Safety at Outward Bound - Outward Bound

Safety at Outward Bound

All our courses take place in Marlborough Sounds as they provide an amazing outdoor classroom! Our students are placed in unfamiliar settings where there are real consequences, providing an opportunity to learn through experience. We have a comprehensive and rigorous safety programme and strive to deliver quality courses in a safe and supportive environment.

Our objective: Outward Bound is committed to the provision of a safe and healthy workplace for its employees, students, service delivery partners, contractors and the general public.

What are the risks?

Potential risks

Your safety and welfare is our primary concern, however, you do participate at your own risk and there are times without direct staff supervision. Our courses are designed to be mentally, emotionally and physically challenging, with long days and a good night’s sleep not guaranteed. Activities occur in all weather conditions. When undertaking any activity, you will be briefed on the risks and how to manage them. There is a chance you could get an illness or injury, and may be asked to sit out certain activities.

There have been no major life-changing injuries at Outward Bound in over 20 years, however, serious risks can never be completely eliminated. These include death or injury from falling, drowning, burns, hypothermia, heat stress or road accidents. To reduce the likelihood of a serious accident we have a comprehensive safety management system as outlined below.

How we manage risk

Duty Managers

A Duty Manager is assigned daily and is dedicated to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff.

They are responsible for monitoring weather warnings from Metservice and communicating these to the relevant instructor, to ensure potential weather problems are identified in advance and activities are adjusted accordingly. 

They are responsible for managing any emergencies and being the go-to expert in any (extremely rare) crisis situations. 

Expert staff

Instructors are integral to safety. We select only the best for the job. We look for people who have the right combination of skills, experience and abilities. On top of their existing experience our instructors are required to complete an extensive training and induction programme.

New instructors go through a rigorous 2 month training programme followed by a 4 month probation phase. They continue to be mentored by senior instructors for their first year. All instructors undertake 3 weeks of staff training each year and are allocated funding to undertake further training with external providers. Instructors are employed full time for 3 year contracts.

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Quality equipment

Outward Bound uses modern, well maintained safety and emergency equipment appropriate to each activity. Critical safety equipment is subject to pre-use checks, monthly inspections and scheduled replacement to ensure it is fit for purpose.



ESAC is made up of outdoor sector safety experts. Alongside our Safety Manager and School Director, they advise the Board on health & safety matters. This includes oversight of our schedule of regular audits, and approving any substantial changes to our safety management policy or system.

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Audits and Inspections

We have three tiers of review 

1. Mandated audits 

  • AdventureMark (meets Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016) 
  • Outward Bound International 
  • Maritime New Zealand (Maritime Transport Operator Certificate and Outward Bound Launch Master training scheme) 


2. Voluntary external reviews or inspections 

  • Schedule and scope approved by ESAC 
  • Undertaken by technical experts 
  • Recommendations and Observations reported to ESAC 

3. Routine inspections and internal reviews 

  • Annual checks of critical infrastructure by external professionals 
  • Scheduled internal reviews of activities

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Key Contributors

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  • David Levene Foundation icon
  • Ben Gough Family Foundation icon
  • Andrew and Jenny Smith icon
  • Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust icon
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  • Four Winds Foundation icon
  • Acorn Foundation icon
  • Thanksgiving Trust icon
  • Tumu Group icon
  • Tai Shan Foundation icon
  • NZ Retail Property Group icon
  • Otago Community Trust icon
  • Lindsay Foundation icon
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  • IHC Foundation icon
  • Helbern Investments LTD icon
  • Friedlander Foundation icon
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  • Duncan Charitable Trust icon
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