Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management

Otago Polytechnic

Program Description

Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management

Otago Polytechnic

Why keep your passion for adventure to the weekend? Channel that enthusiasm into a career and get paid for doing what you love!

Embark on this action-packed programme to strengthen and develop your skills in the technical, professional, instructional and leadership aspects of a range of outdoor pursuits. The demand for qualified instructors is increasing due to emphasis on safe participation in sport and a growing adventure tourism industry. Employment opportunities may arise in a variety of outdoor locations within tourism ventures and adventure guiding or outdoor adventure companies. Use this qualification as your ticket to the world and teach activities such as sea kayaking, abseiling, diving, fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, trekking and caving, both here and overseas. Self-employment and seasonal contract work will also allow you the flexibility to move and live anywhere you want; travel, work and play all within the same job!

With the spectacular and world-renowned adventure playground of Otago as your classroom, embrace the chance to work with some of the most qualified instructors in New Zealand. Undertake hands-on industry experience and gain insight into what a career in outdoor pursuits really involves. Focus on goal setting and self-evaluation, gain an understanding of the wider sustainable practices in a global context, develop self-confidence and learn how to communicate effectively. Stimulate your mind and body with a unique blend of theoretical and practical learning and develop close bonds with fellow classmates during field trips and teamwork challenges.

Please note: You will enrol in the Certificate in Outdoor Pursuits in year one, and on successful completion can choose whether to continue into this Level 5 Diploma in year two. Applications will be accepted after the 30 November if places are available.

All certificate and diploma qualifications are currently being reviewed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Qualification titles and content may be altered as a result of the review but any changes will be introduced and communicated over a transitional period so that there is minimal impact on students.

International fee: NZD 18,450 (first year)

Skills required

  • A love of the outdoors
  • An excellent level of health and fitness
  • Good communication and people skills
  • The ability to motivate people
  • A mature approach and good decision-making skills.

Entry requirements

  • You must submit a logbook showing at least 30 hours of relevant outdoor recreation experience.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet diploma-level entry requirements.
  • If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0, with no band score less than 6.0.

Please note: Direct entry to year two is available to selected applicants.

Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identify, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and curriculum vitae.

Selection procedure

All applicants who meet the entry criteria are eligible for selection and you will need to state which is your preferred discipline of study. Applications received after the preferred closing date will be considered if places are available.

Please note: Direct entry to year two of the programme is available to selected applicants.

Additional costs

You will need to supply some of your own equipment during this programme; these are considered to be the 'tools of the trade'.

Please contact the Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure if you require a detailed list.

Further study options

Opportunities exist for you to bridge across into other Institute of Sport and Adventure qualifications. Increase your career prospects with the Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Activity, Health and Wellness) at Otago Polytechnic or the Bachelor of Physical Education at the University of Otago. Special conditions apply and in some cases you will receive advanced standing for these qualifications.

Programme specific risks

You will be required to:

  • Follow instructions
  • Report hazards promptly to lecturers
  • Report incidents (near misses) and accidents
  • Attend the programme in a physically and mentally adequate state and discuss any concerns with lecturers prior to commencing activities.

You will study

The first year of the Diploma consists of discipline specific and fundamental skills across a range of outdoor pursuits. Continue to enhance your skills and knowledge in the second year across a range of disciplines, while developing leadership and instructional skills, and majoring in either white water kayaking, sea kayaking or rock climbing.

Your workload

This is a full-time programme and a typical week may involve between 20-30 contact hours. You should commit yourself to a 9.00am-5.00pm day but these times may vary (especially during daylight saving months). There are field trips throughout the year when you will be required to be away overnight and occasions where you will be away for weekends.

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

Apply by 30 November


What is the minimum/maximum age to apply?

There is no maximum age to apply, provided that you are a genuine student. Usually, students beginning their programmes are at least 18 years of age.

How long will my study take?

Undergraduate degrees are three years, diplomas are usually two years and certificates are one year. Graduate and postgraduate qualifications can take one to two years to complete.

What about international recognition?

All of our qualifications are recognised internationally. You are able to take your Otago Polytechnic undergraduate degree and apply to other national and international tertiary institutions for graduate and postgraduate study.

How much can I earn as a student?

Those students who are eligible to work while studying may get causal jobs in areas like hospitality or other service industries. Your hourly wage is likely to be between NZD$13-15.

What do I need for my student visa?

Your Otago Polytechnic Offer of Place letter. This letter means you have been accepted to study. It also states your course fee, which you must pay first to your nearest New Zealand embassy, consulate or immigration office. You will then receive a receipt of payment from us. You must submit these two documents (your Offer of Place and your receipt of fees), along with evidence that you have sufficient funds for living expenses, and a return international air ticket or evidence of sufficient funds to buy one, to your nearest New Zealand embassy, consulate or immigration office.

For programmes longer than 24 months, you will also need to provide very recent medical and x-ray certificates. If you are over 17 years of age, you will need a police certificate to show that you are of good character. See the New Zealand Immigration website for more details.

Streamlined visa applications now open!

If you are an international student who will apply for your student visa from outside of New Zealand, you might be eligible for the streamlined visa process offered by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). This allows your visa application to be processed faster by INZ because Otago Polytechnic nominates you as a suitable candidate (INZ will decide the outcome and the processing time).

Once you have received your Offer of Place from Otago Polytechnic, you may apply for a streamlined visa nomination letter from us. For more information and to submit an application, click here.

What happens when I finish my degree?

Students who have completed their degree in the normal time and have a job offer related to their studies can apply for a work visa for another two years. This entitles you to work in the job you have been offered, and may help you qualify for residence.

What about applying for New Zealand residency?

If you meet the requirements of the current immigration policy in New Zealand, it is possible for you to apply for residence at any time. Immigration policy encourages students who have completed their degree in New Zealand to apply for permanent residence.

Is there an application fee?


How long does it take to apply?

We suggest you apply at least three to four months before your programme starts so that you are organised to arrive on time.

What do I need to include in my application?

Your English language test results: IELTS, TOEFL or TOIEC. We also require certified copies of any academic results you have from your overseas high school or university. We may also require your curriculum vitae or a portfolio, depending on your programme entry requirements.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated October 23, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Feb. 2018
Mar. 2018
2 years
Full time
18,450 NZD
New Zealand - Auckland
Start date: Mar. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
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New Zealand - Cromwell
Start date: Mar. 2018
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New Zealand - Dunedin
Start date: Feb. 2018
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Feb. 2018
New Zealand - Dunedin
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Mar. 2018
New Zealand - Cromwell
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
New Zealand - Auckland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
NZD 18,450 (first year)