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The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award

Escape – Adventurous Journeys in Rotorua is an open award centre and accredited outdoor provider for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award.

Escape Adventurous Journeys runs a range of programs which cover the training, practice and qualifying journeys for all levels of The Award.

Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone and discover the world around you. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (the Award) is a proven personal development programme for young people. You can complete your award with us if your school does not offer a DoE Program and also your two adventurous journeys and training.

Through our involvement in the Award, we aim to foster a positive and holistic sense of self-worth in our youth – to encourage them to take care of their mental, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing. We take them off the grid, and teach hard skills that will keep them safe in the future, and build their confidence.

Anyone aged 14 to 24 can do the Award programme at one of three progressive levels which lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award when successfully completed.

Award participants are required to complete four sections at each level: voluntary service, skills, physical recreation and adventurous journey. At Gold level, participants also complete a residential project.

You can complete your Adventurous Journey and Residential part of the Award with Escape – Adventurous Journeys.

Discover more about the different award levels.

Why do the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award?

Completing The Award will not only give you a huge sense of accomplishment, but it also teaches you valuable life skills and qualities that are sought after by educational institutions and employers worldwide.

On a practical level you will discover that you are capable of more than you can imagine. With the supervision of qualified and experienced instructors, you will learn ‘hard skills’ in a safe environment:


  • How to use a compass and maps to plan routes
  • How to navigate the bush without a GPS
  • How to read maps
  • How to identify the surrounding contours of the land and relate that to a topographical map to pinpoint your location
  • How to work in a team to achieve a shared goal
  • Develop evidence-based decision making skills
  • Learn how to stay safe in the bush

“You need to get out of your comfort zone to get into your learning zone.”

As long-time educators working with teenagers, all of our instructors understand the psyche of teenagers, and are able to get each student excited about learning.

We know that if they aren’t being challenged, they aren’t having fun. We will work with your child to develop positive outcomes during their time with us, all the while ensuring they are secure and working within our established safety parameters.

Safety and planning

Everything we do is undergirded by a solid safety framework.

Our groups are continually monitored by InReach GPS, equipped with locator beacons for emergencies, as well as satellite phones. Instructors keep in constant communication with our backup team in town, and we have proven back up & emergency plans in place if they are required.

How does the Award work?

The programme is made up of four sections (five at Gold). Over the required time you’ll need to do each activity for an average of an hour a week.

To achieve your Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award, you’ll need to show persistence, commitment and personal development.

Because Award programmes are all about getting out there, having fun and self-development, everyone can achieve something. You’ll find yourself helping people or the community, getting fitter, developing new skills, going on an adventurous journey and, at Gold level only, taking part in a residential activity.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award levels

Setting yourself up for success.

There are a lot of activities you may already be doing that can count towards your Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Here are a few examples to help get you started:


Coach or manage a sports team, fundraise for a charity, volunteer at the SPCA, become a leader at a youth club.


Participate in a team sport such as soccer or netball, athletics, skiing, kayaking, kickboxing, horse riding, running, dancing.


Play a musical instrument, learn a craft such as jewellery making, referee or umpire for a sport, learn sign language, drama or theatre skills.

Adventurous Journey or Exploration

This is something that you will plan for, it involves being part of a team and completing an expedition for a set number of days.

Residential Project (Gold Award only)

Attend a residential programme for five days and four nights with people you don’t know and undertake purposeful activity – helping at a youth camp, attend a youth event overseas.

Want to know more?

We would love to talk with you about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. You can contact us or also view our FAQs here.