Give rangatahi the opportunity to be extraordinary

One pivotal moment changed the course of Sir Ed’s life. At Hillary Outdoors, we want all young New Zealanders to have this opportunity.

Imagine a world where Sir Edmund Hillary didn’t conquer Mt. Everest.

Summiting the world’s highest peak could still be an undefeated challenge. Sir Ed may never have devoted himself to environmental and humanitarian efforts that made a profound difference to Aotearoa and to the world. 

Looking back, it all started with a school trip to Mt. Ruapehu. Sir Ed’s teacher was at a loss with what to do with a class of unruly teenage boys. After all his efforts in class failed, he decided to take them to the mountains, something that was unheard of at the time. It was on this trip that Sir Ed fell in love with the mountains and that catalysed a humble teenage New Zealander to do the impossible: make ground-breaking history and change the world for the better. 


Many rangatahi across Aotearoa don’t have access to that same opportunity Sir Ed had. It’s not that they lack the potential for greatness; it’s that they don’t have the chance to discover it.

1 in 8 children live in material hardship where their lives are often confined to a small radius around where they live. They feel isolated, are unfulfilled and don’t see a bright future ahead. Even if they are offered an opportunity to experience new things, financial barriers prohibit their participation and often the fear of trying something new is too daunting to face.

Without the fundamental building blocks of youth development, the possibility of becoming a school or community leader, let alone a global hero, is intangible.  

Liam, a young boy from Hamilton, was never picked for anything, noting he wouldn’t have picked himself. He described himself as a very shy, anxious person, too afraid to put himself forward for fear of being rejected or, worse, not being able to do a good job if he did somehow get selected.

He reflects on his time as Hillary Outdoors as being life-changing:   

“What changed for me as a result of going to Hillary Outdoors? If you asked my mother she’d tell you that for the first time in 15 years my room was clean. For me, it went a little deeper than that. I came back with self-belief, I had discovered that I could be a leader, and I believed it. I was confident in my decisions, I had gained the ability to stick with things which sometimes is the hardest part. I was no longer afraid of getting stuck in, in fact, I started actively searching for opportunities to help out. School became more fulfilling, my grades improved, I started to gain the respect of my peers. It felt like the miracle cure, from a shy, fearful year 9 to the person I’d wanted to be for so long.”   

Liam later became Head Boy of his school.   


As Sir Edmund Hillary said, “It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”   

Our programmes evoke pivotal moments for youth, inspiring them to overcome their fears and insecurities to become leaders who contribute positively to their community.    

With the incredible generosity of our supportive community, we provide scholarships to children living in hardship so they can have the same experience that Sir Ed and Liam had. Your invaluable donations give young New Zealanders the opportunity to grow and flourish through outdoor education and adventure, help them find the courage to ignite and pursue their ambitions and empower them to do extraordinary things.

Expanding Our Horizons: Introducing Hillary Outdoors Coromandel

Yesterday was a momentous occasion for Hillary Outdoors as we proudly announced the acquisition of our new centre on the stunning Coromandel. This expansion is not just about growing our footprint; it’s about deepening our commitment to providing exceptional outdoor education opportunities for rangatahi across Aotearoa.

With over 50 years of experience in delivering high-impact outdoor education programmes, Hillary Outdoors, then OPC, has a place in the hearts of generations of New Zealanders. Our journey began with our iconic Tongariro Centre. Now, we are thrilled to extend our reach to the Coromandel, a region rich with unique marine and conservation environments.

Hillary Outdoors Coromandel will serve as our Marine and Conservation Centre, offering unparalleled experiences in the northern Coromandel’s bush, coastal, and marine environments. This acquisition allows us to provide more diverse learning opportunities and empower more youth to benefit from the life-changing experiences our programmes facilitate.

What Hillary Outdoors Coromandel Offers

Experiential Learning in Unique Environments: Our Coromandel Centre will immerse students in hands-on learning experiences that cover a wide range of marine and land-based activities and promote a deeper connection to nature. This environment will provide continuous opportunities for youth development through engaging journeys and expeditions.

Commitment to Environmental Stewardship: Coromandel has a unique biodiversity that we are committed to protecting and preserving. We believe in the power of collaboration and look forward to supporting the incredible community-led conservation efforts underway in the region.

Fit-For-Purpose Facilities: Hillary Outdoors Coromandel Centre will feature facilities that will be converted to support an array of educational activities. With experienced instructors and a well-rounded curriculum, we aim to uphold the high standards of excellence that have defined us for decades.

Join us on This Journey

We are excited to welcome our first group of students in January 2025. Until then, our team will be hard at work converting the site to be fit-for-purpose and getting the highest outdoor safety accreditation for our programmes, maximising the educational potential of this incredible location. We are currently working through our booking process with our clients, and look forward to forging new partnerships with schools and communities from Coromandel, Auckland, and wider Aotearoa.

