What skills will I graduate with?
The learning outcomes that will be achieved by graduates are:
- Identify and communicate potential avalanche hazards by applying knowledge of snowpack, weather, terrain and avalanche phenomena (30 credits)
- Mitigate risk to self by selecting and applying appropriate control methods while operating in avalanche terrain within scope of practice - (5 credits)
- Participate as part of a small party rescue by applying appropriate avalanche search and rescue skills while mitigating risks - (5 credits)
- There are no academic entry requirements for this programme.
- You must be able to demonstrate evidence of basic ability to use avalanche transceivers, shovels, and probes through a document signed and dated by a graduate of this programme (or recognised equivalent programme at this level or higher) stating that you meet the following criteria:
- techniques for the correct and efficient use of a transceiver are demonstrated
- a buried transceiver is found in accordance with timeframes and depths specified in industry good practice.
English Language requirements
- If English is not your first language, you must provide:
- New Zealand University Entrance OR
- Overall Academic IELTS 5.5 with no individual band score lower than 5.0 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR
- Acceptable alternative evidence of the required IELTS (see here for NZQA proficiency table and here for list of recognised proficiency tests).
If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.
Online learning requirement
You will require access to online computing facilities to undertake the distance learning packages.
Please note: It's highly recommended that you are capable of safely negotiating all mountain terrain and snow conditions normally encountered at a ski field in an alpine environment. If you're unable to do this using skis or a snowboard, please apply for the intake above that states that it's for those that don't yet have this ability. To successfully complete this programme, you also need adequate fitness and skill to move quickly over all snow conditions to perform a rescue and dig out of an avalanche victim (potentially metres deep in the snow).
- If you don't meet the entry requirements, there are a number of recreational level courses (historically, at least four days' in length) available worldwide that will provide the base-level of rescue skills required.
After the entry level requirements have been met, selection is based on a first-come, first-served basis until the maximum course numbers have been met.
You will need to provide your own personal outdoor wear and means of mountain transport suitable to a winter alpine environment. This may include adequate footwear, touring skis, split-board, climbing skins or snowboard/snowshoes and poles. A daypack capable of carrying your daily needs is also required (30-40 litre capacity).
Although it is helpful for students to have their own avalanche safety gear and snow/weather observation kits, they may be provided by the Polytechnic upon request. You will be required to pay your ski pass – these are usually available at a significantly discounted rate.
The programme is twelve weeks in length. There are ten weeks of online, self-directed study prior to the practical sessions. There are then seven days of practical work up to twelve hours in length (similar to that of working in industry). The final week is available for any re-assessments that may be required and to complete your reflective journal.
Further study options
This qualification can lead to the New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 6) with optional strands in Advanced Avalanche Hazard and Mitigation Planning, Advanced Avalanche Forecasting and Data Management, Advanced Avalanche Search and Rescue Planning, and Avalanche Education.
Programme specific risks
You are advised of the programme specific risks posed during the block courses. These include injury or death from avalanche, environmental exposure or ski touring/motor vehicle accident.
Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful.
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.