Hillary Outdoors Bids Farewell to Aotea: End of an Era

In a heartfelt announcement, the Hillary Outdoors Education Centre has declared the closure of its Aotea Great Barrier Island operation

Hillary Outdoors has been based on the 230 hectare Orama Oasis centre at Karaka Bay. Photo / Supplied

In a heartfelt announcement, the Hillary Outdoors Education Centre has declared the closure of its Aotea Great Barrier Island operation, a decision that marks the end of an 18-year legacy on the island, effective from 11 May 2024. The Centre, known for its outdoor education programmes, cited the financial unsustainability of operating from the remote island location as the primary reason for its closure.

The Great Barrier Island community, including local iwi and the Orama cooperative, has been integral to the Centre’s operations since it opened its doors in 2006. The decision to close was described as “tough” by the organization, highlighting the deep connections and long-standing relationships formed with the local community over the years. 

“Aotea will always be a location that holds a special place in our hearts and minds,” the group said.

The challenges associated with running the Centre on Aotea Great Barrier Island, particularly the increased costs of delivering outdoor education programmes, have made it financially untenable. This has impacted the affordability of programmes for young New Zealanders, a cornerstone of the Centre’s mission. 

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The Centre’s association with Aotea Great Barrier Island is not just a recent development but ties back to the legendary Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand’s most celebrated explorer and mountaineer. 

Sir Edmund’s connection to Aotea and his passion for exploration were showcased in the 1977 TV series “The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary – The Sea Pillars of Great Barrier,” bringing national attention to the island’s natural beauty and adventure potential. 

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

Despite the closure, Hillary Outdoors says the organization remains financially sound, with plans to continue delivering programmes to rangatahi from its Tongariro Centre, alongside its tertiary and events programmes.

Hillary Outdoors has been based on the 230 hectare Orama Oasis centre at Karaka Bay. Photo / Supplied
Hillary Outdoors has been based on the 230 hectare Orama Oasis centre at Karaka Bay. Photo / Supplied

The organization extends its gratitude to the many schools, groups, and organizations that have supported the Aotea Great Barrier Island Centre, acknowledging their role in its journey. 

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

“While it is the end of an era, it is the right decision for our organization as we look to the future,” the organization said.

“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini – my success is not mine alone, but it is the strength of many,” the organization stated, commending the collective spirit that supported Hillary Outdoors throughout its tenure on the island.

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