the 'Otago Daily Times', 23rd August, 1923:
Ladies and gentlemen
interested in the formation of a 'Tramping Club' are invited to
attend a meeting to be held in Mr. Diver's Board Room, Grand Picture
Palace Building, tonight (Thursday), August 23, at 8 o'clock.
'Otago Daily Times', 24th August, 1923:
and enthusiastic meeting was held in Mr. E.S. Wilson's Board Room
last night for the purpose of forming the Otago Tramping Club.
There was an attendance of fully 60, including a large number
of ladies. Mr. O. Balk, who was voted to the chair, referred to
the great advantages which Dunedin offered to a Club of that nature.
He pointed out the benefit to be derived from such healthy exercise
as tramping in the hills, and the elevating effect it would have
on the mind. In the Taurua Tramping Club, of Wellington, which
had now completed it's fourth season, they had an excellent model
to work upon as regards rules and procedure.
A decision to
form the Club, proposed by Mr. R. Gilkinson, and seconded by Mr.
F. W. Clayton, was carried.
Committee were elected: Messrs O. Balk (President); R. Gilkison
and F.W.Clayton (Vice-Presidents); C.J.Hayward (Secretary); E.
Miller (Treasurer); A.E. Gascoigne, P.L. Ritchie, R.B. Hamel,
and Misses E. Webling and M. Le Brun. Messrs J. Knox, I.B. Mackie
and Miss E. Harrison were later co-opted on the committee
meeting was convened by a small committee headed by Mr. Balk and
Mr. Gilkinson. It is interesting to note that these gentlemen
had independently conceived the idea of the formation of a Club,
and both had written to the Taurua Club asking for advice and
information. From their enthusiasm and that of their colleagues
arose the early success and progress of the OTC.
of the club was not an isolated event. Dunedin had been the home
of a good many noted trampers and mountaineers such as Malcolm
Ross, Kenneth Ross, H.F. Wright, J.K. Inglis, E. Miller and E.
A. Duncan. In the earliest post-war years groups of Otago University
students - G. M. Moir, R. S. M. Sinclair, D.R. Jennings and many
others - had been exploring and track-cutting in the Hollyford
and Cleddau Valleys. And both the hills around Dunedin and the
Routeburn, Greenstone and Hollyford areas saw an ever increasing
number of visitors. Amongst these the idea of forming a Club had
been discussed informally, and the idea was quick to gain acceptance.
The new Club
immediately started with a flourish, and forthwith set out to
walk. There was an immediate rush of new members, and at the end
of the first year the roll was 157. The first tramp was planned
for Saturday afternoon, September 1. About 50 members assembled
at Ross Creek reservoir and set off up the Pineapple Track to
Flagstaff - a clear sunny day, with a cold south-westerly wind,
the kind we know so
The following Saturday some 60 persons gathered at the Gardens
corner for a climb of Signal Hill and down the other side to Burkes;
and this was followed the next day by a trip to Whare Flat, where
various parties converged on a pleasant river-bank below McQuilkan's
(long since washed out by floods and ruined by the invading gorse).
A fortnight later while one group climbed Mt. Cargill, two others
set off for Whare Flat - one of which made the journey successfully,
but the other was stopped and warned off by Ben Rudd, the old
hermit whose property was long afterwards purchased by the Club.
Scott Gilkinson was one of those cut-off and still remembers the
feelings of alarm as they encountered the stocky, bearded little
man with the shot-gun. As a result of this, the Club arranged
with Ben Rudd that he would cut a track through the manuka scrub,
thus providing a route to Whare Flat while keeping members well
away from Ben's property. For this he was paid the princely sum
of £5, and the track was under very heavy use for the next II
years until it was blocked by extensive scrub fires in 1935.
1923, saw a massive gathering on Silver Peaks. Club weekend parties
went by way of Whare Flat and Mt Allan, by Bendoran, and by Waitati-Red
Hut; and on Monday they were joined on the Peak by another party
of about 40 who had come by the Central Otago train to Mt Allan.
About 70 Club members were joined on the top by some 30 others;
the summit was crowded and the water supplies in the vicinity
were severely taxed.
The first Christmas
saw a lot of activity on the hills round Dunedin, while one party
spent a fortnight based on the shearers' quarters at Cecil Peak
of Club activities had now fairly well settled down. For a period
tramps were organised for both Saturday afternoons and Sundays,
both being well supported. Saturdays then started to fall from
favour, and for a while were dropped from the programme; a few
years later the call for Saturday outings developed again, and
as they gained in favour the Sundays dropped off. Over the years
there have been many changes in the pattern of Club activity,
but always it has endeavored to meet the demand and give satisfaction
During the period
up to 1930, the Club roamed far and wide over the local hills,
while Christmas trips saw visits to Milford Sound, Cecil Peak
and Fox Glacier. The membership dropped sharply in the first two
years; some of those who had rushed to join at the start found
that the Club was not just what they wanted, and by 1926 the roll
had dropped from 157 to 73. Then a more healthy growth developed,
and for the next 20 years the membership varied between 100 and
developed at an early stage. At a special general meeting in 1924
" dancing was indulged in till II p.m. and all went home pleased
with their evening's enjoyment ". Also in 1924 a Military Pageant
was staged at Carisbrook in aid of the War Memorial Fund; the
ladies of the Club ran a refreshment stall while some of the men
joined in the Pageant as " The Yeomen of the Guard ". Then the
Club ran a successful Kitchen Stall at an Oriental Bazaar in aid
of St. John Ambulance Association funds. A framed list of outings,
surrounded by views of typical beauty spots, was on display at
the N.Z. and South Seas Exhibition, 1925-26. Soon after this the
Club began supplying the Press with regular reports of day and
weekend trips. This lasted for about two years, and was replaced
by a series of radio talks over 4YA.
The first Club
Room was opened in 1927, and operated every second Wednesday in
the International Harvester buildings in Castle Street. Over the
following years the Club Room idea was maintained, with varying
support, in several different locations; but it did not, at this
stage, play the vital part in the Club's life that it has done
in recent years.
Mr. Balk was
followed as President by Mr. Gilkison, after whom came Messrs.
Knox, Clayton, Lumb, Kennedy, Gascoigne and Ritchie. During this
period two particularly competent Secretaries kept the Club's
affairs in order: Mr. I. B. Mackie (1924-26) and Mr. G. A. Pearson,
who held the position from 1927 until he left Dunedin in 1939.
Messrs. Hayward, Knox and E. W. Hunter also carried this responsibility
for short periods.
By 1930 then,
the Club was well established as a force in the community. Whereas
previously trampers had been looked on almost as cranks, or at
best as rare curiosities, their activities were now accepted as
rational and respectable. The 'thirties, and the onset of the
Depression, saw the Club ready to play its part.