There’s no doubt we love a good hike here at We Are Explorers. But what would it be like to work as a hiking guide? Is the ultimate job waiting for you out there on the trails? We spoke to Cassie Harrison from Women of Wander to find out.

Cassie’s love of the outdoors is what led her to work as a hiking guide across Australia and New Zealand. It also inspired her to start her own business – Women of Wander – that runs hiking and canoeing tours for women with a health retreat twist.



Talking to Cassie, it’s clear that working as a guide is a great experience.

‘You get to be hiking for a job, canoeing out in these beautiful places, working with some amazing people. I’ve made really good friends through guiding and outdoor leading.’

But it’s not without its challenges. With Cassie’s years of experience and current role – running her own business and recruiting guides – she’s the perfect person to give us the low-down on what it’s really like to work as a hiking guide.

Following Your Passion for the Outdoors

Cassie grew up feeling at times more comfortable in the outdoors than anywhere else. Camping trips with her family sparked a love of the outdoors. Then, a five day hike in the Victorian Alps as part of her school’s outdoor education program helped her find her place.

‘It really sparked something in me. It was probably the only moment in high school where I felt comfortable.’

After leaving school she looked for an opportunity to get work in the outdoor space. A three-year Outdoor Education course seemed to be the perfect option. Not only is an outdoor qualification a fun way to study, but it provided her with the qualifications she needed to start working in the industry and later start her own business.

Where to Find Work as a Hiking Guide

Fresh out of the course, Cassie found casual work in Victoria with school outdoor education programs. At the time that was the main work on offer in Victoria for outdoor guides. But she quickly learnt that to work as a hiking guide she needed to be prepared to leave her home state.

Luckily for Cassie she loved the opportunity to travel and discover new places while working. From the Larapinta Trail to New Zealand’s South Island – getting paid to travel and discover these places was the ultimate adventure.

It wasn’t until she came back to Victoria and wanted to continue working that she found there really wasn’t an avenue for it.


Creating Your Own Hiking and Outdoor Tours

For Cassie, the lack of hiking guide work in Victoria became an opportunity rather than a dead end. She set up her own hiking and canoeing tours – with a little inspiration from mum.

‘I used to take my mum out on trips with me just as a bit of a catch up ‘cause I was away all the time. She’d come wherever I was and do a bit of a trip… and she absolutely loved it and was just constantly asking to do more.’

Cassie did a trial run with her mum and her mum’s friends – and it proved there was an excellent opportunity waiting.

‘Everyone finished that trip just feeling really great and kind of frothing on the outdoors, wanting to do more.’


Nurturing a Community of Like-Minded Adventurers

Cassie’s tour company Women of Wander was born in 2018. Specialised hiking and canoeing tours for women – with a health retreat twist. Think fresh, organic plant-based meals, sleep sprays, and herbal teas.

But building a connection to nature and each other is part of the experience as well.

‘Our guides really hold space for connecting with others on the trip, eating together, and contributing to the group.’

Most of the tour members stay in touch with each other afterwards – catching up again as a group, or coming back to try other tours.

Now that Cassie has taken a step back from guiding to focus on the other parts of her business, she has the task of employing guides. And while qualifications are necessary and experience is important – it seems they’re not the only credentials needed.

‘If they are drawn to the health retreat aspect, and connection, and being with women, that is a massive tick for me.’


How to Find Your Dream Job as a Hiking Guide

While it may seem like a dream job – being paid to be out on the trails – it doesn’t come without some challenges. Depending on where you live, you’ll most likely need to be prepared to travel for work.

For many hiking guides it’s not unusual to split your time between multiple destinations each year. Working away as a guide you also don’t get to control your own schedule, or choose what you eat.

As Cassie puts it ‘you’ve gotta be open to letting guiding be your life’.

However, her advice is that choosing the right company to work for can make all the difference.

‘I would encourage doing your research on who you work for and really finding companies that align with your values. They’re definitely out there.’

So what are you waiting for? Start researching!


FAQs About Becoming a Hiking Guide

What qualifications do I need to be a hiking guide?

Entry level work as a hiking guide will require you to hold a Wilderness First Aid certificate. Then, depending on the activities you’ll be leading, you may need other qualifications, such as a Flatwater Guide qualification for canoeing. For Cassie, the three year Outdoor Education course covered a range of qualifications for various activities.

What assumptions do people make about working as a hiking guide?

According to Cassie, some people make an assumption about hiking guides being hippies.

‘Which is kind of true if your definition of hippy is caring about the environment.’

‘Guides are quite eco-conscious and they try to promote that to the people who come on the trips. You do become an ambassador for how to be outdoors – especially for people who haven’t done trips before.’

Can I make a living as a hiking guide?

It’s possible to make a living as a hiking guide – if you’re willing to put in the hours and potentially live the nomadic lifestyle. Without prior experience you’ll likely need to start as an entry level guide, but you can work your way up from there.

A common progression would be to step up to a role as a Senior Guide or Lead Guide. From there the progression is generally to step off the trails and into an operations role, or work as a Outdoor Education teacher at a school – or even start your own business like Cassie.