Sir Edmund Hillary has long been the most famous and admired New Zealander, and his death in 2008, aged 88, has probably raised his profile further. His ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 with Tenzing Norgay was undoubtedly an impressive achievement, and his humanitarian work in the villages of Nepal was widely lauded, but above all, Hillary embodied the qualities Kiwis hold most dear: hard-working, straight-talking, honest and, most of all, modest. As he famously said on his return from the successful summit attempt, “Well George, we knocked the bastard off”. That’s what gets your face on every $5 note in the country.

Though he grew up near Auckland, Sir Ed did much of his early climbing around Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, where a bronze statue of a youthful Hillary stands outside Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

New Zealand’s craggy coastline and beautiful national parks beg to be explored. The scenery gets more spectacular around every corner, with beaches, vineyards…

21 Nov 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right