As we embark on this new chapter, we invite you to join us in celebrating this expansion of Hillary Outdoors, which will ultimately achieve our goal of providing transformative experiences to more than 10,000 rangatahi each year through outdoor education and equip them to lead brighter futures. 

Make sure to stay tuned to our social media channels and website as we share the journey and progress of opening Hillary Outdoors Coromandel.

Thank you for your continued support and belief in our purpose. Here’s to a new chapter!

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! 

Hillary Outdoors’ Tertiary Instructors: A Legacy of unmatched expertise

As the saying goes, you’re only as good as your team, and we are lucky to have some of the most highly skilled and experienced Tertiary instructors in New Zealand on our team at Hillary Outdoors.

With over a collective century of experience between them, our instructors bring an unparalleled level of expertise to every outdoor education programme they lead.

Our team of seven tertiary instructors embodies a diverse background and range of specialties – from alpine to rivers, bush to coastlines, abseiling to rock climbing and extensive teaching experience.

With invaluable experience across every type of outdoor environment, our instructors’ combined experience informs the delivery of our high-quality Tertiary programmes that inspire and challenge students.

One of the standout attributes of Hillary Outdoors’ tertiary instructors is their impressive collective experience of over 100 years, and this remarkable figure underscores their deep commitment to outdoor education and the breadth of their expertise.

And while technical skills are essential, our tertiary instructors go beyond just their experience in the field, they are also passionate educators dedicated to providing transformative learning experiences. With a strong focus on student-centred learning, they help create an inclusive and supportive environment that fosters personal growth, resilience, and teamwork.

Even in their spare time, they’re looking for unique opportunities to empower their students to succeed. Recently, under the stunning light of the Super Moon, our Tertiary Crew journeyed across the Tongariro Crossing. An unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you are considering a career in the outdoors, then you need to come and learn from the best.  We are the only outdoor tertiary provider in New Zealand to have 100% of our courses taught on-site, in a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site, and where nearly 100% of our graduates from the last few years have found employment.

If you follow your passion, and do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!

Will you join Sash, Prajot, Rich, Mel, Graeme, Ollie and Will in 2024?

Check out our Prospectus or visit our Tertiary page for more information and to apply for 2024.

Finalists for the Torpedo7 Get2Go Final are confirmed

We now have our 12 finalists who have successfully made their way through the exhilarating Torpedo7 Get2Go North and South Island challenges to secure a spot in the illustrious final event, set to take place in the stunning Tongariro National Park this December.

After a gruelling series showcasing exceptional outdoor skills, these finalists are gearing up for the ultimate adventure experience. Who will you be cheering on?

Northland – Whangarei Girls/Boys High
Auckland North/West – Westlake Girls Boys High
Auckland Central/South – St Kentigern College
Waikato – Waikato Dio/St Pauls Collegiate
Bay of Plenty – John Paul College
Hawkes Bay – Taradale High
Taranaki/Whanganui – New Plymouth Girls/Boys High
Wellington/Wairarapa/Manawatu – Palmerston North Girls/Boys High
Nelson/Tasman – Waimea College
Canterbury/Northern Aoraki – Middleton Grange
Otago/Southland – Fiordland College
Central Otago/Southland – Wakatipu High

Icebreaker NZ empowering youth through adventure

We are incredibly grateful to partner with Icebreaker NZ, which sponsors Rosehill College as part of our Kotahitanga (adopt-a-school) programme.

With their extraordinary support, students from Rosehill College have had the opportunity to grow through adventure, develop resilience, confidence and leadership skills, and strengthen their career pathways; without financial barriers holding them back.

Icebreaker NZ and Hillary Outdoors believe that all youth, no matter their abilities or finances should have access to nature. Nature is a great teacher and offers solutions to creating a healthy, sustainable future, for the planet and young people. Through outdoor education, rangatahi learn how to grow and adapt, connect and work symbiotically with each other and the environment, and practice kaitiakitanga to foster a more sustainable future.

In 2021, the first year of our three-year partnership with Icebreaker NZ, students from Rosehill College ventured to Hillary Outdoors’ Education Centre on Aotea, Great Barrier Island, during Matariki, for a 5-day programme. Amplified by this significant time of reflection, celebration and renewal, their experience was life-changing.

Upon returning from the 5-day programme, one girl who was intent on dropping out of school remained in school and graduated at the end of the year. For another two students, it was their first time leaving their home community in Papakura, South Auckland, and for another, who struggled with anxiety, she was able to overcome her challenges and connect with her peers.

For Evan, a student from Rosehill College, “having a full experience of no light pollution, and just looking up at the stars, and feeling really good” reflected that “Life is the best thing you can have, and this trip has taught me to keep going, and the reward will be worth it at the end of the tunnel.”

This short video showcases Evan’s and Rosehill College students’ journeys on Aotea.

Following on from this experience, with invaluable sponsorship from Icebreaker NZ, Rosehill College media students were the first to participate in our ‘Through My Lens’ programme at our Centre in Tongariro.

The immersive programme, developed by Hillary Outdoors, supports students in developing their visual storytelling skills through adventure and outdoor education.

Throughout the programme, students receive instruction and guidance from our adventure videographer, Charlie, from Runner Films.

Students are empowered to build skills and confidence while exploring the world around them and developing deep connections with themselves, others and the environment – for many students, this was their first time experiencing snow!

During the programme, students produce a video showcasing their adventures and learnings from their perspective. Check out the magic they captured.

For one student, the Through My Lens programme inspired her to pursue film-making as a career; “I am planning to study Screen Production down in Christchurch in the new year which is very exciting. I do think that seeing that I have the ability to be independent and pushed out of my comfort zone has given me more confidence in my everyday life and made me more comfortable with the idea of moving down to Christchurch. I also got to experience filming in a different environment than what we do at school which gave me a different outlook on the idea of film-making and the fact that I enjoyed every part of the experience pushed me to pursue it even more.”

With the incredible support from Icebreaker NZ, we have delivered 200 outdoor education days to students from Rosehill College, inspiring them to challenge themselves and build life-long connections and skills.

We are also truly grateful to Icebreaker NZ for keeping us, and Rosehill College students, warm in natural, high-performing gear.

“I have nothing but gratitude towards Hillary Outdoors and Icebreaker for allowing us the opportunity and freedom regarding adventure” – Rosehill College student.

Surviving to thriving!

Imagine you’re fifteen again. You’re on your way to school. You walk past the shop that has the new Sting-Ray bike you’ve been saving up for in the window, the one with the high-rise handlebars. After countless weeks of braving the wind, the rain and Old Bob’s dog who chases you down the street, you have only a couple more weeks of doing the paper round, and you will have saved up enough to buy it. The finish line is so close! You visualise yourself riding to school every day. You get to school and tell your friends that you’ll be riding with them soon, unable to contain your excitement! 

The following week, you take the same trip to school, past that window, just one more round of papers, and it’s yours. Except you notice the new price tag in the window. A sinking feeling settles in your stomach as you realise the price has gone up, and all your hard work now seems like it was for nothing.  

Sadly, this is the reality for many youth in Aotearoa. At Hillary Outdoors, we hear numerous stories where a student is incredibly committed to attending one of our programmes with their school. They’re determined and motivated to raise enough funds so they can come to Hillary Outdoors. They have all their ducks in a row but all it takes is for one thing to change; the groceries have gone from costing $200 a week to $250, and now there’s not enough money to put aside, a weather bomb rips through their town and their family’s life gets turned upside down, or they’re let go from their after school job because the company can’t afford to operate any more, due to the ongoing strain from Covid and never-ending increase of the cost of living.  

For many rangatahi who attend our programmes, they’ve done the hard yards and only need a nominal amount of support to get them over the line. Thanks to the ongoing generosity from the Share My Super community, individual donors and Trusts, we can distribute funds directly to those students who may only need $25 – $100 to make up their programme fees and be able to experience real adventures, build stronger relationships with their peers, and unlock their full potential. 

Other students may need more significant support. Rimu was just 15 when her parents tragically passed away in a car accident. Rimu was booked in to attend a five-week Hillary Outdoors programme but due to the tragedy could no longer afford to attend.  

It’s at times like these when it often seems futile to engage in such activities, but ultimately a Hillary Outdoors programme can offer a safe space for youth to express themselves and work through their struggles. Generous funders stepped forward to support Rimu to attend the programme with her class, and during her Hillary Outdoors experience, she formed trusting bonds with her peers, teachers and instructors. Rimu realised her resilience and strength at a time when she most needed it.  

Once Rimu returned home, she started volunteering to support others in her community who had faced tragedy and became the Head Girl of her school.  

Rimu reflects on her five-week journey as “…what can only be described as a life-changing experience facilitated by Hillary Outdoors, going to Great Barrier Island was the best experience of my life, and I was fortunate enough to have received a full scholarship to go on the five-week programme. For me, Barrier is one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on. And it wasn’t just a trip. It was a period of time that I was allowed to grow in and to develop new talents and skills, without any outside pressures.” 

Your donations, no matter the amount, can make a huge difference to New Zealand youth, changing their world from simply surviving to thriving.  

Hillary Outdoors Changed the Course of My Life – YouTube

It is the generosity of philanthropists, like you, who help to make these experiences a reality. Hillary Outdoors provides 40,000 outdoor education days each year, with a goal to fundraise $1 million to support youth, who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend due to hardship, to grow through adventure and connect through participation.  

For just $25 you can provide an outdoor education day*, changing a young person’s world and creating pathways for them to flourish into young leaders. With regular donations, together, we can amplify these opportunities for our youth and help to reduce the cycle of poverty.  

We are truly grateful to incredible people like you, who help to change the lives of extraordinary young people like Rimu. 

Donate today to make adventure happen tomorrow and grow our future leaders.

*An outdoor education day provides young people with an instructor who is highly trained in outdoor safety and in soft skills facilitation. It provides food, safety gear, equipment, transportation to adventures and accommodation.