Celebrating Youth Week: Tertiary Students’ Dive into Hauora Retreat 

Last week, as part of Youth Week NZ celebrations, our tertiary students embarked on a new initiative: a four-day Hauora Retreat designed to promote wellness and foster connections among our students. 

During the retreat, our students left their phones and laptops at home and immersed themselves in activities that nurture holistic well-being. We don’t just talk about hauora in a classroom—we live, eat, and breathe it.  

Each day began with an AM routine that included yoga, mindfulness training, and journaling. They practised healthy eating, engaged in daily fitness sessions, and committed to a four- to eight-week programme where they set personal hauora goals. Some goals included maintaining a morning routine, following a paleo or vegetarian diet several times a week, participating in cold water immersion, or targeted fitness training. 

Engaging in diverse activities from yoga to HIIT sessions, mindful journaling to exploring the Mental Health Foundation’s 5 Ways to Well-being model, every day of the retreat was dedicated to exploring the pillars of hauora. 

One unique aspect of the retreat was the Diploma student-led presentations. Our students shared their knowledge on various topics, ranging from the Te Whare Tapa Whā model to breathwork techniques, nourishing nutrition, and habits that promote overall well-being. During these presentations, students empowered one another to prioritize self-care and mental health. 

Students were also challenged to eat a plant-based diet during the retreat and eliminate any foods that were highly processed or high in sugars—the rule of thumb was, if it wasn’t around 100 years ago, then leave it out. Cooking in groups helped them discover new recipes and ways of cooking, strengthening bonds that only sitting down together and sharing kai can create. 

The motivation behind this retreat was to equip our students with essential tools to navigate the complexities of modern life, especially as anxiety and mental health challenges rise among youth. By openly discussing wellness and providing practical tools we aim to empower them to prioritise their mental and emotional well-being. 

It was inspiring to witness the personal growth and transformation that unfolded during the four days, and to champion the well-being of our rangatahi! 

Thank you Ara Taiohi for providing a grant in support of the Hauora Retreat.

Event Season in Full Swing 

2023 Hillary Challenge Final Winners, New Plymouth Girls/Boys High School.

The shorter and colder days have signalled the start of our events season, and Darren, our Events Manager, couldn’t be more eager to bounce out of bed and set up a series of testing challenges he has spent all summer imagining. 

Our events kicked off with a bang, with the South and then the North Island playing hosts to two fantastic Hillary Challenge regional events.    

Close to 300 rangatahi were tested, trialled and pushed to limits they didn’t know they could reach, as they competed to win a place at the highly anticipated Hillary Challenge Final, set to take place over a week during the end of Term 3. 

Our 2024 Finalists

Congratulations to Cashmere High (Christchurch); Motueka High (Motueka – Tasman); Middleton Grange (Christchurch); MacKenzie College (Fairlie – South Canterbury); St Andrews College (Christchurch); Francis Douglas/Sacred Heart (New Plymouth); John Paul College (Rotorua); Westlake Girls/Boys High (Auckland); Rotorua Lake High (Rotorua)  teams for your outstanding performances and securing your place in the Hillary Challenge Final, where they will be joined by New Plymouth Girls/Boys High; Wakatipu High and Whakatane High who all have won automatic entry to the 2024 Hillary Challenge Final and finishing in the top three spots at the 2023 Hillary Challenge Final – we cannot wait to welcome you to Tongariro – we are sure Darren has some more exhilarating activities in-store that will test your teamwork! 

Meanwhile, our Torpedo7 Get2Go regionals are just around the corner, running from late July to mid-September. In these events, teams compete in various outdoor challenges, fostering skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and resilience. The winning team from each region’s Mixed Open category will earn a spot in the prestigious Torpedo7 Get2Go Final, to be held later in the year. 

Participating in the Hillary Challenge and Torpedo7 Get2Go offers invaluable benefits to rangatahi. These events provide opportunities to: 

  • Develop leadership and teamwork skills in challenging outdoor environments 
  • Build resilience and problem-solving abilities 
  • Experience personal growth and confidence through adventure 
  • Forge lasting friendships and connections with peers from across the country 

We cannot wait to witness the growth and success of all participants in these upcoming events. Stay tuned for more updates and join us in celebrating the achievements of our inspiring rangatahi! 

Building brighter futures for young New Zealanders

We love that Hillary Outdoors, then OPC, has a place in the hearts of thousands of New Zealanders, like you. We know that you cherish the epic adventures and incredible friendships forged, and still love the outdoors to this day! But did you really love the ‘bunch of old buildings’ you stayed in, and having to put on wet, cold gear from the day before? 

Ray Button, Chief Instructor in the late 1970s and early ’80s, remembers the incredible team spirit and feeling of empowerment at the time. He also remembers walking out of his room, straight outdoors into the (literally) freezing cold, and putting on soaked gear from the day before; then having to work with equipment that was patchworked with repairs. Getting a locker for his own gear is still one of the highlights of his whole life!  

Fast-forward 50 years, and the sentiment remains. Our team loves the comradery but not so much the holey canoes, frayed green carpet, and lack of heating.

Thankfully, we’ve made a few improvements and are on a mission to upgrade our Tongariro Centre with the help of our superstar supporters. 

In the last 12 months, we’ve replaced our canoes – no more patched holes! Have a new fleet of white water boats, and even have two new, fit-for-purpose trailers to transport them. Grants have provided essential safety gear to complement this new equipment along with an ATV to launch our safety boat into the water.

We’ve also built a world-class climbing facility that elevates and expands our programme offerings to our school clients and tertiary students.

Behind the scenes, we’ve upgraded the fire safety systems in our student accommodation and carried out critical maintenance on our radio tower, ensuring the highest level of health and safety for our residential, adventure programmes. We’ve also installed an innovative drying system so students have warm, dry gear each day. Now that’ll be music to Ray’s ears! 

Speaking of warmth, we’re working through upgrading the heating and cooling systems for everyone on our site. We know that thermal comfort plays a critical role in health and safety, not only for physical wellness, but if people are too hot or cold, their ability to make decisions deteriorates. In order to mitigate those risks, we’ve installed heat pumps in our staff housing and classroom spaces, and are starting to raise funds for heating solutions in our student accommodation and Safety Operations Hub. You know our buildings are not hitting the mark when our team puts on their alpine gear to come inside each day for their Safety Briefing.

Another factor that contributes to keeping spaces thermally comfortable is insulation. We’re so pleased to see the last of the green carpet, which was older than most of our team! It didn’t disintegrate to nothing, which wouldn’t be a far stretch from the truth, but was replaced with a cosy and healthy upgrade. The new carpet provides a layer of insulation in our Safety Operations Hub and means our team and clients no longer have to live and breathe amongst green dust!

We have been truly humbled by the incredible support we’ve received from our Funders and amazing community of Donors, who have made these upgrades a reality.

Thank you: Four Winds Foundation, Grassroots Trust, Grassroots Trust Central, Marion Ross Memorial Trust, NZAC Tūpiki Trust, Pelorus Trust, and Trillian Trust. 

To date, with the support of these extraordinary charitable organisations, we have raised just under half a million dollars, funding exceptional facilities and equipment for Hillary Outdoors to deliver high-impact outdoor and adventure education programmes for the next 50 years.

We’ve hit the ground running but still need your help to build brighter futures for young New Zealanders.

If you’d like to be part of building Hillary Outdoors’ future, donate today or contact our Fundraising Manager, Dawn.