Trainee Nature & Birdwatching Guide


Seasonal - October to April) - must be able to work for the full length of this period to benefit from training time.

Preference will be given to applicants who can commit to two seasons because of the training involved. 

  • Opportunity to work and live in Stewart Island / Rakiura away from the crowds.
  • Be part of a small positive team where your contribution matters.
  • Experience varied work and develop new skills.
  • Attend some of our tours, see wildlife, nature and stunning scenery.
  • Interact with visitors from around the world. 
  • Receive training about our location, nature, wildlife, history and customer service.


Train to be a guide on our overnight hikes on the Rakiura Great Walk along with some of our day hikes.  Provide excellent customer service, quality interpretation, healthy meals and snacks. Maintain client enjoyment, well-being and safety whilst on the hike. 

Subject to aptitude and skills assist on our kiwi spotting night time tours to ensure excellent outcomes. 

Drive clients safely and comfortably in our vehicles to and from hiking and trip destinations.  Assist as driver guide on our scenic and birding road tours, providing an enjoyable quality experience.  

LOCATION: Stewart Island / Rakiura  

Stewart Island is a largely unmodified Island, almost entirely in wilderness, except for Oban Township and the surrounding 28 kms of road.  Approx. 400 people live here permanently. 

Daily flights occur to / from Invercargill, with daily ferry services to / from Bluff.  Locals and residents receive a discounted service on both forms of travel. Some of our key amenities include: a restaurant, cafes, grocery store, library, garage, tourist booking offices, museum, Department of Conservation visitor centre, nurses clinic, volunteer fire brigade, golf course, community centre / gymnasium, kindergarten, primary school. 

Stewart Island is a wonderful place for anyone who thrives in a semi-remote location, enjoys nature and the outdoors. The are opportunities to, hike, fish, dive, hunt along with a variety of indoor activities. 

Accommodation is limited in Stewart Island. We aim to source accommodation for our staff. 


Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience is a small owner / operated nature tourism business, operating entirely in Stewart Island since 2000.  Our customers are New Zealanders and internationals from over 40 countries.  We are Qualmark endorsed. The business was started by Furhana who works full time in the business as the key guide and in a multiple number of other roles.

During the past busy season we have had up to 3 staff and 1 casual - mainly seasonal. During the off-season we have been operating with one staff.  As international markets open up again, and demand increases, we are seeking to employ several permanent and seasonal staff.

Nature, wildlife and the environment are our key focus and trying to operate sustainably.  The business actively seeks to develop a positive team, with supportive, caring, reliable and competent staff, so that our customers are able to undertake our tours and, get the best possible attention and service we can offer.

The tours we offer are shown on: 

Aihe Wildlife Cruises & Water Taxi is the boat owned by the business to provide a water taxi service for its guided tours and for independent customers as well as boat cruises.

The business operates a small outdoor shop (located within the booking office), retailing and hiring outdoor clothing and equipment.

We operates all year round, however, the majority of the work is highly seasonal,  driven by visitor demand.  Key tourist months are October through to April / May. 


  • You will report to and provide support to the Owner / Operator.
  • Your ability to train as a competent guide on our overnight hikes and some of our day tours, ensuring customer enjoyment, wellbeing and safety will be an important contribution to the business and allow more of our tours to run. 
  • Your ability to enhance customer experience by engaging them in nature, the environment and topics of their interest will help create memorable tours, increase customer satisfaction, improve feedback and recommendations for our tours. 
  • Your dedication, attention to details, time-keeping will ensure the smooth running of trips. 
  • Ensuring that all assets and equipment are cared for and returned in good condition, and available for the next trip will ease our work. 


The role carries a high level of responsibility, requires maturity, confidence and good decision-making.  It requires essential skills and attention to detail.  An outgoing friendly personality are essential as well as a high level of customer service.

Please note:

  • Training will be provided, but you will also be required to put some of your own time into learning. 
  • Travel for some guided trips is mainly by vehicle, boat and fixed wing plane.  You will need to be comfortable in all forms of transport.


