Rogaining in New Zealand

New Zealand has a history of endurance sporting events, and there is a helluva lot on offer. You can run up and down mountains, you can race across the South Island from one side to another, you can do competitions where the organisers throw various modes of transport at you, from kayaks to horses to flying foxes.

For those who like a bit of thinking to come into the equation there are mountain marathons and rogaines. The navigation means that brain can often outwit pure brawn. There was a run of mountain marathons during the 80s, but there hasn't been one since 1994. Rogaines have taken their place.

Rogaining started small when a couple of Hutt Valley orienteers went in one on a trip to Canada. They put on a little one, just four hours, in 1991. OHV has run one at least every year since. Orienteers in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago have since come to the party.

Meanwhile Dunedin OC decided to go the whole hog, and it ran a classic 24-hour event near Wanaka in 1994. Some of the Christchurch orienteers took up the challenge with another full-size event in 1997. And then we stuck our neck out and bid for the World Championships! We got it, and it was run at "Solomons Throne" in North Christchurch in January 2000.

If you think that was impertinent, remember that we had a history of running mountain marathons. The Christchurch area also has a 30-something-year record of a thing called "T'Walk", which stands for Twenty-four-hour Walk". It's sort of like a rogaine, it obviously goes through the night and the organisers feed you, you just have to take the controls in a certain order.

The World Champs has raised the profile amongst the nutters who like punishing their bodies, and also outdoor enthusiasts who like a problem or two to solve on the way. Meanwhile, in what started as a training exercise for for the World Champs, little 3-hour mini-rogaines have sprung up. These might be on weekends but mostly they are after work on the urban fringe or even in town! In fact there's even an urban rogaine in which you can use public transport!

Most rogaines in NZ are run by orienteering clubs, and the NZ Orienteering Federation has a which runs this website. Most of us see rogaining as a long-distance form of orienteering, just as athletics goes from 100m to 42k and beyond. Some rogainers felt that a separate organisation was needed and set up the NZ Rogaining Association. You can judge from the complete results list which structure is most effective. You can also see that one or two entrepreneurs are regular rogaine organisers - eg Lactic Turkey Events in Auckland.

Miscellaneous links:
Rod Costigan's book "Organising a Rogaine". This is the definitive work on the topic of rogaines as run in Australia, but don't be put off by the high standards practised there. Rogaines in NZ started off much simpler, and can even be run with no control markers!!!

This page is maintained by and was updated on 16 Aug 06.
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