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.