Intro to Tihoi

Tihoi Venture School is New Zealand’s only 18-week back-to-basics outdoor programme designed specifically for St Paul’s Collegiate School Year 10 boys.

During the 18-weeks, students experience academic, social and outdoor challenges that help them:

  • become independent, resilient and self-managing
  • develop self-esteem and personal motivation
  • learn to meet challenges and work with others to achieve goals
  • acquire the motivation and desire to extend their limits to achieve personal bests
  • live with others and learn to tolerate different personalities
  • improve their fitness
  • learn to appreciate the outdoors
  • make lifelong friendships with boys who are going through the same life-changing experience

What is the Tihoi experience?

The second campus of St Paul’s, is located on the western side of Lake Taupo, nestled on the edge of the Pureora Forest.

For two terms of the academic year, Year 10 boys leave behind devices and mobile phones to enjoy a digital detox. They are placed into communal living with seven age-mates, regular schooling and outdoor experiences.

Here they learn to live and work together, taking responsibility for their own house-keeping, preparing their own meals on wood-burning stoves and meeting a range of personal and social challenges.

Each week, the boys spend three days outdoors and four days in the classroom where they study all the mainstream subjects.

Outdoor pursuits include white water rafting and sea kayaking, sailing, rock climbing, mountain craft, caving, bush survival, tramping, mountain biking, canoeing, abseiling and the high ropes challenge course. All Tihoi staff have extensive training and the qualifications needed to supervise outdoor pursuits.

Both the outdoor, academic and social programmes are underpinned by a virtues and values programme that develops young men into independent, responsible and contributing members of society.


Tihoi has been awarded:

  • Best New Zealand Outdoor Programme (2003)
  • Outdoors Mark (2004)
  • Best New Zealand Outdoor Facility (2007)


Tihoi operates within a strict code of practice. Our policies for each outdoor pursuit and within the centre obey national guidelines. The outdoor pursuits we practice have inherent risks. Ongoing risk assessment, adherence to industry standards, staff training and comprehensive safety management scheme minimise these risks whilst maximising challenge and potential outcomes for the students.

Tihoi and its safety management systems, staffing competencies and policies are annually audited by OutdoorsMark, a nationally accredited outdoor audit agency.

Staff qualifications

All full time staff are residents of Tihoi and are trained teachers and outdoor instructors. Teaching staff are invariably degreed and have the necessary teaching qualifications. Outdoor instructors have the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Qualification (or the equivalent). All staff are trained in first aid.