You will be trained to undertake a particular tour / tours based on your experience, knowledge, skills, qualifications and aptitude:

  • Rakiura Great Walk (day and overnight hikes) 
  • Mason Bay to Freshwater River (day and overnight hikes)
  • Ulva Island (limited subject to skills / qualifications)

Additionally basic training in food hygiene and food preparation will be provided. 



Work will mainly be on the Rakiura Great Walk. Initially the you will work with the Owner with the expectation that you will guide a small group on your own and / or with a support guide during the second season. 

Pre Tour 

  • Receive instructions from Office Staff.  Liaise with team members, regarding tour logistics.
  • Assist with trip planning including preparing, maintaining and completing appropriate records in a legible and timely manner.
  • Where relevant, supervise Support Guide 
  • Help prepare and pack food and equipment
  • Attend / provide clients with trip briefings 
  • Any other reasonable pre-tour tasks

During Tour

  • Assist in providing quality interpretation on fauna, flora, ecology, conservation and cultural history.
  • Provide wildlife and nature observations regularly during the tour. For Mason Bay - Freshwater River trips, help in carrying out kiwi spotting observations. 
  • Provide clients with all necessary assistance during the walk
  • Help prepare and serve meals, snacks, hot drinks
  • Help clear-up and clean ensuring huts and campsites are left clean and tidy
  • Assist in carrying out radio scheduling with the office. 

After Tour 

  • Assist clients to their accommodation venues / departure points.
  • Help unpack, clean, check and store equipment.
  • Liaise with other team members as required
  • Complete and submit all relevant paperwork 


This will mainly be on the Rakiura Great Walk, with some guiding on Ulva Island (if you have good knowledge of New Zealand flora and fauna and are a birdwatcher).

Key tasks relevant to day walks are noted above in the overnight hikes. 


  • Carry out any other reasonable task to support the business.



Minimum 35 hours, increasing with demand to 40+ hours when overnight hikes are conducted and subject to demand. 


As a tourism business we are required to work during the key tourist months October to April.  Staff are not required to work on Christmas Day and may get some other public holidays off work along with their regular statutory days off.  


  • Environmental education would be an advantage (e.g. zoology, botany, geography etc.), or an interest in the outdoors
  • New Zealand hiking experience desirable
  • Current First Aid (valid for at least 12 months at start of employment)
  • New Zealand drivers licence with passenger endorsement is desirable
  • Leadership skills
  • Fluent and accurate spoken and written English with good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent customer services skills (friendly and outgoing) - sensitive to customer needs. 
  • Safety conscious with good risk management skills
  • Ability to cook well and present well
  • Good time management, punctual
  • Attention to detail
  • Able to multi-task
  • Resourceful.


You must be in excellent health with a good to high level of physical fitness with no illnesses, injuries or medical conditions that may affect your ability to carry out your duties including walking, hiking, lifting and carrying of packs / gear and equipment.. 

Our weather is variable. You need to be comfortable working in varying conditions from cool to cold, mild to hot, dry or wet, calm or windy conditions etc. 

Personal presentation and hygiene are important in this "front of customer" role. Staff are provided with a uniform. Non-smokers preferred. 

Due to booking patterns and late reservations, at times we can be busy, at other times it can be slow.  Flexibility and a positive “can do” attitude is helpful, along with willingness to help with reasonable tasks when work may be slow.


We are professional and hard working, focussing on quality, small group tours with opportunities for customers to interact as individuals. We are not a mass tourism business. 

Our priority is to provide excellent customer service, to maintain high standards and ensure the safety and well being of staff and customers. 

A positive working environment with a loyal team are essential to our success. Each team members is encouraged to be understanding, kind, supportive and loyal. Honesty is important for along with communication.

The business fosters a genuine appreciation and respect for our environment, its nature and wildlife through tours that have a high educational content.  Sustainability is important for us. 

Our tourism industry can be challenging and competitive, at times we are very busy due to peak bookings and / or last minute bookings. On other days we may have quieter times to get other work done. Whatever, our day brings we encourage everyone to work together to get any essential work done.


  • The opportunity to learn - you will do and see more.
  • The opportunity to go on some of our tours.
  • Opportunity to develop into other roles with more responsibilities subject to skills and aptitude.  


To set up a time to discuss the job vacancy or for an application form, please email: