Are you 18 or younger?
Have a love of adventure?

SEACHANGE is a mailing list for young people who might one day step aboard the Spirit of New Zealand.

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About The Trust

Our mission: "To empower young New Zealanders to reach their full potential through the challenge of the sea”

Spirit of Adventure Trust was set up in 1972 by Lou Fisher who had a vision to empower the youth of New Zealand.

The Trust has gained and maintained a reputation in New Zealand as a highly respected youth development organisation providing a unique environment for youth development, where the focus of learning is on team-work, developing skills of communication, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-esteem, resilience, confidence and leadership. Learning to sail a tall ship is only a small part of the programmes offered.

We’ve taken tens of thousands of young New Zealanders to sea on voyages of personal discovery on board our tall ship, Spirit of New Zealand. Although we’re described as a sail training organisation, our main objective is to develop positive qualities in our young people.

Today, Spirit of New Zealand is believed to be the world’s busiest youth ship, sailing around ten months of the year. Subject to stringent, on-going maintenance surveys, refits and audits, Spirit of New Zealand is expected to be able to continue operating youth voyages until around 2035.


All of our people live and breathe our values every day:

  • Excellence

    By aiming high and persevering in the face of difficulties

  • Innovation

    By thinking critically, creatively and reflectively

  • Diversity

    As found in our cultures, languages, and heritages

  • Equity

    Through fairness, social justice and citizenship

  • Community and participation

    For the common good

  • Integrity

    Which involves being honest, responsible, accountable and acting ethically

  • Environmental sustainability

    Care for the environment

  • Impact

    Making a difference socially and emotionally

Chairman's Message

Chairman, Stephen Fisher

"Since its inception in 1973, the Spirit has become an iconic expression of youth, ships, people, the sea and opportunity combining to create positive outcomes for the trainees nationally with ripples around the world.

Clearly demonstrated outcomes include leadership, independence and community spirit and are apparent in the trainees as they step ashore. This reflects our robustly reviewed belief that the Trust's youth development programme continues to be effective for today's young people.

Dedicated, qualified and competent crew ensure the challenge remains for each voyage and encourage individuality with an understanding of co-operation, instilling discipline whilst providing a safe, friendly and enjoyable environment and retaining a sense of adventure.

The Trust strives to offer equal opportunity to all young New Zealanders to participate in our development voyages. This equal opportunity is provided by way of voyage subsidies and potential trainees are encouraged to apply. There is no reason why any young New Zealanders who are eligible for a voyage should miss this opportunity for financial reasons.

The Founder of this Trust, my late father Lou Fisher, would be as proud as I am, along with our Board, staff and supporters, of the progress that has been made since 1973; progress that has and continues to deliver a world recognised life-changing experience that is accessible to all young New Zealanders."

International Awards

  • 2016 - Volunteer of the Year
    Tony Cummings (long-time volunteer)

    Awarded to a volunteer who has made a notable contribution to helping young people achieve life-changing experiences through sail training.

  • 2013 - Sail Training International Friendship Trophy

    Presented to the ship’s company that has contributed most to promoting international friendship and understanding.

  • 2013 - Janka Bielak Medal
    Captain Nigel Wright

    Awarded to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to international friendship and understanding.

  • 2011 - Young Sail Trainer of the Year
    Luke Galuszewski (First Mate)

    Awarded to the highest performing sail trainer under the age of 25.

  • 2010 - Sailing Trainer of the Year
    Captain Paul Leppington (Marine Director/Senior Master)

    Awarded to the highest performing professional sail trainer overall.

  • 2009 - Volunteer of the Year
    Sheila Budgen (long-time volunteer)

    Awarded to a volunteer who has made a notable contribution to helping young people achieve life-changing experiences through sail training.

  • 2008 - Sail Training Organisation of the Year (large vessels)

    Awarded to an organisation that demonstrates excellence, innovation and best practice leadership training for young people at sea.

Crew Awards

Topgallant Award

This award was introduced in 1998 to recognise outstanding service over a period of more than ten years. Both volunteers and the Trust’s permanent staff are considered eligible. Generally two are given annually.

Topsail Award

This award was introduced in 2001 to honour outstanding service by a past participant who has contributed their time over a period of three years or more. Generally one is given each year.

2019 Award Winners

  • Topgallant Award Winner - Andrew Spencer

  • Topgallant Award Winner - Andrew Moore

  • Topgallant Award Winner - Sarah Jane Guild

  • Topgallant Award Winner - Suzy Carryer

  • Topgallant Award Winner - Keith Maydon

  • Topsail Award Winner - Dayna Johns

  • Topsail Award Winner - Lewis Gordon

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