Kōrero: Youth organisations

Whārangi 4. Outward Bound, adventure and travel

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Outward Bound

The Outward Bound Trust originated in Britain. It opened its first school in 1941 at Aberdovey, Wales. It has no religious foundation, but shares with many other youth organisations a focus on outdoor pursuits. New Zealand’s Outward Bound School at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds opened in 1962.


Outward Bound students are dropped off in the bush by boat for overnight solo experiences. This is an excerpt from the diary of one student: ‘It rained after Frank left. The bush filtered a lot of it and I hardly got wet. Feel lost without a watch. Very peaceful just lying here by myself. Did some sit-ups and press-ups. Sat and thought what I want to do with my life.’1

Participants originally stayed at Anakiwa for 16 days but in the 2000s course lengths varied. An intensive and disciplined regime of group outdoor pursuits in spartan conditions (including a solo overnight stay in the bush) sought to impart self-reliance and self-belief. Courses were initially for men only and it was not until 1973 that the first women went through Anakiwa. The focus for many years was on youth but over time this widened to include disabled groups and people aged from 13 to 80. By 2010 more than 48,000 people had been through Anakiwa. In 2017, 1,681 people engaged in an Outward Bound challenge at Anakiwa. Thirty-three per cent of those participating in Outward Bound courses that year were aged 13–17, and 35% were between 18 and 26.

The Spirit of Adventure Trust

The Spirit of Adventure Trust aims to develop character by offering young people trips of up to 10 days on a sailing ship. The trust is funded by voyage fees, members’ subscriptions, grants, donations and sponsorship. Volunteers assist the professional crew and support the ship on port visits.

‘Roughing it’

Camping was an integral part of many youth organisations. Physical exercise in rural settings, self-discipline and ‘roughing it’ were considered both morally and physically beneficial.

The trust’s first vessel, the Spirit of Adventure, operated from 1973 until 1997. The three-masted Spirit of New Zealand came into service in 1986 and in 2010 spent around 340 days at sea. Most voyages were out of the ship’s home port of Auckland but it also sailed around the country. Around 1,000 to 1,200 15 to 18 year olds took part each year, and by 2015 more than 70,000 young people had taken a voyage.

Youth hostels

Youth hostels originated in Germany in 1909 when Richard Schirrmann, a schoolteacher, founded the first hostel as a place for travelling youth to stay in the countryside. The idea spread to other countries.

In New Zealand a Youth Hostels Association was formed in 1932 by Christchurch woman Cora Wilding, who wanted to set up hostels similar to those she had seen while travelling in Germany. She persuaded several Banks Peninsula farmers to provide accommodation for trampers. A chain of hostels on the West Coast followed. From 1934 until 1938 she acted as honorary organiser, preparing handbooks, visiting all the hostels annually, and arranging a youth hostellers' visit to Britain in 1937.

Early hostels were run by volunteers, so their opening hours were limited. Youths staying at hostels had to do chores. A national council formed in 1955 and by 1965 there were 39 hostels and more than 7,000 members. In the early 21st century youth hostels formed part of an international network of cheap accommodation popular with backpackers. Members of the Youth Hostel Association can stay in youth hostels at reduced rates and receive discounts on travel and activities.

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Don Grady, Outward bound at Anakiwa. Auckland: Century Hutchinson, 1987. p. 76. Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Helen Dollery, 'Youth organisations - Outward Bound, adventure and travel', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/youth-organisations/page-4 (accessed 16 July 2024)

He kōrero nā Helen Dollery, i tāngia i te 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 31 Jan 2019