Living in the Bay of Plenty provides excellent opportunities for authentic outdoor learning.

Year 9 Students are involved in a “Beach Day” with a focus on co-operative activities. In year 10 students choose from a wide range of camps offering challenging activities. A number of academic courses involve outdoor activities, for example a ski trip to Mt Ruapehu in Year 12 and 13 PE and a study of the chemistry and geology of the Rotorua region. In Year 10 Science classes enrichment classes go to White Island. Year 13 Outdoor Education includes a 6 hour adventure race and Year 12 Outdoor Education has, as part of the course, an extended outdoor excursion as well as regular outdoor activities. Below are some of the activities our students are regularly involved in.


This is an exciting learning opportunity for thirty Year 10 students to experience a 5 week placement on Great Barrier Island in Term 3 which began in 2014. English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, PE and Technology will be developed within the authentic context of the Island, using all its resources. Skills such as research, self-management, relating to others as well as a wide range of outdoor skills including tramping, sailing, kayaking, conservation, an overnight expedition and survival skills will challenge the students.

Read about our student's experience here


The Hillary Challenge is undoubtedly the toughest adventure competition for high school students and the battle for first place is intense because it is a prestigious and highly coveted title for schools to achieve. Not only does this event require a high level of physical and mental fitness, being a team sport, members need the ability to work together under stress.


Read about 2018 Hillary Outdoors Challenge team member Elena Miller's experience:


Hillary Challenge has to have been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.  The preparation, teamwork, and organisation that went into it and the accomplishment, strength, and experience that came out of it was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.  In preparation for the week, 7:00 am Thursday morning trainings became something we became accustomed to, and once we had finally established a team, meetings were held to sort out all of the things we were going to need as well.  Just to meet the requirements of the Hillary gear lists, we all turned up at school Sunday morning with packs bags and boxes full of gear which we had to fit into one van and in the crates on the bike trailer.  Somehow we managed to get everything loaded up and we set out for Tongariro National Park.  Arriving at the Hillary Outdoors Center, and to our accommodation (a single room lined with bunks and shelves) we got to catch a glimpse of a few of the other teams as they arrived.  That night at our first meal, all 11 other teams were present, including the famous New Plymouth champions.  Dinner itself was a bit of a disappointment. Apparently there were new meal staff at the Hillary Centre, and their idea of serving sizes (and chicken alternatives) weren’t quite to our standards.  Afterwards we got to hear our briefing for the next day: the first day of the challenges.  Monday and Tuesday would be made up of a total of 12 one hour challenges, which would remain mysteries to us until the moment each hour started.  That night we began the process of completely trashing our accommodations as we sorted out the things we would need for the first day.  Through the twelve challenges we had to learn how to function together as a team, manage our time, and speed through the short, hectic transition times we had between each mental and physically draining challenge.  In a way, this prepared us for the teamwork we would need for the rogaine expedition into the Tongariro National Park the following days. These were by far the hardest two days of the week. Over 8 hours of hiking the first day and 9 and a half the second day, Kaya and Regan navigated us over 45 km.  Though the mountains, terrain, heavy packs, a quick search for water on the first day, and Charlotte’s injury on the second day were a huge challenge, those two days were amazing.  I wish we’d been able to spend an extra ten seconds each time we stopped to collect points to take in the beautiful views of the mountains.  We were stoked to have good weather almost all week, which was unheard of in the history of Hillary Challenges. The final day of the week, we made the decision to complete the multisport race together as a team; regardless of Charlotte’s injuries, and in my opinion, crossing the last finish line together proved how connected we had become, and how well we had learned to work with and depend on each other.  That night, dinner was amazing, and our fifth place accomplishment was something for all of us to be proud of.  It was a lot of hard work, but worth every moment, and as so many people had told me it would be, Hillary Challenge is something I’ll never forget.     - Elena Miller


Outdoor Education in Year 12 is the opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone and have a go at new and exciting activities.  In Term one we focus on surfing as it is a skill that is important to the local Whakatane area. We also run a leadership programme for the year 10s building whanaungatanga within the school. In Term two, we head into the bush tramping with a focus on working as a team and students organising every aspect of the trip.  In Term three we move on to Risk Management and skiing on Mt Ruapehu, we also train for an event. This year it was the 11 km run in the dark through the Rotorua Redwoods. The most amazing aspect of this class is the relationships that are built through shared experiences, the class starts as just another class but ends as a functioning team.


Year 13 builds on the year 12 programme continuing to complete NCEA Achievement Standards as the main assessment.  This year students were challenged to train for and complete the Timber Trail which is an 84km off-road track of historical significance. This ride is one of the most popular bike tracks in New Zealand, so it is an amazing experience to do as a class!  We also team adventure race, ski and snowboard for 4 days, and get outside the classroom as often as we can - sometimes heading up the local gorge or surfing at West End.


Get 2 Go adventure racing is a 3 hour event and is a mix between orienteering and rogaining, with some mountain biking and mystery activities thrown in to keep you on your toes.  Organised by Hillary Outdoors with the expert assistance from the local outdoors enthusiasts. The team’s goal is to navigate to as many checkpoints and complete as many mystery activities as you can and then make it back to the finish line before the clock ticks down to zero.

Our teams have a great time training, Rock Climbing in Rotorua, Stand Up Paddle Boarding on the harbour, Kayaking on the river and Orienteering and Mountain Biking around Whakatane and in the Redwoods.