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A Century of Trailblazing in New Zealand

Original 1919 expedition

THE Tararua Tramping Club marks its 100th anniversary this weekend, making it one of the oldest clubs in the country, and will celebrate pioneering organised outdoor recreation in New Zealand.

To observe the major milestone, this Sunday (June 30) the club will recreate its first tramp undertaken in 1919 from Johnston Hill to Mt Kaukau along Wellington’s scenic Northern Walkway in the Johnsonville hills.

Former club president and centennial committee member Chris Munn, who is organising the commemorative tramp, expects good numbers if Wellington turns on the weather.

“We could have a couple of hundred people along, ranging in age from five to 80. It’s a lovely tramp on a nice day – two to three hours of pretty easy going with magic views,” he says.

However, Mr Munn says the club’s inaugural outing was an inauspicious one, with two members of that first party getting lost in fog. Fortunately, it ended happily with the missing trampers being located.

“Although looking fine and sunny this Sunday a good dose of Wellington wind is possible so trampers should still be prepared, but a repeat of the 1919 incident is highly unlikely,” says Mr Munn.

The club’s founding fathers – Mr W.H. Field, MP for Otaki, and Mr F.W Vossellor who “called a meeting of tramp enthusiasts… to consider the formation of a Tararua Club in Wellington” – created an outstanding legacy.

Today the club is one of the largest in the country, some 700 members strong, and takes in people from all walks of life and all ages. What’s more, organised tramps have become a popular pursuit and tramping clubs have sprung up the throughout the country.

“The Tararua Range is such a dominant feature of the lower North Island,” says Mr Munn. “It dominates our geography, our weather, our lifestyle and recreation – in that regard, little has changed over the last century.

“Perhaps that’s why the club has always been so attractive to people living in the lower North Island, and why the club remains in such good stead 100 years on from its inception.”

Other celebrations are also on the cards. A book commemorating the club’s centenary has been published – Leading the Way, written by Shaun Barnett and Chris Maclean – and will be launched in early July.


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