Rogaining in NZ

A rogaine is a navigational contest for teams on foot.  It grew out of tramping in Australia in the 70's, and has been going in New Zealand since 1991.

Control points are marked on a map and teams of 2-5 people visit as many as they can within a fixed time. The classic rogaine is held in rural terrain over 24 hours. All teams start together, choose from the same controls, and finish together. Some teams are competitive; others enjoy the challenge and the scenery. New Zealand is good at competitive rogaining, with kiwi world champions and NZ twice hosting the world champs.

NZ's first rogaine was a 4-hr event in Belmont Regional Park, on 3 Feb 1991. Members of Orienteering Hutt Valley had experienced rogaines in Australia and Canada, and could see that this would add to the thrill of longer distance mapsport, previously represented in NZ by mountain marathons.

With a simple system of question-and-answer controls, OHV was able to run a rogaine each year alongside its traditional orienteering programme. More importantly other clubs recognised that navigation on topo maps was good fun and not that hard to put on. It attracted people who liked navigation but preferred longer distances. Trampers and adventure racers. It spread round the country.

The initial thought was to grow from 4 hours towards the 24hr "classic" rogaine, and Dunedin and Peninsula and Plains Orienteers (with a background of T'Walk events) went along that path. In fact PAPO was awarded the World Rogaining Championship in 2000. But while thinking about training for the worlds, OHV stumbled on a great idea. It put on a 3hr afterwork "practice rogaine" with unmarked controls. It was great!

The "shoestring" rogaine took off! The idea that you could rogaine after work near the city was a breakthough. Rogaines were run IN the city. Rogaines were run on mountainbikes. Rogaines were run on public transport. Rogaines were suddenly cool, with a greater recognition factor than orienteering. And yet the shoestring format, with 2 and 1hr events being called rogaines, made it clear there is really no difference. There is just orienteering/rogaining, urban and rural, night and day, short and long.

Dedicated rogainers formed the NZ Rogaine Association in 2002. Meanwhile orienteering clubs continue to run rogaines throughout New Zealand, and the NZ Orienteering Federation runs a rogaining website. Orienteering Hutt Valley has run over 120 rogaines.

Rogaining Round Wellington

Orienteering Hutt Valley runs the rogaining round the capital, while its neighbour Wellington OC concentrates on traditional orienteering. OHV is helped by Wellington Ridge Runners, a virtual club set up to promote long-distance off-road running. Its mailing list and Facebook group is the de facto advertising channel for rogaines round Wellington. OHV also runs a simple gateway for rogaine information:

With the popularity of close-to-home rogaines, the limitations of the topo map became felt. They don't keep up with the rapid changes round cities, and can't show all the tracks there are. (Kiwis have a track-building FETISH!) It just so happened that OHV was piecing together some maps it had made for street orienteering, and also developing track maps for MTB-orienteering. Member Michael Wood who runs MAPsport Services decided to roll them all together for Lower Hutt. Then he did Upper Hutt. The national grid ensured the two would fit together if necessary. Then he spread into Wellington. And Porirua. And Kapiti.

Currently the club has in the computer covering Waikanae south, and everything west of the Akatarawa Hill Road. Rogaine and MTB-orienteering planners report improvements and continually it gets better and better. Meanwhile, the five local authorities have all provided superior contours from LIDAR surveys, and 10m contours have replaced the 20's. The mapping is now geo-referenced to the NZ grid, NZTM.

A salient move has been to use MTB-orienteering track symbols. They are just as good for "footies" as any other black lines, and they make the mapping multi-use and increase the number of users reporting updates. The scale is nominally 1:20,000. It can be printed at 1:25,000 (with a bit too much detail in some places) and smaller pieces can be enlarged to 1:15,000 or 1:10,000. The knowledge embodied in the mapping has been provided free to Greater Wellington's Cycle and Walking Journey Planner.