Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary, KG, ONZ, KBE, was a man of mountains and much, much more. Achieving global fame when he conquered the world’s highest mountain in 1953, he went on to achieve on many other levels – as an intrepid explorer, an Antarctic adventurer, an international diplomat and, perhaps most significantly, his years of dedication to the people of Nepal.

Issue information

When Sir Ed died in January 2008, New Zealand lost its greatest hero – a man who, despite his daring and sometimes dangerous exploits, remained humble and unassuming to the end. Described as the ‘quintessential Kiwi’, he epitomised our ‘can do’ attitude, tackling every challenge with tenacity, grit and a belief that nothing was impossible. In this special commemorative stamp series we pay tribute to this great man and his extraordinary achievements.

$50c – Sir Edmund Hillary
In November 2008, New Zealand Post was honoured to release five stamps, a first day cover and a presentation pack as a tribute to ‘our’ Sir Ed – an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary things, who tackled everything from aircraft navigation to beekeeping, mountain climbing to jet-boating, and international diplomacy to becoming the only living New Zealander to appear on our $5 note.

$1.00 – Mount Everest
It was the climb to the top of Mt Everest that earned Sir Ed his title – Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. On 29 May 1953, he and
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first in the world to achieve this feat, the only two of that British expedition to reach the summit.

$1.50 – Trans-Antarctic Expedition
Sir Ed’s explorations didn’t end with Everest. He climbed 10 other peaks in the Himalayas between 1956 and 1965, and in 1958 led a New Zealand group taking part in the British Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Sir Edmund Hillary’s group was the first to reach the South Pole overland since Amundsen in 1911 and Scott in 1912, and the first to use motor vehicles.

$2.00 – Himalayan Trust
Sir Ed’s work in Nepal was perhaps his greatest achievement. In 1960 he established the Himalayan Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the conditions and lives of the Nepalese, a people in desperate need of schools and medical services. In four decades he helped to establish more than 30 schools, two hospitals and 12 medical clinics, as well as two airstrips to make it easier to bring in supplies.

$2.50 – Knight of the Garter
In 1995, Sir Ed was appointed to the Order of the Garter, the highest possible achievement in the United Kingdom honours system. He also received a number of other honours, including the Indian Government’s second-highest civilian honour, the Polar medal (for his part in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition) and the Order of New Zealand. He also became an honorary citizen of Nepal, the first foreign national to receive such an honour from the Nepalese Government.

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 November 2008
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations: 50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50.
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Vertigo Design, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd - by offset lithography
Number of colours:  5 (4 process colours plus metallic silver)
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 50mm (vertical)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14.8 x 14.67