The Nitty Gritty

Here's the 2016 detailed stuff as a guide for what to expect. The 2017 version will be posted in October. It will be pretty similar, but there will be some new "fine print" around the night option. Simon Rea is no longer involved with Downtown Backpackers, but its still an option for out-of-towners. For making travel plans:

  • ​Saturday Night Rego/Maps provisionally from 8pm, rogaine 9-12
  • ​Sunday morning 9hr Rego/Maps from 7am, rogaine start 8am
  • ​Sunday morning 6hr Rego/Maps from 10am, rogaine start 11am (along with 9hr teams who have done 3hrs already)
  • ​Sunday afternoon 3hr Rego/Maps from noon, rogaine 1-4pm (along with 6hr teams who have done 3hrs already)
  • Sunday afternoon finish times 4pm (3hrs) and 5pm (6 and 9hrs) Bunfight to follow.

This is the detailed "what/where/when" - rules of the game - maps and cards - and safety. We date each section and note when there are updates. We made some last-minute updates to the safety section on 22 and 24 Nov. Right down the bottom is the minimum gear list for all teams.



2016 wording installed 14 Oct

The event is a "rogaine" as defined below under "Rules of the game". Course planners Keri Devine and Rob Smith, current NZ mixed open and vet champions, have set out 50-odd controls including 10 close ones that will suit family groups. So there's something for everyone.

You have 4 or 8 hours to maximise your score by visiting control points. Visits are confirmed by successfully answering a simple question. This is usually a man-made feature or an orange ribbon with a code-word on it. The post-race meal will be the traditional barbeque, augmented with some other goodies mainly so we can serve it up faster. We hope for a benign summer evening so you can lounge around the base and swap tales.

This area is wonderful on a good day. There are some controls in the valleys and near the almost flat Orongorongo Track, but to get the big points you'll have to go up or down the river, or climb to the ridges. These go up to Mt McKerrow in the north which is 700m, though the highs in the south are only about 400. There's a network of tracks from easy to faint. And there will be off-track controls too, generally on passable streams or ridges. There's no ambo access in here, so you need to prepare for a forced immobility. There's a compulsory gear list, come prepared, and if not needed, all teams are "in the same boat".



2016 wording installed 14 Oct

Rimutaka Forest Park. Apart from the Catchpool Valley and the Orongorongo Track, its a steep native forest area. There are lots of easy tracks near the start which are well signposted. Beyond that it's less well-defined tramper type tracks. Ridges and the main streams are quite good travel; so is the Orongorongo River if previous rainfall has been low. You'll need to cross and re-cross it though. There's an all-weather track alongside some of the river.

The start is at Catchpool Stream, where there is ample parking, toilets and picnic facililties. Find it 10km south of Wainuiomata via Coast Road. To get to Wainui from Wellington, take SH2 to Petone, exit there and follow Wainuiomata signs. These will take you over a hill into Wainui where you will pick up Rimutaka Forest Park signage. Its basically straight through.

If you're from out of town you can camp there, note that there's an entrance gate that closes at night. Or if you want the bright lights after your exertions, rogainer Simon Rea runs Downtown Backpackers opposite the Wellington Railway Station.



2016 wording installed 14 Oct

The date is Saturday 26 Nov 2016

  • Checkin Opens 0730. We will want to check that (a) your team is there and (b) the people on your entry form are present and (c) you have the mobile phone you quoted.
  • Maps available for 8hr teams 0800
  • Submit "flight plans" by Briefing 0850
  • Start 8hr rogaine 0900
  • Maps available for 4hr teams 1200
  • Submit "Flight Plans" by Briefing 1250
  • Start 4hr rogaine 1300
  • Finish both rogaines 1700, food available from 1645

Out of towners, we suggest you plan to spend the Sunday in Wellington. Stroll round a previous 1-hour rogaine in the morning, the maps and questions are on the web. A good one and really close to Te Papa is a City Safari Prologue which is listed under "Wellington Waterfront". This will only take you half an hour at a walk but that may be all you want! For something longer, ask us for leftover maps from the last 3hr afterwork rogaine.



