(This article updates previous
articles by Ron Keen, 1923-73, Richard Pettinger, 1973-83 and
David Barnes, 1983-93)
The AGM in August 1993 marked
the completion of 70 years of continuous activity for the
OTC/OTMC. Antony Pettinger was elected to a second term as
President, along with an experienced Committee to run the club.
Among the topics discussed at the AGM was an old favourite, the
future of the annual 'Outdoors' magazine. A later Extraordinary
Meeting . The Annual Dinner was held at the Botanica Restaurant
commemorating the 70th anniversary of the club.
In September 1993 the OTMC
enthusiastically supported the Department of Conservation taking
over the ownership of the Otago Central Rail corridor from
Middlemarch through to Clyde
Another first for the OTMC
occurred in November 1993 - a kayak trip to Lake Manapouri. Led
by Justin Calder, this trip has become a popular trip for the
club, sometimes combined with a mid-winter trip to Moturau Hut
on the Kepler Track.
After the success of an
earlier mid-week trip to the headwaters of the Mavora Lakes, Ian
Sime led a second expedition to the area in October 1993.
A Pre-Christmas social was
held at the Mt. Fortune Woolshed behind the Razorback Range.
Although the weather could have been kinder, the weekend was
enjoyable. A few keen trampers climbed Mt. Fortune itself on the
To conclude 1993, Elspeth Gold
organised a second OTMC Pantomime in December. The event can
best be described as memorable.
1994 started well financially
with a grant from the St Kilda Tavern enabling us to purchase
First Aid Kits, a snow shovel, billies and fuel bottles as well
as some guide books for our library.
After a low number of
participants in 1993, the club's Bushcraft course attracted 29
keen participants. Antony Pettinger was again the Director, with
the course format following that of recent years. The course was
notable for the very inclement weather during the Silver Peaks
Weekend. The continuous rain combined with the ever present mist
on the tops made for a very miserable trip for everyone. Both
the participants and the leaders learnt a great deal during the
weekend - some participants decided that tramping wasn't for
them, while the leaders, with the benefit of hindsight, decided
that the weekend should have been postponed. One party was
beaten back by the near zero visibility at The Gap and were
forced to retreat to ABC Cave and spend a second night in the
'Peaks. A reconnaissance search party met them (in glorious
sunshine) near Yellow Ridge the following day.
Another event that affected
the OTMC in early 1994 was 'The Big Flood'. A lot of the areas
we tramp in were subjected to flooding on a scale not seen for a
long time. The Routeburn Track alone was out of action for
months, with the Army called in to help repair the section
between the Glenorchy Road-end Shelter and Falls Hut. Other areas
were also affected, such as the Ohau valleys, the Hunter, and
some Makarora valleys. The effects can be still seen now, with
some area's receiving little or no maintenance over the
Anzac Weekend 1994 enabled the
club to run a highly successful 3-day trip to the Eglinton
Valley and environs. Led by David Barnes, 40 people travelled by
bus to their drop-off points for 3 days of late autumn tramping.
One party took advantage of the fact that the Milford Track had
just entered the off-season, meaning that this legendary track
could be tramped without pre-booking.
The Department of Conservation
consulted with the OTMC during 1994 regarding the club's views
on signposting the tracks in the Silver Peaks. The club believed
that signposting should be confined to the outer fringes of the
reserve, leaving the inner section from Green Hill to The Gap
largely signpost free. The club agreed that significant track
junctions like Yellow Ridge/Rocky Ridge should be marked with a
metal standard, but otherwise once you pass the Green Hut site
you need to rely on your experience. The club also promoted the
upgrade of the Hightop/Green Hut Site/Possum Hut/Hightop circuit
as a possible solution to lesser experienced trampers venturing
into the Silver Peaks area. To date, this has not happened.
Social evenings continued to
be well supported, with one night in 1994 particularly standing
out. We were lucky enough to have Peter Hayden as a guest
speaker. Renowned for his work with Wild South and Natural
History, Peter gave a fascinating talk on the journey along the
southern 45th Parallel during the making of a television series.
The 1994 AGM saw the start of a discussion on transport for
weekend trips. The method of using mattresses on top of the
packs in vans was deemed unsafe, so an alternative was sought.
