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The North Canterbury Alpine Trust is the ‘not for profit’ operator of the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre. 

We are an incorporated society (CT 1975/6, 11th July 1975), with GST registration (19 264 076), charitable status (CC 29732).

The Trust was established in 1972, the purpose being “to build a mountain hut for the students of Rangiora and Kaiapoi.”  Today we are about excellence in outdoor education and recreation with our clients coming mostly from the Secondary Schools of Canterbury. In 1978 with the help of many the Boyle Lodge was opened. To learn more download the complete history in the book written by Colin East.


2018 saw the Boyle receive two separate awards! A year where so many young people, each with their own story of challenge and success have attended life impacting programmes at the Boyle. See below for the real life journeys of our youth, our future!

MSC award.jpg

This is what the judges had to say:

Sustainability is at the core of all that Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre does, they believe that if people feel a sense of belonging, connection and appreciation for the environment they are more likely to commit to sustainable practices. Through partnerships with DoC they have created a career pathway for people to become DoC rangers and with Skills Active the ability to deliver assessment opportunities for youth which they may not otherwise be able to access. Their proposed virtual adventure based learning will be a combination of technology and the outdoors environment that will see Boyle River brought to life in the classroom through the use of virtual reality.

NZRA Outdoor Awards
North Canterbury Business Awards

North Canterbury Business Awards judge’s comments:
The Judges commented that Boyle River Outdoor Centre continues to really make a difference in the lives of the 2000+ young people that attend the facility each year and have done so for over 40 years The organisation looks to remain relevant and continues to develop Leadership and other programs designed to make better people out of today’s young adults. The business is well run with a strong governance model

The Potential Leader

The Boyle has been helping develop young leaders and twice a year runs the Boyles own Potential Leaders Programme. Ella Ward Head Girl of Motueka High School attended one programme and had a great article written about what she achieved by Skills Active.

The Gateway Student


The Boyle Gateway Programme is not your ordinary programme. With 4 parts to the course the time to develop and learn is increased dramatically. A programme designed to enlighten and lead students on a career pathway to becoming an Outdoor Leader or DOC Ranger. In 2018 we had a team of young people from as far away as Masterton to Christchurch take part. One student reflected that they wanted to "Obtain more leadership skills and experience new activities" and that she achieved this goal. She worked under the mentorship of the Boyle River Senior Instructor, on an Expedition Programme where the participants completed aspects of The Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award. She said, her confidence using in-field communication equipment was increase and a big increase in tramping skills along with what is crucial to the safety and facilitation of the experience, managing the group.

The St Thomas Boyle River Rite Journey

The rumble of the bus as it pulled into the Boyle River carpark was quickly replaced by the students’ chatter, their anticipation palpable and grumbling good natured. The moment has arrived where they will tackle the fifth stage of their year long Rite Journey Programme part of the Year 10 curriculum at St Thomas of Canterbury.

Tucked away on the edge of the Boyle River, at the southern end of the Libretto Range is the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre. In 1972, a member of the Belfast-Kaiapoi Rotary Club suggested, ”…build a tin shed somewhere up in the mountains where our local high school kids can experience the high country of Canterbury.”

“I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and it made me feel better about myself.” BROEC student.

After several years of planning, embellishment, consultation, research, tireless effort and the establishment of the North Canterbury Alpine Trust (NCAT), The Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre (The Boyle) was opened in 1978. The initial objective was to provide outdoor educational experiences now 40 years on from when the doors first opened, they run a multitude of different style programmes.  

“The St Thomas of Canterbury College year 10 ‘Rite Journey’ boys programme is designed to support the development of self-aware, socially just, responsible, respectful, resilient and worldly adults.
It raises the young men’s consciousness about the transition from boyhood to being a man.
Throughout the ‘Rite Journey’ students explore and discover connections, communication, challenges and celebration. It links extremely well with the schools Edmund Rice philosophy; of having an educated heart and educated mind.”

The 4 day programme at The Boyle forms the fifth stage of the Rite Journey. It takes the students on a journey of challenge, exploring who they are and their transition into adult hood, becoming a man and entering the senior school. On camp students undertake activities while discovering challenge, teamwork and that they are capable of more than they thought.

When the moment arrived to set off from the repack site, where students have just had their gear checked and packed. A low hum of enthusiasm pulsed through the group as they headed towards the Sylvia Canyon. Under a beach tree covered in mistle toe the students find the safety equipment for this activity and their first clue in a series of challenges that will lead them to tonight’s dinner. The team don’t realise it yet but the decisions they make have real consequence! Across the Lewis River and up into the lower reaches of the canyon surrounded by sub-alpine beach forest, the students find before them two roaring waterfalls, the big pool seemingly endless, the water clear and ice cold. Kitted up in wetsuits, spray tops, pfd’s and helmets the students make their way under the waterfall before taking the plunge into the water. All going to plan the students have conquered the challenges, deciphered the riddles and made their way to where their dinner has been stashed.

“I was extremely anxious and nervous about the solo, I had to really dig deep and use all the strategies and confidence I had to stay out. The next day a huge weight was lifted and I felt so stoked to have achieved this, I knew it wasn't that bad and my mindset had shifted, I look forward to my next big challenge.”

Ben Harrison YR 10 St Thomas

Day 2 sees the students wake to the morning bird song. Tomtits, and Piwakawaka flitter around picking off the morning namu namu (sandflies). Students will embark on a 18km tramp today making their way along the Boyle River heading south. Along the way, students undertake challenges including two river crossings, a stretcher carry and learn about navigation and tramping skills.


“Camp was a great opportunity to make me reflect on how grateful I am for the small things, it pushed my boundaries and it was a great way to use the skills of the Rite Journey around resilience and taking my mask off.”

Roman Bradbrook YR 10 St Thomas

Each night the students make their way to a different campsite firstly staying in tents then under flys, then finishing under a bush bivy they build themselves.

Two parts remain of camp, the Challenge Arvo and the 24 hour solo. A time for reflection of, who they were, who they are and who they want to become.

“The Rite Journey Camp at the Boyle River is a highlight of the programme, it places the boys in an uncomfortable, different environment and they have to use all the knowledge and skills they have learnt building towards it, seeing the share delight on the boys faces once they have conquered fears is awesome, seeing the young men working together outside the classroom and using life skills like team work, communication, helping others who need it help to mould them into fine young men.
The year 13 boys later on in their schooling are asked of highlights of their school career and the Boyle River is always one of the major ones.”

Richard Washington-Rite Journey Coordinator 

Day 4 comes around quickly and a sense of achievement can be felt as students share stories with each other of their individual journeys. This week has been an opportunity to explore and discover consciousness, connection, communication, challenge and celebration. These young men will continue their journey into adult hood having stepped out of their comfort zones to learn more about themselves.

“After four days in the bush our boys return to Christchurch equipped with the life skills and resilience to face the many challenges life will throw at them. The Boyle River camp is the perfect environment to foster their transition from boys to men.” Paul Burton, Rite Journey Teacher at St Thomas of Canterbury.

Experience the Boyle!

These activities will be led by trained and qualified instructors from Boyle River Outdoor Education
Centre [BROEC]. BROEC is a Canterbury based Outdoor and Adventure Education provider - we hold the ‘AdventureMark’, New Zealand’s leading outdoor safety audit certificate, and is registered with Worksafe
NZ as an Adventure Activities provider - as required under the HSWA (Adventure Activities) Regulations
2016. Thorough hazard management, staff training, equipment checks and emergency response
systems are in place.

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