Why you should work as an instructor in Queenstown

22nd August 2017


If you haven’t heard of Queenstown then get ready to put it on your bucket list. For intrepid travelers and holidaymakers alike, it is a beautiful haven of adventure sports. Here in the summertime, you’ll find hiking, mountain biking, bungy jumping and much more… not to mention the fact that in the winter time, it is all about SNOW. There are two main resorts close to Queenstown, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. These snow-capped resorts are world renowned and visitors flock to the slopes year after year.

This is where those tasked with helping these skiers and snowboarders improve their skills come in. The instructors. Now I’m sure all of you think this job is incredibly glamorous and it is…. to an extent. You’re out there on the snow, looking at the appreciative face of someone you’re essentially hanging-out with on their holiday. It is then that you realize that yours is the coolest office in the world. That part is very true but what about the parts they don’t tell you. Here are our top 10 things you didn’t know about ski/snowboard instructors:

Winters are addictive
I remember in my first season in Whistler, Canada talking to a colleague and he laughed at me when I said I was just here for 5 months and then would be heading back to university. He said to me “wait till the bug hits you”. He wasn’t kidding. My 5 months extended to 9 and by the time I made it back to university, the next winter season was fast approaching and I couldn’t resist heading away for another one. Long story short, don’t get ready for 1 season… Get ready for a few! 

If you’re not teaching, you’re not getting paid
Unlike the lifties and those on the guest services desk, you only get paid when you are teaching a lesson, not when you’re waiting around the resort for a lesson. I guess this is because you can, in fact, use this time between lessons for your own free-skiing!

The school holidays are so busy that you may even end up working 6 day weeks!
With the nature of the job, a lot of instructors work 6 days weeks over the school holidays and then take lots of days off later in the season so they can just free-ski every day of the week if they like.

You need to be ready for a few frustrating days 
Teaching can be frustrating when you have a 5 year old child that cannot listen… or a 50 year old child that cannot listen (Trust me, there’s those too) however the rewards to seeing someone’s light up when they’ve suddenly got the hang of things is huge.

Training is amazing!!
Has there ever been a time when you’ve gone to school and thought…. Ugh! This is not fun. Training on the mountain is learning yes but trust me – IT'S FUN! You progress very quickly and can learn how to assess your own skiing and even improve yourself with a bit of practice.

The hours are great!
Normally lessons don’t start for an hour or two after the resorts opened and of course, resorts close around 4/5 pm so you will never be working too late. What does this mean for you? A morning session of skiing in last night’s powder dump of course and a beer after work with your snow mates!

Speaking of mates, your EA mates will become friends for life!
All of the EA team are there for their first winter season experience so you’re in it together. The friends you make there with be with you forever. You could even go on a road trip together after the season spending the money you’ve earnt through your winter. 

It pays to carry double of things
I’ve learnt to start wearing gloves with inners and carrying a pair of sunnies in my pocket. People will. And I repeat. They will turn up to your lesson without the essentials like gloves and goggles. It pays to have back-ups literally up your sleeve.

You will work hard and play harder rain, sun, hail or snow
Be it -20 degrees, pouring rain or spring skiing in t-shirts you will be out there so be very prepared to dress for the occasion. Have a great set of goggles with a few lenses to change with varying conditions, buy Gortex gear if you can and have a set of thermals to add or take away when those temperatures are changing.

Get familiar with the ‘comfort zone’ and how to read where someone’s comfort zone is
Sometimes even just a change of scenery can push your clients too far. I had this happen to me once when in an in instant my client went from a great skier to a frozen skier who couldn’t move a muscle. In horror I watched her take off her skis, hand them to me to hold. I thought - I’m the worst instructor in the world, my student is going to walk don’t the slope. She didn’t do that though. No, she was way too sassy for that. Instead, she proceeded to slide down on her back, pulling poses like a model lying on a couch the whole way down. Her daughter and I were in fits of laughter. She made it to the bottom of the incline, put on her skis and we continued the lesson.

I learned three things that day. Firstly, every lesson is different and just because it is non-standard doesn’t mean it wasn’t a success, secondly, lessons can change in an instant and even if someone is a strong skier, the head plays a major part and finally, lesson are fun! You are hanging out with people on their holiday, giving them tips and tricks on how to improve…. so in essence, when you’re a ski instructor, you’re just on one big holiday!

If you want to join your future EA mates on the slopes this winter and have that season long holiday then follow this link to download your instructor starter kit today.

 Need Proof? Check out this sweet video from our 2017 NZ Interns in Queenstown