By using seats in the back of the vans meant that an alternative
method had to be found for transporting the packs. After a long
drawn out period including 2 EGM's the decision was made to use
a trailer to carry the packs. The St Kilda Tavern again helped
us out with a substantial grant towards the purchase.
The club continued looking for
new places to visit. The Albertburn Valley was chosen for the
3-day Waitangi Weekend in 1995. Trevor Deaker was the leader and
several parties visited the area from different directions,
including a crossover from the Wilkin Valley. The Albertburn
Valley was one of the valleys hit hard by the 1994 floods, with
most of the lower tracks washed away and the Albertburn Hut
rolled up into a steel-clad ball by a slip.
After the good number of 29
participants in 1994, Bushcraft '95 attracted 14 people. It is
thought that one of the reasons for the decline stems from the
changes in peoples working hours. The introduction of the
Employment Contracts Act meant that many people no longer had a
traditional Saturday/Sunday weekend.
At the 1994 Annual General
Meeting, Peter Mason was elected life member of the OTMC.
In July 1995 Bruce Newton led
a return kayak trip to Lake Manapouri, a role that he has
excelled in over the years.
Two motions presented to the
AGM in 1995 were bound to generate discussion. One was an
attempt to increase membership of the club by reducing the
annual subscription by 50%. This was not carried. The other
motion regarded another AGM favourite - the Ben Rudd/Flagstaff
property. The motion supported disposing of the property. After
some debate it was decided to retain the property…in the
In a one-off trip for the
OTMC, Barry Wybrow organised a crossing of the Copland Pass.
Titled the Champagne Copland Crossing, the logistical nightmare
turned into a memorable trip for the participants. Unfortunately
Paul Bennington was struck by a dislodged rock and had to be
flown of the mountain.
The debate at the AGM
regarding Ben Rudd's prompted renewed interest in the property,
with a harvest of Christmas trees from the property being sold
prior to Xmas '95 as a fundraiser.
1996 saw a debate regarding
the cost of trips. The outcome was that all weekend trips using
hired vans shall be the same cost, regardless of destination. As
it has turned out, the club still more or less breaks even in
running the weekend trips.
December 1996 saw a group of
club members practising river safety skills in the West
Matukituki. Mountain Safety had introduced some new crossing
methods which were being practised on this trip. The OTMC
Bushcraft has taught the updated methods ever since.
Bushcraft in 1997 was unusual
in that the course was not run, the only year the course hasn't
gone ahead since the 1960's. The course was to be a joint
venture between the OTMC and Mountain Safety Dunedin. When
course numbers failed to reach a set number of participants the
course was cancelled. The OTMC held an instructional evening,
prior to taking the interested ones on a tramping trip to the
Greenstone / Caples area.
1997 also saw the running of
the 25th Silver Peaks Marathon. Interestingly, it was 'won' by
Dick Brasier, who had also won the first Marathon in the 1970's.
Trip numbers declined sharply
in 1997, with several trips being cancelled, including the
normally popular Easter trip. On the upside, the club visited
Mt. Somers for the first time in a while. The Mt. Somers area
has now become a very popular destination, with the last bus
trip run by the club going to Mt. Somers.
A sub-committee comprising
Robyn Bridges, Peter Mason, Wendy Brasier, Dave Still and Antony
Pettinger commenced planning for the 75th Anniversary of the
OTC/OTMC, to be held during August, 1998. A feature of the
planning was a 'coast to coast' traverse of the lower South
Island. Starting in Big Bay, trips were to be held throughout
1998, culminating in a trip to St Clair Beach.
The OTMC went 'high tech' in
1997 with the launch of the OTMC website. Our presence on the
Internet has resulted in a lot of queries to the club, and
several new members.
