School Programmes


OPC runs a variety of courses for youth, ranging from adventure to leadership. You’ll learn heaps of outdoor skills while challenging yourself and working together in a team while exploring rivers, lakes, mountains, bush and sea. During your OPC programme you will learn about yourself and develop tools which will support a lifelong adventure.

2014 OPC School Fees

  • All prices include GST at 15%
  • Prices include a free place for one accompanying adult per ten students
  • Prices include the cost of gear hire

Core School Programmes

  • 5 day programme 10 students + 1 accompanying adult $ 5,500.00
  • 4 day programme 10 students + 1 accompanying adult $ 4,920.00

Programmes for Schools

Ideal for intermediate aged students or older students experiencing the New Zealand outdoors for the first time (e.g. International student groups).

The Hillary Step 1 programme has been specifically developed for younger student groups. This programme is about learning and connecting through exploration, adventure, sensory learning, storytelling and experiencing together.

Students work with the same instructor for the whole week. They tend to form a strong bond with their instructor which builds trust and confidence. The Hillary Step 1 programme includes a wide range of activities, ensuring that students remain engaged. Games and practical activities are used as core tools for learning and reflection. An overnight camping experience is optional, but recommended.

Activities, experiences and tasks are designed to enable students to develop the basics of the New Zealand Curriculum Key Competencies in new wilderness environments. A great deal of the learning happens through discovery and firsthand experience.

Sample Programme:

  • Arrival Evening:Settle into your accommodation
    Welcome and safety briefing.
  • Day 1Group games Get geared up Meet the outdoors
    An exploration in the wilderness, stream walk, flying fox, high ropes, or rock climbing.
  • Day 2Wilderness skills / nature project
    Sit on top kayaking with games / challenges.
  • Day 3An adventure into the mountains (Tongariro), or sea (Great Barrier)
    This will be broken up with activities and opportunities to explore in the new environment.
  • Day 4Pack up and set off for an overnight camp all together
    Sit on top kayaking with games / challenges.
  • Day 5Return from camp and the clean up competition begins!
    Successful groups will enjoy some final games and activities before it’s time to say goodbye.
A multi-activity programme appropriate for a range of age groups that focuses on resilience, self-management, working with others, ecological literacy, problem solving and outdoor recreation skills.

OPC’s award winning personal development programme has students spending five days with their instructor and their team of ten peers. The emphasis is on developing personal and social skills which can be applied back in the students’ community to increase positive participation and confidence. This programme is tailored to meet the specific needs of each group as identified by our staff and your school at the time of booking.

The New Zealand Curriculum Key Competencies are developed through sequenced challenges and activities which build towards an overnight journey. The overnight is an opportunity for groups to experience real consequences to their decisions and actions.

Many of the activities on offer involve a journey to access the activity itself. Often the real learning comes though these journeys and the activities themselves act as a great motivator for the team.

Both Unit Standards and Achievement Standards can be incorporated into the Hillary Step 2 and 3 programmes, so that students can gain credits to go toward level 1, 2 or 3.

Sample Programme:

  • Arrival Evening:Settle into your accommodation
    Welcome and safety briefing.
  • Day 1
  • Form a supportive team
  • Learn outdoor skills
  • Challenge yourself
  • Day 2
  • Strengthen connections to yourself, others and the environment
  • Solve problems by working with others and thinking collaboratively
  • Day 3
  • Persevere: You’ll be amazed at the goals you can achieve
  • Learn navigation skills
  • Day 4
    Put your team to the test during an overnight journey by foot or boat
  • Day 5
    Return to base, clean up and pack and debrief the week’s experiences and learning. A chance to reflect on how you and your team have developed and how these skills will support you back in your home and school community
Ideal for senior secondary students, the ultimate learning experience for New Zealand’s future leaders. Students train towards, plan and run their own journey, allowing them to develop transferable leadership skills.

In the vision of Sir Edmund Hillary, the Everest Challenge is the ultimate learning experience for New Zealand’s future leaders. The Programme promotes students taking on leadership roles and provides authentic and meaningful opportunities to experience autonomy. This programme involves a journey of up to four days led by the students.

The instructor supports and facilitates the development of technical and leadership skills and ensures the welfare of the group. Students are challenged to put the Key Competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum into action at a high level with real consequences.

At the end of the week the instructor will produce a short report rating the leadership skills which have been demonstrated by each student during the journey element of the programme.

A number of Unit Standards and Achievement Standards can be attached to the students participating in a Hillary Step 3 programme, which can then be accredited to their level 3 results.

