Hillary Step Scholarships

Hillary Outdoors developed the Hillary Step Scholarships in 2011 as a way to work with schools where affordability is an issue.

The scholarship programme ideally works with a minimum contribution from each student of their own money towards their 5 day programme at Hillary Outdoors. Hillary Outdoors works alongside school staff, students, and parents to raise the additional money.  We seek support from a range of funding partners, including Pub Charity, and help schools apply for grants. If appropriate, we also talk to potential corporate sponsors and local businesses with an interest in seeing our youth heading in the right direction, introducing them to our Community Sponsorship Programme. This programme allows corporates to sponsor Hillary Step Scholarships enabling students to attend our programmes.


To qualify for a Hillary Step Scholarship the students must be nominated by their school and recognised by their teachers and peers as ‘good kiwi kids’.

The schools must be a decile 5 or below (with preference given to Deciles 1-3 schools) where affordability of outdoor education is a barrier to attending a Hillary Outdoors programme.

Students and schools that are sponsored will acknowledge any assistance by writing with details of what they achieved through their Hillary Step Scholarship.

Hillary Outdoors Tertiary Programme Scholarships for Maori Students

Hillary Outdoors is offering two scholarships to students identifying as Maori for a place on either of our Tertiary programmes. The scholarship will cover 50% of their annual tuition fees for either the Year 1 Certificate or Year 2 Diploma course. After submitting their course application, students who would like to apply will need to submit a letter to the Hillary Outdoors Tertiary Administrator explaining their Maori Heritage, why they need a scholarship and what benefit it could bring to themselves and their Iwi.

Applicants should contact Tui Brabyn, Tertiary Administrator at Hillary Outdoors.

Applications close 13 December 2019, and all applicants will be advised by December 31, 2019 whether they have been successful.

McGarry Scholarships for disabled young people

The McGarry  Scholarships are available to assist disabled young people to attend programmes at Hillary Outdoors.

The McGarry Scholarships are in recognition of Richard McGarry who attended OPC (as it was then) in 1992.  His parents and other individuals made donations with the intention of supporting future disabled attendees.

More details about the origin of these scholarships are below;

For successful applications we will work with the applicants to facilitate arrangements for the booking and visit to the centre.  We will also provide financial support by way of a discounted cost.

We will treat each application on its merits with an available fund of $5000 of total support in any year.  The number of scholarships and total level of support will vary from time-to-time.

Background to the McGarry Scholarships

In 1992 the Wainuiomata Lions Club sponsored Richard McGarry to attend a programme at OPC.  Richard was a teenager who suffered from spina bifida but he took part on a week of activities at the Tongariro Centre.

The experience had a major impact on Richard who – on returning home – could not stop talking about this “great place on earth”.  Sadly he only lived for one more year but the staff of OPC left a lasting impression of gratitude and thankfulness in the hearts of Richard’s parents.  Mr and Mrs McGarry forwarded a cheque to OPC for $1000 as a thank you for giving their son “Quality of Life”, and this was matched by the Wainuiomata Lions Club.

Additional donations were made and the OPC board of trustees decided that scholarships would be established for young people with physical disabilities to take part in a week of outdoor activities at OPC.

Since this date a number of young people with physical disabilities have attended Hillary Outdoors (as it is now known) with funding support from the board of trustees.

The Trust Board recently decided  to promote the availability of the McGarry Scholarships so that they become more widely known and available to disabled young people.

To apply for a McGarry scholarship to attend a programme at our Tongariro Centre, applicants should contact Kerry Rollerson.