TSB TOPEC was formed in 1986 by a Charitable Trust of interested parties to provide outdoor education to Taranaki school students. The thirteen Taranaki secondary schools form the main user group of the organisation. Throughout the school year, year 9 and 10 students attend TSB TOPEC for residential courses involving adventurous activities; year 11-13 students complete NCEA courses and leadership training.

In 2017, TSB TOPEC became a Private Training Establishment accredited by NZQA to deliver qualifications on the NZ Framework. Currently, we offer a Level 3 NZ Certificate in Outdoor Experiences with a Level 4 qualification in the pipeline for 2020.

Activities facilitated at TSB TOPEC include Rafting, River Safe, Kayaking, Tramping, Bush Craft, Navigation and Survival, Caving, Climbing, High and Low Ropes Courses, Abseiling, Adventure Based Learning, Sailing and more.

TSB TOPEC has accommodation in cabins for up to 80 students with separate staff quarters. When on residential courses, students prepare their meals in the large commercial kitchen. The Eco Leadership Lodge is a fantastic recent addition to complement the Main Lodge and separate classroom facilities.

Facilities and accommodation have always been available for private hire at weekends (weddings!!) and holiday periods.


Christine ‘Grover’ Worsfold
Christine ‘Grover’ WorsfoldA registered Teacher and highly qualified Outdoor Instructor, Grover brings over 25 years in the outdoor teaching profession to TSB TOPEC. She graduated from Otago University School of Physical Education before progressing to teach, manage and develop outdoor programmes at TSB TOPEC, Taranaki Polytechnic, Sport Taranaki, the West Coast’s Tai Poutini Polytechnic and various schools in New Zealand. She has returned ‘home’ to TSB TOPEC.

Grover has also worked as a technical expert for outdoor audits, assisted in writing specific outdoor NZ Activity Safety Guidelines and delivered Tourism Industry Association workshops for OutdoorsMark audits. She also currently assesses for Skills Active and NZOIA. Her extensive knowledge, experience and zest for life are integral to the quality and vitality of the outdoor education programmes at TSB TOPEC.

Claire Allen
Office Manager
Claire AllenClaire joined the team at TOPEC in 2017 as their administrator. She comes with a background in banking and account management through her various roles in the private sector. Claire has also given her time to the wider community, volunteering in various roles in social, school and sporting groups.

Claire, along with husband Terry, are parents of three girls – all of whom attended TOPEC in their high school years. Claire has seen first-hand how the TOPEC experience can benefit and encourage students to push boundaries and enlarge expectations.

Justin Bigwood
Leader of Learning
Justin BigwoodJustin brings over 20 years of teaching and educational leadership to TSB TOPEC. With our status as a PTE and secondary school outdoor education hub, Justin leads our rigorous moderation of assessment and ensures the effectiveness of our delivery of education programmes. His stand-up desk in the office allows him to quickly escape the office and get amongst all that Taranaki offers in the outdoors. In between tramping, mountain biking, running the dogs, and sport coaching, his creaky back struggles away trying to cope with surfing and mastering golf

Katrina Shepherd
Teacher / Instructor
Katrina AllenKatrina started her outdoor career as a Ski Instructor in Japan before adding raft guiding, and rock climbing, kayaking and tramping instructor to her resume over the last 20 years. Katrina takes a holistic approach to teaching and instructing, believing in positive interactions where students ask questions, explore, and discuss to solve problems.

Katrina is a grade 2 Raft guide, a NZOIA Rock 1 and Bush 1 instructor and has kayak and alpine leader awards. Being born and educated in New Plymouth, and also having raised a family in Taranaki while gaining a degree in Sustainability and Outdoor Education, means kaitiakitanga forms a strong component of Katrina’s involvement with students.

Seton Pennell
Lead Instructor
Seton PennellSeton (that’s NOTES spelt backwards!) has travelled the world living and experiencing working cultures in many different countries. He has worked in jobs, ranging from being a sailing instructor in Turkey, indoor rock instructor in England, white water raft guide in Argentina and working for outward bound in Australia.

Seton has loved the outdoors since he was a kid whether it was eeling, sailing, camping or swimming in the sea or rivers. His personal hobbies now are rock climbing, hiking, sailing, kayaking, camping, and sharing the outdoors with others so they experience the adventurous outdoor excitement that is on offer at our backdoor.

Josh Kirby
Josh KirbyJosh came to TOPEC at the beginning of 2016. He arrived with a Diploma in Outdoor Adventure from Whitireia Polytechnic. Josh loves sport, playing basketball and volleyball, and is passionate about rock climbing and being in the bush. He has qualifications in Bush 1 and Rock 1 from NZIOA, PHEC, and is a Grade 2 Raft guide.

Josh is a vibrant, involved member of the community. If you are ever looking for Josh around the TOPEC grounds, he can usually be located by his loud singing voice.

Zoe Avison
Zoe AvisonZoe completed a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation majoring in Outdoor Education and Sport Management. She then set off to travel Europe and also worked in Norway as a sea kayak guide.

Zoe’s love for the ocean brought her back to New Zealand and eventually back to do what she loves most in her hometown, working with youth in the outdoors. She has qualifications in sea kayaking and white-water raft guiding.

Sam McComb
Sam McCombSam has recently returned to Taranaki from Otago University where he also gained outdoor qualifications from Otago Polytechnic. Sam’s love of the outdoors began at Fitzroy Beach and progressed to the riverways and native bush surrounds of his home town, New Plymouth. He has NZOIA Bush, Rock and Abseil Leader awards.

Alan Sarten
Alan SartenAlan has been part of the TSB TOPEC operation for a long time. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in and around Taranaki. He has recently returned from his South Island OE where he showed his mettle in the cold South Island rivers and mountains.

Alan is a Taranaki Dairy Farmer and shows this in his instructional style – a down to earth approach. He is also famous for his cheesy jokes which always make a group groan. He is a Grade 3 Raft guide, has Bush 1 and years of rock, and caving experience.

Board of Trustees

Callum Mahy ( Chairperson )
David Grigg ( Deputy Chairperson )
Kirsty Linnell ( Treasurer / Secretary )
Philip Hewlett ( PPTA Rep ) – HoD OE, New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Martin Chamberlain – Principal, Francis Douglas Memorial College
Matt Lash – HoD PE, Francis Douglas Memorial College
Grant Robinson – Teacher, New Plymouth Girls’ High School