Governance Challenge

This is for the Student Representative that has been elected onto their school Board of Trustees. This course happens once a year just prior to the school year starting. The course contains workshops facilitated by NZSTA (New Zealand School Trustees Association).

Sample Programme:

  • Arrival Evening:Settle into your accommodation
    Welcome and safety briefing.
  • Day 1 and 2Learn the skills you will need for your expedition.
    This may include:
  • Initiatives to learn and practice leadership skills in a smaller setting and to challenge current ways of thinking.
  • Expedition skills such as navigation, camp craft, tramping, sea kayaking, or other journey methods.
  • Rope skills to enable you to manage rope based activities independently.
  • Risk management training and awareness including understanding the weather and basic water safety.
  • Day 3-5Putting the skills you have learnt into action as part of a student led journey. This may include:
  • Tramping
  • Mountaineering
  • Sea kayaking or canoeing
  • Abseiling or other rope based skills
  • Caving
The Hillcrest High School is about to embark on our five week programme. You can also download the brochure for full details below.

OPC Great Barrier Governance Challenge

2014 Student Trustee Development

We understand that you will soon be preparing for the election of the student representative on your School Board of Trustees for 2014.

The role of the Student Trustee is challenging and the experience of being in a governance role offers a lot of future benefit to the successful candidate.  At The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoors Pursuits Centre of New Zealand (OPC) we believe the best way to ensure the success is to provide the necessary skills for the role prior to commencing the position.  For that reason we have put together a special programme to help provide those skills, particularly in the areas of trusteeship, leadership, teamwork and goal setting.  We have called this programme the “Governance Challenge”.

OPC is well known to most New Zealand secondary schools.  We have been providing outdoor education to school students, youth, adult and business groups who wish to develop personally, or as a team, through experiences in the New Zealand outdoors since 1973.  OPC now offers two superbly located centres which are situated at Great Barrier Island and adjacent to the Tongariro National Park.

OPC, in partnership with NZSTA, seeks to assist all new Student Trustees in learning about their roles and developing their skills in governance.  We have developed a programme that addresses knowledge of roles, leaderships skills and the personal skills required for cooperative teamwork.  Classroom presentations will be augmented by practical activities framed around experiences ranging from sea-kayaking, challenges within the high ropes course, sailing, tramping or rock climbing.  All outdoor activities are supervised by experienced professional instructors who are experts at getting the most transferable learning from experiential activities.

The “Governance Challenge” is a 5-day residential course that will also allow the participant’s time to interact with others undertaking the Student Trustee programme.  This will enable them to form networks that will aid in coping with the challenges in the year ahead.

Course Dates and Price

OPC will be offering this course from OPC Great Barrier, 20-24 January 2014.  The fee is $690.00 (GST inclusive) per Student Trustee.  This price includes meals from arrival day dinner through to departure day lunch, accommodation from Sunday to Thursday, five days of OPC instruction, NZSTA Facilitation workshops, use of specialist equipment, transport to and from activity sites once at our Centre and gear the participant may wish to borrow.

Return Travel to Great Barrier Island

Return travel is not included within the course fee.  We will arrange the students’ travel to Great Barrier Island on Sunday, 19 January 2014 and return travel to the mainland on Friday, 24 January 2014.

If your school is in Auckland your travel options are by sea or by air.  If you are flying into Auckland Airport from another destination preferable you will fly to Great Barrier, or arrange your own transport to the ferry/charter boat locations.

Return travel options are attached to this letter (External provider prices are subject to change).  I would book the travel on the students’ behalf, add the costs to the invoice and forward a confirmation of return travel to the student.

What to Do Now

To reserve a place for your newly elected student trustee, complete and return the attached Application Form.  You can post (to the OPC Auckland Office), fax, scan or email.  Once received, I will forward relevant Medical and Consent Forms for your student representative to complete and return.

Confirmation of Course Attendance

For schools that indicate they would like to enrol their student trustee on this course; we would need to have all forms completed, return travel confirmed and full payment received before 2 December 2013.

Do not hesitate to contact me should you have further queries, or wish to clarify anything.

Kitty Buchanan
Great Barrier Island Bookings Administrator | ph 09 446 2054 | fax 09 929 3404

Application Form

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award

OPC can support you with the Adventurous Journey Section or the Residential Project of The Award. It is essential that this is requested at least 10 weeks in advance and the procedures outlined below are followed.

Adventurous Journey

For each level of The Award you must complete training, practice journey(s) and a final qualifying journey (in that order).

