Sustainability leadership is more about who you are, than what you know.

Natural Change is not your regular leadership programme.

Natural Change shifts the focus of sustainability leadership from seeing nature as a set of resource problems which need technical solutions, toward developing strong personal relationships with the rest of nature. This impacts our sense of identity – which fundamentally shapes the ways we live and lead.

The programme takes place almost entirely outdoors … because that’s where we most easily experience ourselves as a part of nature. It builds on this personal experience with powerful insights about the psychology of our relationships with each other and the rest of nature. These are then applied to leading organisational and social change.

Read more about the Natural Change approach …


Through the Natural Change programme you will:

  • gain powerful insights into personal and social psychology that can be applied to leading change for sustainability;
  • sharpen your sense of purpose and commitment to bringing about transformational change;
  • deepen your love of nature to make leading for sustainability liberating and inspiring;
  • build a personal framework for leading change – based on your own experience and appropriate to your own unique context;
  • explore the relationships between ourselves, the cultures in which we live and the environment upon which we all depend;
  • find ways to communicate more clearly and effectively about sustainability issues;
  • learn how to create psychologically savvy change strategies based on ecological principles;
  • discover how to better engage stakeholders using psychological concepts and techniques;
  • find ways to sustain yourself in challenging times and to transform overwhelm into action;
  • explore ways to cope with personal and collective ‘eco-trauma’,and ‘eco-anxiety’;
  • become part of a unique professional peer community to give and receive support and find new opportunities and initiatives;
  • develop strategies for dealing with conflict around ecological issues;
  • investigate how to research and evaluate change initiatives using cutting-edge methods;
  • tap into your creativity to help a more vibrant, beautiful and sustainable world emerge.

Who it’s for

Natural Change is for you if you want to respond to our urgent ecological situation by leading transformational change in your team, organisation, community or sector.

It is likely you will be feeling a bit disillusioned with the business-as-usual and ‘same-old’ approaches to leadership and change. You will probably be fascinated by the idea of breaking-through the cultural conditioning that causes us to think and behave as if we are not part of nature.

Natural Change maximises the positive effects of extended time in wild places to engage your full range of human capacities. It creates a powerful mix of logic, emotion, instinct and imagination. It provides an unrivalled opportunity to reflect profoundly and explore how you and your organisation will respond to the defining challenges of our age.

Natural Change is suitable for leaders that are either newly concerned or have a long-standing commitment to sustainability.

It is recommended that you bring around five years of professional leadership experience to the programme. However, each application is considered individually, so please do ask if you’re not sure.


The programme blends two, one-week wilderness residentials at the Hillary Outdoors Leadership Centre with four hours of online coaching and a one-day urban workshop, over a six-month period.

There is also an assignment to be completed between the two residentials. This is based on desk-research and the preparation of a short presentation (max 10 minutes), which will be made to the group at the second residential.

PreparationA one-to-one online coaching session (one hour).
Residential ONESix days at the Hillary Outdoors Leadership Centre, Tongariro.
Online learning & CoachingThree, one-to-one online coaching sessions (one hour each).

Guided reading, assignment.

Residential TWOSix days at the Hillary Outdoors Leadership Centre, Tongariro.
Urban meetingA one-day workshop in an urban centre (AKL or WGT CBD)
CoachingOPTIONAL: Ongoing coaching support.
ConsultancyOPTIONAL: Support with a professional project

Duration: 13 days over six months.
Contact time: 108 hours.
Ratio: ten clients to 2 facilitators.

Further coaching and consultancy is available for those who would like continued support after the course.

Who runs Natural Change?

Natural Change is delivered through a collaboration between Hillary Outdoors and Natural Change NZ. 

They have combined their resources because they share a commitment to sustainability and understand the unique role that outdoor experiences can play in catalysing and supporting sustainable lifestyles and leadership.

The programme is led by David Key, working alongside Hillary Outdoors senior instructors – who are some of the most experienced and highly qualified outdoor leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand.

David Key – Natural Change programme leader

Dave works at the intersection of outdoor leadership and Ecopsychology. Since 1996 he has designed and delivered outdoor programmes for psychological wellbeing and sustainability to a wide diversity of organisations and individuals worldwide. He has also taught, supervised and researched extensively in the academic sector and is published in several languages.

Dave holds a BA (Hons) in Design and a MSc (Dist) in Human Ecology. He is a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology (UK) and is on the editorial boards of several international journals. He is a National Governing Body qualified outdoor instructor in both the United Kingdom and Aotearoa New Zealand.

More …


The residential workshops are held at the Hillary Outdoors Leadership Centre in Tongariro, in the Central North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. The urban workshop is held in either Auckland or Wellington CBD.


NZ$12,995 per person, plus GST.

Includes: 90 hours (APPROX) of residential contact time on a maximum 2:10 basis; 12 nights single-room accommodation; residential catering; group outdoor equipment and; personal safety equipment. Four hours online contact time on a 1:1 basis; access to an extensive library of resources; reading guide and; access to a private online forum.

Excludes: Travel to/from residential venue; personal travel and possessions insurance; personal outdoor clothing.

Book a course for between six and ten people.
Choose your own dates.
Adapt the format to fit your needs and context.

Residential ONE: 11 – 16 Sep 2022
Residential TWO: 5 – 10 Mar 2023
Urban workshop: TBC Apr 2023

Location:Residential Workshops: Hillary Outdoors Leadership Centre, Tongariro, Aotearoa New Zealand

Urban Workshop: Auckland CBD

Duration:13 days over six months
Format:Two, six-day residential wilderness workshops

A one-day urban workshop

Four hours of online coaching

Contact time:108 hours
Ratio10 clients to 2 facilitators
Price:NZ$12,995 plus GST

A collaboration between Natural Change NZ and Hillary Outdoors.

“Natural Change is definitely the most powerful and long lasting experience I’ve ever been part of.”

Louise Macdonald OBE
Chief Executive,
Institute of Directors Scotland.

“The experience was truly incredible, and I was taken by surprise at the level of intensity and personal response.”

Brenna Nyznik
Education Programme Manager,
Mercy Corps

“It will take you to places you haven’t imagined… it will be truly formative as an investment of your time and energy.”

Gill Troup
Vice Principal,
University of the West of Scotland

“Natural Change gave me a deeper sense of resilience, and more rounded, grounded and compassionate approach to work, life and its balance.”

Gavin McLellan
Development Manager,
Life Flight Trust

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