Famous New Zealanders

Edmund Hillary

  • Born 20 July 1919, in Auckland.
  • Had first experience of the mountains on a class trip to Mount Ruapehu.
  • Went to university for two years but left to join his father and brother in the family bee-keeping business.
  • In 1939 climbed his first mountain (Mount Olivier) in the Southern Alps.
  • Joined the air force in 1943 as a navigator. Spent spare time climbing in the Southern Alps as much as he could.
  • 1949 climbed in the Austrian and Swiss Alps.
  • 1951 joined NZ expedition to Himalayas, then joined British team exploring the south-western side of Mount Everest and looking for a possible route to the summit.
  • 1953 joined British team led by Colonel Hunt in attempt on Everest.
  • 29 May 1953 Hillary and the Sherpa climber, Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest at about 11.30 am.
  • After the Everest expedition Hillary married Louise Rose. Family of one boy, Peter, and two girls, Sarah and Belinda.
  • 1955 led New Zealand support team for British Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Vivian Fuchs.
  • 1960 led expedition to Himalayas to hunt for the yeti and research effects of high altitude on climbers.
  • Set up Himalayan Trust in 1964 to build schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people in Nepal.
  • 1975 wife Louise and daughter Belinda killed in plane crash in Nepal.
  • 1978 led expedition to follow the Ganges River to its source.
  • 1984 became NZ High Commissioner to India.
  • 1987 made a member of the Order of New Zealand.
  • Remarried 1990.
  • 1995 awarded the Order of the Garter by Queen Elizabeth II.
  • 2003 returned to Nepal for the festivities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest.
  • 2008 died, aged 88.

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