OPC can support you in any of these areas. For the Bronze Award the following can be arranged:

Bronze Award training
This can be incorporated into the OPC 5 Day Hillary Step programme. Some sections of this fit better with a week at OPC than others. We do not cover the section on outdoor first aid so you will need to arrange to do this elsewhere.

You may also wish to cover some of the theory based training such as Safety Precautions and Trip Planning at another time. These sections can be run by OPC but will take time away from the rest of the programme.

Record Books MUST be brought to OPC with the group and handed to the OPC Instructor in Charge on arrival.These will be returned at the end of the week with the appropriate sections signed. OPC will not sign books after the training week is completed.

Bronze practice expedition
This is a 2 day, 1 night expedition. The expedition can be incorporated into a week at OPC. At Bronze level the necessary planning for the practice expedition can take place during days 1 and 2 of the programme with the expedition on days 3 and 4.

Before students can take part in a practice expedition OPC must sight completed training records. It is possible for training and a practice expedition to occur during a 5 day programme (for Bronze only) if the full programme is dedicated to this.   Please note that for the practice expedition participant group numbers must be between 4 and 7, so the ratio of instructors to students will be affected.

As OPC does not train students in Outdoor First Aid, this must be completed and signed off in student’s Record Books before the week at OPC. Again Record Books must be handed to the OPC Instructor in Charge on arrival night to check that all training has been completed before a practice expedition can occur.

Bronze Qualifying expedition
For the final expedition students are required to do the majority of the planning themselves. At least 2 weeks before the week at OPC, students should produce and send in a risk management plan, an equipment list and menu plans.

Route planning and route cards will be done under the supervision of your instructor. Please note that for the qualifying expedition participant group numbers must be between 4 and 7, so the ratio of instructors to students will be affected.

Silver and Gold Awards
OPC can provide similar training and supervision for Silver and Gold Award expeditions. Silver expeditions are a minimum of 3 days and Gold a minimum of 4 days. The degree of expedition planning to be managed by the group is greater for these level awards. There are two options for these expeditions:

  1. To give you the best possible chance of success you can arrive at OPC with a day or two for acclimatisation in the environment and planning under the supervision of your instructor. As with Bronze you will need to complete the majority of the planning before arrival but can finalise route plans and route cards under the supervision of your instructor and with a long term weather forecast in mind*.
  2. Alternatively you can do all of the planning in advance and hire an OPC instructor on our ‘instructor only’ rates. The instructor can meet you at your chosen start point. If you choose this option you will not have access to OPC equipment and personal gear hire so if your equipment does not meet safety standards your instructor has the right to refuse to take you on the expedition. You will need to do all planning in advance and have this approved by your instructor. This should include tracings of your route and route cards. Instructor planning time will be part of the fee charged. Please talk to the OPC Marketing Team to develop a programme specific to your group’s needs.
*Please note that for your Gold Qualifying Journey you will also need to have your plans approved by The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award National Office at least six weeks prior to the proposed journey taking place.

Residential Project

The Residential Project requires you to undertake a shared project away from home, over a period of at least 5 days in the company of others who are not their usual companions. An OPC holiday Programme would be the ideal way to achieve this whilst having loads of fun. There can be a maximum of one other person you know attending. Check out the OPC website for the latest holiday adventure opportunities.

Accompanying Adults Roles
One of the greatest outcomes of an outdoor programme is the relationships which students form through participation in a community. This includes the relationships between students and teachers, or other accompanying adults. We require accompanying adults to supervise the students between 5pm and 8.30am (with the exception of overnight expeditions) – although our staff support this by running evening activities. We also ask you to support any students who are unable to take part in the programme on a particular day, for example due to sickness. Accompanying adults are not required to be present for any activities. OPC takes full responsibility for your students’ safety during activity times. You are welcome to participate in the programme in any of the following roles:

  • Participant – You participate along with your students as a member of the group. If you choose this option the group will decide on rules at the start of the week to ensure they get to take charge!
  • Observer – Many schools use the opportunity to observe the students in action and make assessments on their leadership skills against NCEA Standards, or for leadership roles back at school.
Our ratios normally allow for one adult to join each group of ten students as a participant or observer.
  • Marking papers back at base – No this is not just an excuse: some schools prefer to let the students get out there with just their OPC instructor, especially during the overnight expedition. Sometimes the students are more willing to stand up and take responsibility without a teacher watching them and teachers love to hear the stories of great adventures when the groups arrive back.
  • Co-instructor / Trainee – OPC works with teachers to assist in their professional development. This can include NZQA registered qualifications. If you are an outdoor education or PE teacher, contact our Quality and Education Manager to find out more.