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New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 5) Otago Polytechnic

New Zealand



Course info


Study professional avalanche risk management with the most experienced provider of avalanche education in New Zealand, in the heart of the Southern Alps.

This course provides the first level of professional training available, enabling participants to work in all sectors of the avalanche industry.

During this course, you will firstly gain a sound understanding of underpinning theory in your own time. You will then move into solidifying these concepts in a supportive group setting during the on-snow/classroom sessions.

The course is 12 weeks in length. Ten modules will be delivered via online study for ten weeks. This will include 5, live online study sessions to answer questions and refine concepts. During this ten-week period, you will also be asked to practice on-snow skills. You will then undertake one week of practical and assessment and then have one week of reflection during which you will evaluate your next steps and complete any re-assessment as required.

Graduates may be employed or work as volunteers under (direct or indirect) supervision, in a range of operations actively assisting in the management of avalanche hazard and risk including: ski areas, heli-ski operations, cat-skiing operations, snow-mobile operations, road contractors, alpine and other outdoor guiding and instruction operations, hunting, trekking, Department of Conservation, alpine search and rescue, and education providers.
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)

Your workload:

The programme is 12 weeks in length. There are 10 weeks of online, self-directed study prior to the practical sessions. There are then seven days of practical work up to 12 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.

Location: Online with Wanaka-based practical

Delivery: Classroom, online and on-snow practical study

Duration: Twelve weeks including ten weeks online learning, one week practical and one week reflection (and re-assessment if required)

Course options

Here are the different ways in which you can study New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 5).

Online/Distance with attendence (12 weeks)

Tuition fees

NZ$7,860.00 (4,19,079) per year


07-Jun-21, 12-Jul-21


Otago Polytechnic

Dunedin Campus,

Forth Street,


North Dunedin,

9016, New Zealand

Entry requirement for international students

There are no academic entry requirements for this programme.

Learners must be able to demonstrate evidence of ability to use avalanche transceivers, shovels, and probes.

Competence may be evidenced by a document signed and dated by a graduate of the New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 5) OR recognised equivalent, OR higher graduate stating that the learner meets 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.

Online learning requirement: You will require access to online computing facilities to undertake the distance learning packages.

IELTS test: General or Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5; TOEFL paper based test (PBT): Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE); TOEFL internet based test (IBT): Score of 46 (with a writing score of 14); Cambridge english qualifications: B2 First or B2 First for schools with a score of 162. No less than 154 in each skill; Pearson test of english (ACADEMIC): PTE (Academic) score of 42 with no band score lower than 36; Language Certificate: B2 Communicator IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS and no less than Pass in each skill

Until start date

* Please check with your chosen school for the exact entry requirements for your programme.

Want to study this course?

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