True Tales of Great Barrier Island 2016

Hillary Outdoors_Sir Ed

Hillary Outdoors were fortunate to be asked to contribute a short story to be included in the book True Tales of Great Barrier Island 2016. The piece was written in collaboration between our Marketing Coordinator Andie Johnson and Rupert Wilson, who was a key member of our Board of Trustees for over 25 years, at one point holding the role of chairman. Below is an excerpt from this short story.


A new era for Hillary Outdoors (OPC)

On 25th March 2006, Hillary Outdoors (or OPC as it was back then) was officially opened with great fanfare. The Prime Minister at the time, Helen Clark, and the original patron of the organisation, Sir Edmund Hillary, were in attendance along with over 250 other supporters. However, few people at the opening event knew the trials and tribulations that led up to that momentous occasion. It wasn’t exactly plain sailing from that point either, as this true story reveals what happened with one of our most prized possessions – The Lady Hillary – the boat that was initially intended to be the mother ship for our water based activities on Great Barrier Island.


By the late 1990s, the Trustees of OPC felt that OPC’s mountain based Tongariro Centre had expanded as much as it could, with accommodation for over 100 young people. It was identified that very few schools in South Auckland attended any form of outdoor education. A marine based centre would complement our Tongariro Centre. The Hauraki Gulf was the obvious solution with its proximity to Auckland. However, Karaka Bay on Great Barrier Island (GBI) was the fifth Hauraki Gulf location pursued by the Board of Trustees, after being enthusiastically led down the garden path by the Regional Council and DOC over locations at Tawharanui Regional Park, Mahurangi East, Kawau Island and finally Motu Kaikoura Island, which all ended in brick walls, some of which came in from left field at a very late stage.


After 18 months of going nowhere fast, trustees were tipped off while exploring the Motu Kaikoura Island possibility, that there might an opportunity at Karaka Bay in Port Fitzroy. On reflection, the Trustees should have trusted the wisdom of their Patron. At the very outset, when the Trustees had consulted Sir Ed about where he thought a second Centre should be, he said “well, it should be on Great Barrier” in a very matter of fact manner! Great Barrier Island was one of Sir Ed’s favourite places, as he had spent time exploring it on family holidays in his childhood…



To see what happens next in the story and to read more tales about Great Barrier Island, purchase a copy for yourself from this website.