The Hillary Step

To give young New Zealanders the chance to swim in a river or at a beach, walk through pristine natural bush, and to extend themselves physically and mentally by learning through outdoor adventure.

This was the dream and vision that Sir Edmund Hillary had for young New Zealanders when he helped to create Hillary Outdoors. He wanted young people to be able to walk in his footsteps on the slopes of Tongariro and Ruapehu, to understand how to overcome obstacles to make goals possible, and to become inspired to do great things. Affordability has driven a wedge between kids who can and kids who can’t. That gap is being closed by Hillary Step Scholarships.

Leadership, teamwork, perseverance and helping others

Making Outdoor Education affordable for every young New Zealander wanting to attend the Hillary Outdoors at Tongariro or Great Barrier Island through Hillary Step Scholarships. Hillary Outdoors is proactively helping parents, secondary schools, and community groups, and philanthropic organisations or individuals to raise money for “good kiwi kids” to attend a Hillary Outdoors programme with a Hillary Step Scholarship. It is often the good kids who fly under the radar and miss out. These are tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers who will shape New Zealand society. By giving them the chance of a life-changing experience of learning through adventure, we will ensure the future of New Zealand is in good hands.

The Hillary Step

How many times do we let slip the prize when it is almost within our grasp? So often, the difference between lasting glory and gut-wrenching failure hinges on a superhuman surge of self-belief by one individual that takes us over the line.

It’s May 29 and the year is 1953. The man is Edmund Hillary and he is in the death zone of Everest. He is exhausted by the climb to 28,840 feet where the air delivers only a quarter of its normal oxygen content compared to sea level. Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing had literally hit a stone wall. Their noses are up against a sheer 40-foot vertical rock face. Beyond it is the ultimate prize – the summit of Everest. It is time to dig deep, muster inner reserves and break through their pain barriers. The world is watching and waiting. Failure would bring them no disgrace, however, success would bring an enormous sense of achievement and along with it international fame and recognition.

The rock face that Hillary and Tenzing successfully conquered is today called the Hillary Step. This final hurdle faces us regularly in everyday life. There are “Hillary Steps” all around you, in playing sport, in fighting illness or adversity and in any human endeavour that strives towards identifiable goals. What more fitting tribute could there be than for us to weave the concept of a “Hillary Step” into the thinking of young New Zealanders. For it to become a common turn of phrase and the opposite of an “Achilles Heel”. By routinely acknowledging and admiring the successful resolution of collective problems by an individual’s outstanding ability to dig deep and provide the final push, we would ensure that Sir Ed, our Kiwi icon, will always be remembered.

We would be championing the resolute determination and very special strength of character that we love and that allowed Sir Edmund to “knock the bastard off”. We all know that we need more of this quality, both in our community leadership in order to make things happen, and in ourselves as individuals to live our lives to the fullest. To have courage in our convictions and an unshakable belief in our ability to achieve, these are great qualities to draw out and encourage in each other.