Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


HILLARY, Sir Edmund Percival, K.B.E.

(1919– ).

Apiarist and mountaineer.

Edmund Percival Hillary was born at Auckland on 20 July 1919 and educated at Auckland Grammar School. In 1936 he left school to become an apiarist. During the Second World War he served for two years in the Pacific area as navigator on RNZAF Catalina flying boats. In 1946 he returned to beekeeping and went into partnership with his brother.

Hillary's private enthusiasm was mountaineering; and, after considerable experience in New Zealand, he led the New Zealand Gawhal Expedition in 1951. Later in the same year he joined the British Everest Reconnaissance Expedition and the British Cho Oyu Expedition for 1952. In 1953 he joined Sir John Hunt's British Everest Expedition, and on 29 May, with Sherpa Tensing, reached the summit of Mount Everest. For this exploit he was created K.B.E. In 1954 he led the New Zealand Alpine Club's Expedition to the Barun Valley, east of Everest. Early in 1955 he was chosen to lead the New Zealand Antarctic Expedition, 1956–58. During the International Geophysical Year he cooperated with the British Trans-Antarctic Expedition under Vivian Fuchs and, in January 1958, using motor vehicles, he completed the first overland journey from Scott Base to the South Pole. Since then he has led the Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition of 1960–61. Sir Edmund Hillary has published High Adventure (1955), East of Everest (with George Lowe) (1956), The Crossing of Antarctica (with (Sir) Vivian Fuchs) (1958), and No Latitude for Error (1961). He has been honoured by several countries and geographical institutions and holds the Star of Nepal (First Class), the Polar Medal, the Hubbard Medal (United States), the United States Gold Cullum Geographical Medal, and the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Recently Hillary has been associated with the Volunteer Service Abroad movement.


McLintock, Alexander Hare