Silver Peaks - South Waikouaiti

Part 2 - Otago Tramping Club: The Thirties

The early 'Thirties was a period of world-wide economic depression, and had a profound effect on the lives and habits of people everywhere. The strengthening interest in tramping and mountain activities was widespread; in New Zealand there were spontaneous developments in many areas, partly the result of a recognition of the value of healthy recreation involving only minor expense. The Tararua Tramping Club had been formed in 1919, the Otago Club in 1923, the Canterbury Mountaineering Club in 1925, to name but a few. The 'Thirties saw an outbreak of new clubs in many areas.

On the local scene there was extensive development of active interest in the mountains. For seven years the Otago Tramping Club had been building up its activities. The Otago University Tramping Club was functioning very actively in some years, more modestly in others. Under the influence of Ellis, Miller, Boddy, Aitken and others, Otago men had been taking an active interest in the higher mountains in North-west Otago. At the end of 1930 the Otago Section of the N.Z. Alpine Club was formed in Dunedin, this being the start of a long period of friendly co-operation between trampers and mountaineers. In 1932, as a result of five weeks of continuous ski-able snow on Flagstaff, the Otago Ski Club was formed; the Tramping Club 'learned with interest of its formation and extended to it its good wishes for a successful future'. The three clubs operating in their respective fields worked in well together, with some members common to all, and with members of one of the clubs not infrequently becoming interested in the others.

During this period the life of the Otago Tramping Club continued at a fairly steady tempo. The membership had built up during the period 1925-32, but then fell quite sharply - due in part to the purging of un-financial members - and for the next 15 years was little over 100. Christmas trips became more far-ranging, from Ohau, Ahuriri and East Matukituki to Routeburn and Lake Gunn; while Easters covered a variety of areas mostly in Central or South Otago. As for the usual weekly trips, " every effort has been made to provide the greatest possible variety in the fixture cards, at the same time keeping the cost to a minimum ".

It was in this period that the Club did its first hut-building. In 1932 it had donated £5 to the N.Z. Alpine Club as a contribution to the cost of Cascade Hut in the Matukituki Valley. At the end of that year permission was obtained from the Dunedin City Council for the erection of the Club's own hut on a site selected on Section 3, Block X, Silver Peak District. This venture was approved at a special general meeting of the Club on March 16, 1933, when the Committee was authorised to spend £50 on the scheme. A packing contract of £30 was let, and working parties from the Club, assisted by parties of helpers from the N.Z. Alpine Club, proceeded to get the materials transported and hut erected. Access was by the old Sawmill track from near the Leith Saddle, and it was a grand sight to see the team of oxen hauling their sledge up the bush track, then along the narrow ridge from Hightop to Green Peak. In 1933, Club accounts record the total cost of the hut (less donations) at £48.16.10; so it is clear that some good planning and keen financing was involved to keep within the budget. Green Peak Hut was officially opened on June 3, 1933, and over the next few years it became the main base for Club activity.

Now that the Club had acquired property, it became necessary to give it proper legal standing, and shortly after it became duly incorporated.

A year later, in September, 1934, the Club's first publication appeared 'Outdoors No. 1'. Originally a very modest pamphlet-style publication, it has had many changes of content, format, size and style, but it has continued over the years to record at least some of the thoughts and experiences of Club members. The first Editor was C. Lucas, for many years Town Clerk of Dunedin, who, over a long period, showed himself an excellent friend of the Club. Social activities at this period consisted mainly of fortnightly or monthly gatherings. At various stages there were reports of the " Club Orchestra ", and of the plays, music, dances and magical performances that were presented at these functions. By these means the Club's spirit and enthusiasm were maintained and developed.

OTC / OTMC History 1923-2013

The Early Years (1923 - 30) - The Thirties - The War Years and the Post War Renaissance - The Fifties - The Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations - The Sixties - The Early Seventies - 1973/83 - 1983/93 - 1993/2003