This popular programme is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills and attributes required to enter the Ski Patrol industry. It is held in high regard by the Heads of Ski patrol within New Zealand and includes a four week placement for students with a real ski patrol department. This is where students compound the skills learnt with their tutors and is probably one of the longest and most fun filled job interviews ever.
The programme has successfully run since 1995 and past students have reached senior, supervisory and heads of department positions within New Zealand Ski patrols. The programme also provides a strong foundation for related careers in the outdoors, including alpine and ski guiding, a variety of summer guiding and/or instruction, ambulance officer, and safety management. It contains both Pre- Hospital Emergency Care and Avalanche Stage 1, both entry level qualifications for many outdoor employment options. On successful completion of the programme some students seek work overseas, before returning to apply for work in New Zealand.
Learning takes place in a realistic working environment and includes practical and theory that is based on identified industry needs. It is a big seven months, chock full of learning, growth, discovery and fun.
All courses are unit standard based and have been designed through feedback from the Ski Patrol, Emergency Care and Snow Safety industries. With the exception of snow blasting, all integrate with each other for the duration of the programme.
Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC)
This course includes the following NZQA unit standards (the nationally recognized PHEC certificate)
25411 Demonstrate knowledge of and use an Automated External Defibrillator
25412 Provide basic pre-hospital emergency care
14473 Move and position patients in preparation for transportation.
Additional PHEC training includes the use of rescue toboggans as well as additional in depth first aid training requested by the ski patrol industry.
Avalanche Hazard Management
This course includes Stage 1 Avalanche (accredited by the NZ Mountain Safety Council), is comparable to the Canadian Avalanche Stage 1 and covers:
Weather and snow pack observations
Snow stability and metamorphism
Avalanche terrain and back country safe travel techniques
Snow blasting for Avalanche control.
This course begins in the distance learning section of the programme and includes
Interpreting weather maps
Taking weather observations
Making safety decisions based on weather.
Ski Patrol Operations
As well as looking at client safety, this course has a strong focus on professional work ethics and behavior. It includes:
Managing personal learning processes
Developing team attributes
Slope hazard management
Emergency response systems
Much of this course is assessed whilst students are on work placement.
Mountain Craft and Rope Rescue
The intention of this course is to become proficient in low span chairlift evacuation, and the basic rope skills required by ski patrol. This course includes:
the basic rope, ice axe and crampon skills needed for general and rescue work
Harnesses and ropes
Knots and anchors
Abseiling and chairlift evacuation
Skiing and Boarding Skills
This course begins with a pre-fitness training program in Term 1 and progresses into Ski or snowboard lessons with the Treble Cone Snow sports school. It culminates in a rigorous ski or snowboard test at the end of Term 3. It also includes the basics of ski touring techniques.
The Certificate in Ski Patrol is a respected programme and provides specialised training in the specific skills required for a first year ski patroller.
Many of our graduates are enjoying successful careers patrolling on New Zealand ski areas as well as ski areas overseas. Other graduates have chosen to establish themselves in the first aid, mountain and ski guiding industry and embark on careers in guiding, back-country touring, emergency care and safety management.
Ski or Snowboard?
Because of safety and timing issues associated with avalanche control work, as well as the importance of holding a high traverse line, the majority of ski patrols do not employ snow boarders.
Applicants must meet the following criteria:
Applicants for whom English is a second language must meet IELTS (or equivalent) Level 5.5.
Have successfully completed NCEA Level 2 (or overseas equivalent) with a minimum of 8 credits in English and a minimum of 8 credits in mathematics
Be over 18 years of age as of May 1st of the year they enter the programme to meet the requirements of the test certifier issuing the approved handler test certificate for snow blasting .
Verification by a New Zealand Ski Instructors Alliance (NZSIA) certified ski or snowboard instructor, or an appropriate ski patrol supervisor who has been pre approved by one of the program tutors that the applicant meets or exceeds NZSIA level 5 in skiing or snowboarding (or proof of overseas equivalent).
Hold a first aid certificate valid for the duration of the programme and including unit standards either 6400, 6401 and 6402 Or units 26551 and 26552 (reported to NZQA) (or proof of overseas equivalent)
Once the entry criteria have been met by the applicant, the program coordinator will interview the applicant to establish how well the applicant meets the Selection Criteria as listed.
Prior work experience in the Snow Sports Industry (paid or voluntary) especially volunteer ski patrolling or trail crew.
Prior general experience in outdoor activities e.g. downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, tramping, mountaineering or rock climbing.
A strong and confident skier who is able to continuously ski black runs at a snow sport area all day.
Skier rather than snowboarder.
When the number of applicants who meet the entry criteria exceeds the number of positions available, applicants who meet more of the selection criteria than other applicants will be given priority in selection.
Special Entry may be granted where evidence exists that the applicant can successfully complete the programme. Prospective students are advised to discuss this with the Programme Co-ordinator.
This is intended as a guide only. A complete equipment list will be included in your enrolment pack. Personal equipment costs will vary depending on what you already own.
You are required to provide the following essential equipment:
Skis or snowboard and bindings
Avalanche probe and snow shovel
Sturdy alpine or tramping boots
Ski touring equipment
Snow shoes or split boards (snow boarders only)
Skins (for skiers or users of split boards)
Clothing suitable for the New Zealand mountain environment
Tai Poutini Polytechnic supplies the use of following equipment for training:
This programme requires that a Questionnaire be completed in addition to the enrolment form.
We are based in Wanaka, only 40 minutes drive from the Treble Cone ski area where training in the practical elements of the programme take place. Our ski-to day lodge on the ski area is our classroom and is used by students for shelter, equipment storage and lunch preparation.
Equipment used and carried is what you would expect to see in any professional patrol. Students are supplied with a distinctive patrol vest. Our classroom is equipped with a basic ski-tuning bench and tools, and various other training aids.
Excellent rock climbing, mountaineering and five amazing ski resorts are within ninety minutes drive of Wanaka. Wanaka is also home for worldclass mountain biking, fishing and other outdoor activities.