By Alex Monckton, 04 September 2022
Sometimes following the same pre-built routes through the wilderness just isn’t exciting enough, which is why orienteering exists; a sport that’s all about running wildly into the bush, testing your navigation skills and getting lost to your heart’s content. Despite being an incredibly fun and exciting activity, it isn’t hugely popular with many people who’ve never tried it before. So, I decided to run a VUWTC trip to go to one of the locally run orienteering events and let some newbies give it a go. It was a great success, everyone had a good time and I will definitely be running more in the future to help make it more accessible for keen trampers that want to do more.
What is Orienteering? - an overview
Your objective when orienteering is to navigate around a course on unfamiliar terrain in the fastest time possible using only a map and compass. The course consists of a number of controls that are placed at various locations around the map, and by using special (not-so-)high-tech orienteering gear, you can record whenever you visit one of them. Depending on where you’re orienteering, these bright white and orange controls can be set up (well, almost) anywhere to create a new unique course every time.
Courses range in difficulty levels, a beginner ‘white’ course will exclusively follow tracks, fences, or other obvious features, the challenge being knowing which one you're on and which to take at an intersection. This ranges all the way to the ‘red’ level where controls are far from these obvious features, out in the middle of the bush or somewhere where more complex symbols like detailed contours have to be relied on and compasses come very much in handy.
Otonga Score/Rogaine Event
The event we went to, run by the Hutt Valley Orienteering Club, was a type of orienteering called a rogaine. Instead of a fixed course we all had the same map of 27 scattered controls, and 1 hour to find as many as we could. In this type of orienteering you have the freedom to only visit the controls you want to find, and in what order, but you also have a time limit you have to be back by. The event was around Belmont park at the Oakleigh St entrance, with the majority of the controls in the bush but also a few out on the streets. There were a range of points up for grabs, but being late back after the time limit would mean point reductions (thankfully none of us were late). It is, however, important to punch the finish control otherwise you don’t get any score at all…