A Bay of Plenty man's dedication to adventure has been recognised at the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association awards.

Kahunui outdoor centre director John Furminger was awarded the prestigious Tall Totara Award for establishing some of New Zealand's most-respected outdoor education programmes.

The Bay man was among nine Kiwis recognised for excellence in outdoor leadership at the annual New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association Excellence Awards dinner at Rotoiti Lodge in St Arnaud on Saturday.

In partnership with his wife Christine over the past 40 years, Mr Furminger had directed outdoor education programmes across the country. These include Tihoi Venture School near Taupo, Motutapu Island's Outdoor Adventure Camp in the Hauraki Gulf and St Cuthberts College Kahunui outdoor campus in the Bay of Plenty.

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New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association chairwoman Gillian Wratt said Mr Furminger's contribution to outdoor education had been described by his peers as "gigantic".

"John is a legendary figure in outdoor education. He and Christine have made an enormous contribution by connecting tens of thousands of young New Zealanders with the outdoors," she said.

"They have also inspired and mentored so many who have gone on to become outstanding instructors themselves."

A new Emerging Guide Award was introduced this year to recognise a guide who displays great potential, talent and a commitment to a career in the guiding sector.

It was presented to Queenstown-based contract guide Cameron Walker for his exploits including a year spent on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, wilderness expeditions in Antarctica and Patagonia, and voluntary alpine rescue efforts in the Southern Alps.

Ms Wratt said Mr Walker was a deserving recipient of the first Emerging Guide Award.

"He has achieved a huge amount in his career already through instructing and has more recently combined this with guiding," she said.

"His dedication has led him to contribute much of his recent free time to training and voluntary rescue efforts."

This year's Emerging Instructor Award was presented to Rata Lovell-Smith, known to her colleagues as Coach Rata.

Ms Wratt recognised Ms Lovell-Smith's amazing technical skills and her ability to inspire people from all walks of life.

"Rata has displayed great ability to connect with people. Her nomination was packed with glowing stories of her ability to inspire people to build new skills in the outdoors," she said.

"She is a shining example of what aspiring outdoor instructors should aim for."

A Tertiary Award for guides and instructors who have shown outstanding potential during their studies was presented to six recipients. These were Jamie Marr of Ara Institute of Canterbury, Tamara Kinast of Hillary Outdoors, Brando Yelavich of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Kevin Burgess of Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth, Aimee Sanson of Whitireia Polytechnic and Michael Edh of Otago Polytechnic.

The New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association Excellence Awards were presented at an awards dinner during the four-day New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association National Training Symposium, held in the Nelson Lakes region.

The symposium was attended by 130 outdoor guides and instructors. It featured workshops exploring a range of professional development opportunities and revalidation for guides, instructors and assessors.