Education at Hillary Outdoors goes beyond the boundaries of classrooms and subject areas and takes learning into an environment rich in opportunity

Nau Mai Haere Mai ki te Whare Wananga o Hillary Outdoors

(Greetings and Welcome to the Learning Facility of Hillary Outdoors)

Please note, our minimum age for students at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro is ten years. Groups with students younger than ten can be accommodated at Hillary Outdoors Great Barrier.

Hillary Outdoors provides the ultimate New Zealand experience. In putting his name to the organisation (formerly The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, or OPC), Sir Edmund Hillary, the great explorer and first man to conquer Mt Everest, quipped that OPC (now Hillary Outdoors) provided the best outdoor learning environment available – a truly unique combination of environment and education.

Hillary Outdoors provides opportunities for youth throughout New Zealand – and for international youth, to come and experience this learning environment. Students walk away from Hillary Outdoors knowing more about themselves, their environment and their place in the world.

Hillary Outdoors Education Philosophy
Contributing positively to the life journey of young people through rich outdoor learning experiences that develop care and respect for self, others and place

Learning is underpinned by:

  • High expectations
  • Relevant and authentic opportunities for learning and leadership
  • The Treaty of Waitangi
  • Sustainable relationships with people, communities and the Earth
  • Safe and supportive learning environments
  • Inspirational educators

We believe the outdoors allows powerful opportunities to develop:

  • Self – Resilience, self-management and values
  • Place – Ecological literacy and care
  • Others – Skills in leadership and working with others
  • Thinking – Problem solving and reflective practice
  • Skills – Outdoor recreation skills
Hillary Outdoors And The New Zealand Curriculum
Hillary Outdoors’ learning outcomes are directly aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum Key Competencies. Our learning environment and outdoor activities are rich in opportunities to deliver outcomes from a range of Learning Areas, in particular Health and Physical Education. Our Education Coordinator and Programme Managers can work with you to develop a programme of work from your classroom to ours.

Feedback from teachers and parents indicates that on their return students:

  • are more confident
  • are more likely to take on responsibilities at school and at home
  • are more inclusive; they have seen and accepted their own and others’ strengths
  • have more positive relationships with their classmates, teachers and others
  • participate and contribute more in the school and local community
  • are more self-reliant
Added Extras
Most of Hillary Outdoors’ activities are run at a 1:10 instructor to student ratio. Please see for more details. A few of our activities require a higher level of staffing, or the use of external experts, and so incur a larger charge.  The following activities will be charged at an additional rate:

  • Snowsports day (Tongariro in winter – run in partnership with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts)
  • White water rafting grade 3 (Tongariro – run in partnership with Rafting New Zealand)
Hillary Outdoors is accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) under the provisions of the Education Act 1989. Our scope includes providing education and training based on the Outdoor Recreation Sub-field levels 1-6.

This means Hillary Outdoors is able to provide training and/or assessment of unit standards in personal development, leadership and hard skills.  We provide teachers with resource packs and PowerPoints to reduce the pressure of preparing teaching materials.

If necessary, we will work with you to develop a programme of study which will include classroom work, sessions in your local area and one or more away trips. prior to, and whilst at Hillary Outdoors.

Please note, for Unit Standards offered through Hillary Outdoors, as a guideline;

Level 1 – suitable for Year 11 students (and in some cases Year 10)
Level 2 – suitable for Year 12/Year 13 students
Level 3 – suitable for Year 13 (and in some cases Year 12)

One credit is equal to ten hours of notional learning (directed by teachers/instructors), practice (self-directed/on task), and assessment time.
A maximum for a standard 5 day programme is up to two unit standards, and this will require teaching and learning to be completed in school, prior to, and whilst at Hillary Outdoors.

Unit standard options for levels 1-3