

She lived in Alberta, Canada for a year and became a passionate skier. Lliving in the mountains and enjoying the great outdoors helped her realise that she wanted to have that kind of lifestyle more permanently.

Kate chose the Certificate in Snowsport Instructing (Ski) at Otago Polytechnic so she could live in Wanaka, work at Cardrona and devote herself to full-time training. “The best thing I got out of the course was an even deeper and renewed love of skiing. It has now become something of an addiction!” describes Kate.

After graduation, Kate went to Japan and taught ski instructing. "Powder skiing is the most electric feeling and has given me the best moments of my life which I would never have achieved without my instructor training. She also learnt Japanese and secured summer employment as a raft and canyoning guide. “It’s great. I get to spend summer doing so many awesome activities such as kayaking, rock climbing, mountain boarding and hiking.”

For the winter Kate is keen to get back to ski instructing “Who knows what part of the world I will end up in next!”

Jim Young has found his true calling in the mountains, and the Diploma in Avalanche Studies from Otago Polytechnic helped him get there.

After leaving high school, he trained as an automotive engineer, but realised this wasn’t for him. Now he’s working as a ski patroller at The Remarkables – and soon he will be off to Japan to work as a ski guide for the northern winter.

The Diploma programme at Otago Polytechnic’s Wanaka campus, incorporates the NZMSC Avalanche Stage 2 Certificate, a prerequisite for most industry management roles. “Otago Polytechnic is the sole provider of this certificate in New Zealand, my diploma has already opened many doors within the ski industry.” says Jim finding work as a professional ski patroller in Queenstown, Colorado and Canada.

The highlight is gaining the avalanche qualifications from such a well-respected institution. “The programme is run by Peter Bilous,” explains Jim, “who is renowned in New Zealand and North America for producing some of the leading people in the avalanche industry.” Jim is now studying for his NZMGA Assistant Ski Guide qualification “This will enable me to further my scope of work available within this exhilarating industry.

Elke Braun-Elwert was born in Christchurch learning to ski at age two-and-a-half on the back lawn, under the tutelage of her father who was a mountain guide.

After studying a Master of Applied Science at the University of Otago, she has completed the Avalanche Studies Stage 2 programme at Otago Polytechnic. Currently working for Alpine Recreation in Tekapo as a ski and assistant climbing guide, working predominantly in the Mount Cook National Park. She says the qualification has given her “greater awareness and safety in the mountains”.

“I spend a lot of time outdoors introducing people to the mountains that I love. It is particularly rewarding taking up new people who experience the thrill of the mountains for the first time.

“My life revolves around the outdoors. I do skiing in any form I can, including ski racing and ski touring. In 2011 I was lucky enough to be part of the first ascent on the south face of Mount Cook with Marty Schmidt, a well-known mountain guide, who also studied at Otago Polytechnic. Then at the start of 2015 I worked in Japan as a ski guide.

“My goal is to continue guiding and hopefully manage Alpine Recreation in the future.”

Up where you belong

For Otago Polytechnic Snowsport students, the stunning mountains of Central Otago are their classroom – and may even become their future office.

Budding snowsport instructors studying at the Polytechnic’s Central Otago Campus get plenty of applied learning on the slopes of Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka.

“Cardrona has some of the best skiing and riding terrain in New Zealand with one of the biggest ski and snowboard schools in the country,” says the Resort’s Ski and Snowboard School Manager, Rachael Milner. “Otago Polytechnic students train and work right alongside our fantastic staff.”

In a competitive job market, having the work experience and qualifications that these Snowsports programmes provide is a major benefit, and many former graduates have gone on to work at Cardrona Alpine Resort. One of them is Otago Polytechnic graduate turned Ski Instructor, Scott Palmer, who is passionate about his job. “It’s the best classroom in the world!”

“Otago Polytechnic graduates are hard-working, and love the mountains as much as we do.”

Rachael Milner
Ski and Snowboard School Manager
Cardrona Alpine Resort