Becoming A Ski Instructor in New Zealand

With the southern hemisphere ski season now upon us, The Skiing Department recently caught up with Snowskool, a UK based organisation that runs ski and snowboard instructor training programs in several countries. Snowskool have outlined the pathway to full instructor qualification grading through the NZSIA (New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance) system.


For anyone looking to gain their ski instructor’s qualifications or participate in one of the many ski instructor courses on the market today, it is first of all important to be able to negotiate the veritable maze of qualifications and regulatory bodies out there. And although we have the ISIA aiming to provide equivalency between all these different organisations at the higher levels, it’s hard to know the difference between the lower level qualifications.

Ski instructor teaching line of skiers

Photo: Snowskool ski instructor with trainees

Ski Level One

Duration: 4 Days
Skiing Standard: Candidates must be able to confidently demonstrate short, medium, and long radius parallel turns on most ski area terrain.

This 4 day entry level ski instructor qualification allows successful candidates to teach beginner and advanced beginner skiers. During the course candidates will be continuously assessed on their technical skiing ability with the teaching assessment taking the form of a 30-minute long lesson on the final day. Candidates’ technical and teaching theory knowledge will be assessed by a written test.

Ski Level Two

Duration: 8 Days
Skiing Standard: Candidates must already hold the level one qualification or a foreign equivalent qualification. Candidates must be able to ski dynamically both on and off-piste and demonstrate a basic short turn.

The 8 day ski level two qualification allows successful candidates to teach up to advanced-intermediate standard skiers (basic parallel). The course includes teaching progressions from wedge turning to parallel turns with a pole plant, biomechanical skier analysis, and advanced technical theory.

Candidates’ ability to analyse skiers and plan a lesson is assessed through a video clip followed by a discussion with two examiners, while technical skiing ability is formally assessed during the final three days of the course. On the final day candidates’ teaching ability is formally assessed through a 40-minute teaching presentation given to other members of the group.

Ski Level Three (ISIA)

Duration: 5 day pre-course, 3 day exam.
Skiing Standard: Must hold the level two qualification or foreign equivalent

Upon successful completion of the level three course candidates will be able to teach all levels of skier up to advanced/experts. Split into a five-day pre-course preparation and a 3-day exam later in the season (or the following season if so desired). The aim of the pre-course is to introduce teaching progressions for advanced/expert skiers and for off-piste sessions, it also aims to give direction to candidates’ training before the exam as well as provide further technical knowledge.

During the three-day exam candidates’ technical skiing is assessed based on their quality of demonstration and both on/off-piste free runs. The teaching component is assessed through a presentation to other members of the group to last a minimum of 40 minutes. Lesson planning and skier analysis skills are assessed through a video clip followed by a discussion with two examiners much the same as they are in the level two. Technical knowledge is further assessed through a 30-minute discussion with two examiners.

NB: In order to gain their ISIA stamp successful candidates of the Ski Level Three must have the following – Avalanche Certification, Second Language, First Aid Qualification, and a crossover course or second discipline.

About the Author: SnowSkool has been operating ski instructor courses and snowboard instructor courses in Canada, New Zealand, France, and the U.S.A since 2003.

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Rob has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 25 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Rob is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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