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These 7,000+ historic photographs from Sir Edmund Hillary’s extensive personal collection provide a first-hand look at his world-leading expeditions, from the summit of Mount Everest to the South Pole in Antarctica. Also his early life beekeeping in Dargaville, later travels with his young family, and his subsequent humanitarian work around the world.

Recognised internationally for its importance, this collection has been placed on the UNESCO International Memory of the World Register alongside other documentary heritage taonga The Treaty of Waitangi and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.

Hillary family life
Collection Images

Hillary family life

This collection features childhood photographs of Edmund Hillary growing up with his family in Dargaville, Auckland, and on the family apiary in Tuakau. It also features later photographs of Edmund Hillary’s own young family as they travelled the world on lecture tours and expeditions.

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June, Ed and Rex at Tuakau. PH-2010-4-P14-F5-019. © All rights reserved. More information ›
Mountaineering in NZ
Collection Images

Mountaineering in NZ

Before Everest, Edmund Hillary took part in many tramping and climbing expeditions across New Zealand throughout the 1940s. Many of these climbs took place in the Southern Alps in the Aoraki Mt Cook area, providing Hillary with challenging environments in which to refine his mountaineering skills.

Hillary, Ruth Adams and Mick Sullivan’s historic ascent of the South Ridge of Mount Cook in February 1948 was overshadowed by an accident a few days later on Mount Perouse which required a dramatic high-altitude rescue expedition. Some of these moments can be seen in this collection of images.

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[Aoraki/Mt. Cook] © All rights reserved. PH-2010-4-P17-F3-p4-2. More information ›
Reaching Everest
Collection Images

Reaching Everest

This collection features images of Sir Edmund Hillary’s travel throughout the Himalayas including his historic first ascent of Mount Everest with the British Expedition of 1953. The Tibetan name for Mount Everest is Chomolunga, which can be translated as Goddess Mother of the World.

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[High camp below Mt Everest, Nepal - Mt Everest]. © All rights reserved (Royal Geographic Society). PH-2010-4-S3-F10-16. More information ›
Black and white negative depicting children helping with building work, Khumjung School, Nepal.
Collection Images

Development in Nepal

Khumjung School was built in 1961 with the help of Hillary and his team, and locals from Khunde and Khumjung. Many communities were eager to continue this development and with the support of Hillary and the Himalayan Trust they were able to build schools, hospitals and other key pieces of infrastructure in the remote mountain areas of Nepal.

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Black and white negative depicting children helping with building work, Khumjung School, Nepal. © All rights reserved. PH-2010-4-P2-F1-077. More information ›
The Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition and the search for the Yeti
Collection Images

The Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition and the search for the Yeti

Public interest in the Yeti, a legendary creature of the alpine regions of the Himalayas, attracted funding for Hillary’s 1961 Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition. This expedition was primarily a scientific study into the effects of high altitude on climbers’ bodies, but also included an eight-week trek in search of evidence of the abominable snowman.

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[Edmund Hillary with a painting of a Yeti]. © All rights reserved. PH-2010-4-P14-F18-060. More information ›
Sir Edmund, Peter and Belinda fossick for remnants of the 1953 expedition at the old base camp. Icefall behind.
Collection Images

Hillary in Antarctica

A few years after Everest, Hillary had another opportunity to achieve a world-first when he was invited to lead the New Zealand division of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1956. This was an ambitious project that involved the establishment of Scott Base and became a full scale expedition to reach the South Pole over land on specially modified tractors.

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[Sir Edmund, Peter and Belinda fossick for remnants of the 1953 expedition at the old base camp. Icefall behind]. © All rights reserved. PH-2010-4-P5-F2-034. More information ›
From Ocean to Sky
Collection Images

From Ocean to Sky

The Ocean to Sky expedition of 1977 saw Sir Edmund Hillary and his party, including his son Peter, travel up the sacred Ganges river in jet boats, in an attempt to follow the river to its source in the Himalayan Mountains. Captured by Michael Dillon and depicted in his film From the Ocean to the Sky, this was one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s last major expeditions.

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[Cloud formation]. © All rights reserved. PH-2010-4-P5-F6-034. More information ›

Hillary's Everest Diary Entries