A piece of Mt Everest rock is expected to fetch up to $30,000 when it is auctioned in Auckland next week.

Portraits of Sir Edmund Hillary would also be up for grabs, believed to bring in a couple of thousand dollars between them.

The memorabilia was collected from the Everest Base Camp in May 2003, 50 years after Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stepped onto the summit of the world's highest mountain.

The rock was mounted and the framed mounting has been signed by Hillary, his son Peter Hillary and Tashi Tenzing, the grandson of Tenzing Norgay.


The rock was one of three brought back to New Zealand after Peter Hillary was part of a mission to Base Camp where he hosted the 50th celebrations of the conquest of Everest.

It will be up at an auction of modern and contemporary art at the International Art Centre in Parnell, Auckland, next Wednesday.

International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said the signatures and the piece of rock made the offering unique.

"Sir Ed has been part of the lives of all New Zealanders since he stepped on to the summit of Everest.

"He is absolutely revered as an explorer and a philanthropist. He is one of the most recognised New Zealanders in the world yet he was one of the most down to earth people in the world," said Thomson.

The sale will also feature a rare black and white photograph of Hillary thought to have been taken in 1952, the year before he climbed Mt Everest.

It shows him wearing a beekeeper's hat and veil at the family beekeeping farm at south Auckland.

Photographer Des Howard's black and white print was expected to sell for up to $1200.

It was one of the few photographs taken of Sir Ed before his ascent of Everest made him a household name.

A painting of Sir Ed by Nigel Brown, Small Hillary Icon, was expected to bring between $5000 and $8000.

Brown completed the painting after being the first artist in residence at Antarctica in 1998.