Diploma in Environmental and Outdoor Leadership Diploma in Environmental and Outdoor Leadership

A-Z study guide
A photo of a girl abseiling.

DiplomaFull-time, 1 year | Part-time up to 3 years

Programme code



February, July





Domestic Applications due

Received all year

International Applications due

2 June for July start


Christchurch - Madras Street

Annual Fees(indicative 2019)


$8,000 - $8,700



Course related costs

Advised before enrolment

About this programme

Acquire a firm grounding in practical outdoor pursuits, environment learning and healthy living for employment or further study.

With our unique qualification exploring concepts of 'environmental interpretation' you will discover the varied ecosystems and climates that are at work in our stunning natural landscapes and develop the critical skills you need for an exciting career in tourism, education or conservation.

In our one year diploma, you will gain a broad educational base in environmental and outdoor education with a unique combination of essential and elective theory and practice.

Areas you will study include: rock climbing and ropes, practical leadership pursuit, teaching and learning; whitewater kayak and sea kayak: practical leadership pursuit; health and physical education foundations; professional practice foundations and applied outdoor leadership.

Note: In addition to the diploma you may also gain at least two industry awards that will be dependent on your electives chosen and these would further enhance employment opportunities.

You will also need to participate in field trips outside of Christchurch and off campus. We will provide you with specialist equipment however, personal clothing and equipment is required and a list will be provided to you on request.

Please check with programme leader for course availability.

Career opportunities

On successful completion of this programme you will be able to seek work as an aspirant outdoor instructor, adventure or eco-tourism guide, or conservation worker.

Study pathways

As a graduate of this programme you will also to be eligible to apply for entry into Year Two of our Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education.

Recommended school subjects

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Physical education
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • Social Studies

Programme structure

To complete this Diploma you are required to complete 120 credits. Please browse the guide below to view the course options currently available within this qualification.

Core courses
Elective Courses

To be a full time student you need to maintain a workload of 120 credits per year. We recommend you talk with us to ensure you choose electives to benefit your future career.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements
  • 12 credits in NCEA English Level 1 and 36 credits in NCEA Level 2.
  • If you have undertaken examinations other than NCEA (e.g. International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Examination), Ara will assess your qualification for academic entry equivalency.

Alternative requirements
  • Still want to study but don't meet the Academic Requirements?

    If you show that you have equivalent skills for tertiary study gained through study, work and/or life experience, you may be able to gain alternative entry.

    Note: The number of courses you have to complete for this qualification may be reduced where you have relevant credits from previous study, or evidence of similar learning or experience in the workplace. Contact Ara for advice.

Additional requirements
  • A current first aid certificate (Red Cross Comprehensive or St John's Workplace) which is current at the time the programme starts.
  • Consent to Disclosure of Information
    Successful applicants will be required to complete a New Zealand Police Consent to Disclosure of Information form depending on their placement. The form will be sent to the Police Licensing and Vetting Service, and returned in confidence to the Head of School. Information on the NZ Police Vetting Service is available from the New Zealand Police website.

  • You must be capable of swimming a minimum of 50 metres, and be able to carry a full overnight tramping pack on multi day trips. You must also submit a log showing that within the last five years you have undertaken a minimum of 20 days of outdoor recreational activity including multi-day activities e.g. camping, tramping or a related activity.

English requirements
  • What if English is not my first language?

    If English is not your first language, we want to make sure that you will be successful in your chosen programme of study.

    Please provide a result from a test or qualification on the acceptable alternatives English Proficiency Outcomes Chart.


    • If you are a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent Resident, complete an Admission and Enrolment form and Ara will contact you regarding a free assessment.
    • If you are not a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent resident, book an IELTS or other test through the Ara Examination Centre or in your home country.

    IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form and are valid for two years from the date of the test.

    What if I have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance?

    You do not need to provide additional evidence of English Language skills.










Acceptable Alternatives Chart

Next steps

To apply for this programme please:

  • complete an Admission and Enrolment Form or an International Application Form
  • provide a log of recreational activity within the last five years

Successful applicants will need to complete a Consent to Disclosure of Information form and hold a first aid certificate which is current at the time the programme starts.

If you don't meet the criteria for entry into this programme, we can help you meet entry level with our foundation and bridging programmes.

Alternatively, if you feel you have gained your learning through on the job experience talk to us about recognition or assessment of prior learning .

Application documents

Credit recognition

If you have work experience in this area, or a relevant prior qualification, you may be eligible for credit recognition towards this qualification.