Hillary Outdoors’ All Staff Training: A Refreshing Retreat 

During January, 40 Hillary Outdoors staff members spent a rejuvenating five days together as the team gathered in Tongariro, where they immersed themselves in a blend of safety training, skill enhancement, mental health and well-being training, strategic planning, and much-needed downtime to foster connection. This time also allowed our Cultural Advisory Committee to meet and build on their research. 

Our instructors delved into refreshing their outdoor skills, ensuring they’re equipped to deliver top-notch experiences for our clients, from practising rescues to honing safety protocols and their expertise. Instructors also took the time to review Unit Standards and had a refresher on how they assess these. 

Meanwhile, support staff gathered and undertook training on our systems and processes to ensure that, as an organisation, we are operating efficiently and effectively. 

Recognising the importance of mental health and well-being, we dedicated time to focus on supporting the well-being of our clients – equipped with valuable insights and strategies to provide a nurturing environment where everyone can thrive.  

The above session aligned with a Hauora workshop where we deepened our understanding of this Māori philosophy, encompassing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects to help us promote a balanced lifestyle for our clients and ourselves. 

Our Cultural Advisory Committee attended a two-day wānanga, hosted at Otūkou Marae by Ngāti Hikairo and at our Tongariro Centre. The Committee dedicated time to reflecting on responses from our accountability-based research to better understand how rangatahi Māori can successfully participate as Māori at Hillary Outdoors. The responses informed our draft cultural strategy, and by the end of the wānanga, we had co-developed three strategic pou with success measures. You can read more about our journey in our blog. It’s not often that we are all gathered in one location, so it was great to collaborate with all staff to map out our future direction to ensure that we continue to innovate and adapt whilst staying true to our core values to empower rangatahi through adventure. 

Of course, amidst the enriching sessions, we also had moments to relax and get out and experience the outdoors. Our instructors led our all-staff canoe and kayak rescue trip, which saw some of us stay drier than others! These special moments helped foster bonds and strengthened our team spirit. 

At Hillary Outdoors, we’re not just an organisation – we’re a family united by our passion for outdoor education and youth development. Training days like this sharpen our skills and reaffirm our commitment to creating safe transformative experiences for rangatahi well into the future.