2016 wording installed 14 Oct. Actually this is the same as last year and the year before. Pretty much the norm for OHV rogaines.

If you haven't done a rogaine before, its a navigation contest for teams. You score points by visiting points marked on a map, choosing your own route so as to finish before the time limit. Big-time rogaines are run in rural terrain and last up to 24 hours. Getting started rogaines are run close to home from one hour long. Either way you choose the points to visit and the route to suit your inclinations - competition or recreation. Rogaines always have both sorts of people.

The BigTrig Rogaine is a medium-sized rogaine with some of the labour-saving features which have enabled Orienteering Hutt Valley to run more rogaines than anyone else in New Zealand. Here are the rules as they apply to the BigTrig. Read the full NZ Rogaining Rules here.

  • You must take part in a team of 2-5 people.
  • The objective is to maximise your score. The control points are marked on the map with a circle and a number. Control points are worth the "tens" digit of the number multiplied by 10. That is, number 25 is worth 20 points, control 101 is worth 100. We may also use numbers 1-9 which are worth 5 points. We sometimes make up artificial numbers, eg after we get to 39, we go on to 3A, 3B etc which are also in the "30's" group. The start/finish is shown with a triangle.
  • There's a penalty for returning late: 10 points per minute or part thereof. Highest score wins, in the event of a tie the earlier team to finish is placed in front.
  • You prove your visit to each control point by answering a simple question about the landmark and writing it on your control sheet which must be named and handed in at the finish. Swapping information such as the answers to questions , or guessing, is cheating. Obviously we can't police it, we rely on you to play fair. Take a pencil and a spare. Actually an "Inkjoy" pen is cheap and works in the wet!
  • Sometimes there isn't a suitable landmark, we also use bright orange ribbons and the question will be "what is the code word on the ribbon?". Sample at the start. If the question is not crystal clear when you are at the landmark, don't spend more than 5min puzzling. Write down something unique about the place and carry on. Talk to us at the end, we want to credit you with all controls you have visited. This is not a championship!
  • Except in the case of emergency, team members must stay together, especially when visiting control points. You are not allowed to send the fittest team member up the hill to get the answer! If a team member has to drop out for any reason during the event you must tell us back at base; and from that time you are a new team starting with a score of zero.
  • You must travel on foot.
  • You must use the map we provide to navigate by. Navigation by GPS is not allowed. No objection to you carrying your GPS in tracking mode for later analysis (that's how we improve the maps) but it's not part of the game.
  • No dogs. Leave any gates as you found them, both on the course and the access roads. If you open a gate do not leave responsibility for closing it to anyone else. You open, you close.



2016 wording installed 14 Oct

The main map is A3, probably at a scale of 1:25,000, in other words enlarged a lot compared to the standard topo map. Contours are 10m. If you are used to an orienteering map it will be steeper than the contours you are used to. If you are used to a topo map it may be flatter than you think! Here's a little snippet from the 2013 map of Belmont Regional Park. You can download it here, if you print it to fit A4 you will see lots of detail but it will be 4X the normal scale!

The bush is mapped as medium green and rogainers would not expect us to show fast and slow. But we have shown a little bit of very passable bush as light green. And when we discover some awful stuff on a logical route choice, we have used a very dark green. The message is that the majority is middle green and its quite variable. Of course we haven't traversed it all!

Open land, well there's hardly any. Really smooth stuff like the camping and picnic area is bright yellow, rough stuff is pale yellow. Yellow with green spots is in between bush and open, and we've used it for a big area of logged forest which is being left to regenerate. It's nasty.

Out of bounds is shown in a couple of ways. Private land that we don't have permission for (areas outside the park, residential areas etc) is gray. There are areas that we SOMETIMES use but not this time. These are covered with purple stripes and you can't even use the tracks through them.

