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Group shot . . . Roz Armstrong (left), Jac Carlson, Gail Papps and Margie Smith at East Matukituki in 1995. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Oamaru is a small town but it is home to hundreds of different clubs and organisations. The Oamaru Mail has decided to find out more about some of them. This week, Daniel Birchfield takes a look at the North Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club.

There is one thing you can say about members of the North Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club – they love getting out and about.

The club celebrates its 40th anniversary with a reunion on October 28-29, a weekend when there is bound to be plenty of stories shared about numerous outdoor adventures.

Its first meeting was held in the Moeraki Room at the Brydone Hotel on October 20, 1977.

An interim committee was formed, made up of 13 people. John Ryder was named chairman and Miriam Ataya secretary.

The club’s first tramp, at Herbert Forest, was on November 6, 1977, led by Bruce Mackley.

Club membership grew quickly in the first 12 months of its existence – its numbers went from 11 to 43 from the date of the first annual meeting to the second.

Today, the club has about 70 active members.

Nice outlook . . . North Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club member Margie Smith at the Huxley River in the early 1990s. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Since that first outing four decades ago, the club’s members have taken on virtually every climbable peak in the district and have seen more bushland on tramps than many others could hope to see in a lifetime.

The club’s excursions have not been limited to North Otago – the Kahurangi National Park, Arthurs Pass, Lewis Pass, Fiordland, Stewart Island and Aoraki Mt Cook are just some of the areas members have traversed.

Jane Naish, a former club president and secretary, has been involved with the club for 35 years.

She said the club headed out “three weeks out of four” on outings, and had a Wednesday walkers group.

It wasn’t just about getting out into the fresh air.

“The club have maintained the three forest tracks in the Herbert Forest and as well as that we’ve got pest traps that the club maintain to help the birdlife.”

The club also holds courses on first aid and bushcraft.

At its monthly meetings, members enjoy guest speakers, share trip reports, view photographs and slide shows from previous trips and talk about future outings.

Mrs Naish said she had had some memorable experiences over more than three decades of involvement with the club, and learned a lot from experienced trampers and climbers in her early years with the club.

“I don’t get out quite as much nowadays, but it’s the friends you make in the club. When I joined, it was a life-changing experience. I’ve been up all the mountains from the Hakataramea Pass down to Palmerston.

“You just see so much wonderful country. People that travel down the main road haven’t seen anything, so they should get among it.

“Over the years some members have climbed Mt Cook, so we do quite a lot of climbing and get quite adventurous sometimes.”

Margie Smith, a club member for about 30 years, said being part of the club was the perfect way to discover new areas.

“You can get to remote places you would not find on your own. We’ve been to some amazing places and because we’ve got some experienced people, we can get to those places.”

High adventure . . . Jane Naish, of the North Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club, at Mt Domett in 1991. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

As many other clubs were discovering, younger members were getting harder to find, she said.

“There’s so many other things for people to do now and they wouldn’t want to go tramping with their parents, would they?”

About 50 people are expected to attend the club’s 40th reunion.

A meet and greet will be held at Purton’s Cafe in Maheno on October 28, before a walk in Herbert Forest on October 29.