The issue of the Ben Rudd
property arose again in the latter part of 1997. A proposed
programme of weed spraying costing $9,000 was presented to the
Committee. This sparked the question of who is best to
own/manage the property. An Extraordinary General Meeting was
held in November which first mooted the idea of a trust being
set up to manage the property, with the OTMC retaining
ownership. The trust was ultimately adopted in July 1998. To
many, the decision has been a win/win for the club and the
The first outing of 1998 was a
late Christmas trip travelling from Big Bay to Glenorchy,
forming the first leg of the 75th Anniversary Traverse. A late
surge in Bushcraft registrations saw 31 people participating in
the 1998 course. The optional weekend at Ohau was wet, and saw
some parties frustrated by the river conditions.
The second trip of the 75th
traverse was held at Easter 1998, travelling from Glenorchy
(Lake Luna) thru to Macetown. Other trips held during the year
were Macetown to Cardrona, Cardrona to Cromwell (via Pisa
Range), Cromwell to Clyde (kayak and bike), Clyde to Middlemarch
(via the Rail Trail, Middlemarch to Pineapple Track (via the
Silver Peaks) and the last stage through Dunedin to St Kilda
The 75th Anniversary was held
at the end of August, and was a great success. The structure was
much the same as the 50th and 60th anniversary's, with a social
night on the Friday, and open day on Saturday at the clubrooms,
followed by the Anniversary Dinner. Sunday offered people the
chance to visit the Ben Rudd property.
The OTMC elected Antony
Pettinger as a life member of the club at the 1999 AGM.
The Easter 2000 trip headed to
George Sound from Lake Te Anau. While the trip was a success,
the area proved to be challenging.
After Antony Pettinger wrote
to the Bulletin that the club had found itself in a 'rut', plans
were made for the club to formulate a strategic plan to assist
with forward planning of club activities. Our vision is 'to be
the strongest recreation club in New Zealand'. After a flourish
of activity, interest in the plan has waned.
The 2000 AGM commenced an
ongoing discussion regarding the club's huts. It was suggested
at the AGM that Big Hut should be gifted to a like minded group.
A replacement for Jubilee Hut was also discussed.
Trip numbers started to rise
again after a decline in the late 90's, with 290 people tramping
in the 2000/2001 period. Bushcraft 2001 attracted the largest
number of participants since 1991, with 37 entries.
A work party in early 2001 at
Big Hut saw 2 days work carried out in one, due to a blizzard
preventing access on the Friday night. This was in January!.
A new committee role has been
fulfilled by Greg Powell, that of Funding Officer. This has
proved a great success, with the first year seeing us purchase 5
sets of crampons, as well as 40 metric maps with monies received
The major event of 2002 was
the opportunity for the OTMC to develop a new walking track in
our area. The Committee decided that the missing link in the
Dunedin Skyline would be the track with the most benefit to the
city. The OTMC is constructing this track in conjunction with
the DCC, with funds generously donated by Barbara and the late
Dick Calvert, along with Bob and Evelyn Entwistle.
The Easter 2002 trip to areas
at the headwaters of Lake Wakatipu was hit by some very nasty
weather, meaning most trips were curtailed. All Great Walks in
the area were also forced to close.
The Easter holiday and ANZAC
weekend combined nicely in 2003, with the club making the most
of the opportunity. The Easter trip went to Makarora, with two
notable trips being undertaken. One was the classic
Makarora/Hunter/Wills through trip, and the other being the
rarely visited Tiel Creek, crossing over to the Siberia valley.
Five days of glorious weather for both trips.
As Easter marked the end of
the summer season on the Milford Track, the OTMC took the chance
to repeat the early 90's trip 'Droflim' (Milford Backwards)
during ANZAC weekend. Numbers were limited to 30 to reduce
overcrowding - although dozens of other people had the same idea
as us. A second trip was run to cater for the OTMC overflow. In
all, 43 members enjoyed the area, but over 100 in a 40 bunk hut
was too much. At least the weather remained fine; if a little
windy on McKinnon Pass.
The OTMC continues doing what
it does very well. It is more than a tramping club, it is a
social outlet and for some it is a way of life. The club caters
for many different needs, be it overnight trips, a day trip, or
a social night out once a week. There is also the history of the
club, the need to keep fighting for recreation and conservation
values in our beloved backcountry and the need to continue
education in tramping safety in New Zealand's hills. Ultimately
the OTMC is the people in the club - I look forward to being a
part of the OTMC for the next 10 years.