Fences are generally not shown on our rogaine maps (there aren't many anyway, and the topo ones are sooo out of date). We do have most of the tracks mapped. The shorter the dash the rougher the track.

We have a special "indistinct track" symbol. They could be be possum bait lines shown by small brightly coloured squares on trees, or routes marked by trampers with old less visible markers on trees. Bait lines don't necessarily follow good features like ridges. It is easy to lose the trail even when you are on it. As far as hitting one at 90 degrees, forget it. You would have to be lucky enough to strike it near one of those small markers. Tramper routes generally follow logical routes like ridges.

Control visits in this rogaine are claimed by answering a simple question, on the back of the map. You write the answers on a separate answer sheet. This way your map and questions can stay warm and dry inside a plastic bag (if you're careful). Name and number your card and take a plastic bag for that too (supplied). Don't forget a pen or pencil and a spare.

When you return you MUST report to the finish desk and give us your team name and number. We'll record you as "finished"; this is vital for safety. We'll also write the time on your scorecard and hand it back to you for adding up. Hand your completed card in WITHIN 10 MINUTES at the result display. No card no result.



2016 wording installed 14 Oct. Updates 22 Nov to reflect water supply, phone coverage, and the possibility of earthquake aftershocks.

This is a rugged area and sensible precautions are required.

  • We expect all participants to read the "Nitty Gritty" section of the website within the last week before the event; to read any last-minute warning signs at the event; and to attend the briefing.
  • Advise us of all changes to your team composition before you start; your team sticks together unless help is required in an emergency; and you report in at the finish. If you're not back, we'll generally start preparations for a search within 30min of the finish time.
  • Take at least one mobile phone with you - the one you confirmed at check-in. There is no coverage over most of the course, but if you have an incident you should try and get onto high ground where there may be coverage and get a message to us. If you are expecting to be more than 15min late then likewise tell us as soon as you can. For major safety issues of course try to phone 111 direct. Help other teams in trouble.
  • If you need to attract attention eg call another team in to help with an incident, the whistle signal is not set down in any rogaine or orienteering rule. The general NZ outdoor code (from the Mountain Safety Council) is three of whatever you have at hand - shouts, gunshots, or blasts on your whistle. But never mind the number, several short blasts, then a long pause, then repeat.
  • Give us a "flight plan" before you leave. This is a B/W copy of the map on which you sketch your intended route. Don't forget to name it, and don't forget some direction arrows! You will probably modify your route but it may help in an emergency.
  • We cannot guarantee the hot sunny weather that we obviously hope for. You must be prepared with the normal bad-weather gear. There's a list below which is compulsory for all teams. Yes on a nice day it may seem like overkill but let me tell you about an immobilising injury we had not to far away from here. The patient couldn't walk, the helicopter couldn't drop a line, the wheelie stretcher couldn't wheel, in the end the patient just HAD to struggle out with a helper each side. Prepare! 
  • If it is very HOT then take extra water with you. The risk of giardia is present in many NZ streams and we are not going to give you any assurances. You may replenish water from the tanks at the DOC huts in the Orongorongo valley and these will be identified on the map.
  • We are not earthquake experts, but a major aftershock is entirely possible. Effects could include slips and trees blocking tracks, and landslides especially in the steep Orongorongo valley. These might create a river blockage, which would eventually break and release water and debris. There is no hard and fast "recipe" for what to do. Staying put is an option. There are many huts on both sides of the river, although locked you could probably get in, in an emergency.

Our site-specific hazard register is here.

Here's the minimum gear list. It is per person unless otherwise stated.

  • Thermal top
  • Parka
  • Long pants (thermal or over-trou)
  • Hat and gloves
  • Whistle, compass
  • Survival blanket or bag
  • Torch
  • Food and water appropriate for the distance.
  • Simple first aid kit per team
  • A cellphone per team is compulsory, it may not work in some locations but it is so useful if it does.
  • Obviously you'll need a pack to carry this in.