Orienteers converging

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Checking in . . . Hamish Zinzan and Sara Prince compete in an orienteering event in Nelson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

In these days of GPS and sat-nav technology, reading maps is becoming obsolete.

But try telling that to nearly 600 orienteers about to converge on North Otago.

Their sport’s national championships are taking place in the district, starting with four events around Oamaru at Easter and continuing the following week in Naseby, Wanaka, and Queenstown.

Orienteering is a competitive sport that entails navigating on foot, usually across tricky terrain, using maps and a compass.

The nationals have attracted more than 570 competitors from throughout New Zealand and overseas.

The 80-strong international contingent includes aficionados from as far away as Finland.

The organisers said the high entry numbers make it the biggest New Zealand nationals in history.

“Most are arriving in Oamaru on Easter Friday for a sprint event through the Oamaru Public Gardens to finish in the historic Victorian architecture of the town centre,” event organiser Jan Harrison said.

“The rest of the events are on private land around Oamaru.”

Making its mark . . . An orienteering flag is placed in downtown Oamaru ahead of the Easter championships. “We are really looking forward to bringing people in the event to the lovely Victorian heritage area in Oamaru,” spokeswoman Julia Moore said. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Kuriheka area provides a forest environment, Maerewhenua offers both forest and farmland, and Earthquakes/Humpy Bumpy presents unusual farmland.

Adventure sports and navigation challenges were “really taking off in New Zealand right now”, Harrison said.

“It is an interesting phenomenon when GPS has taken over in many other respects.

“Many people are reaching out to learn orienteering and how to navigate whilst challenging themselves in the outdoors, and most of all to have fun doing it.

“This is not an adventure sport for adrenaline junkies; it actually it takes a great deal of map sense and using strategy to work out the best route, observing detail in the environment all around you.”

Public awareness of orienteering spiked when Marquita Gelderman and Tim Robinson were nominated for Halberg awards after finishing on the podium at the world championships.

“Unfortunately, both Marquita and Tim will not be present at our national event, but we have the navigator in the winning team of seven out of the eight Godzones – Chris Forne.

“Chris has entered and is a serious competitor to be up against, and he has also set and planned two following events in Queenstown afterward.”

The host club, Peninsula and Plains Orienteers, has closed off entries as well as follow-on activities because they are at full capacity.

However, the action can be followed through the “updates” page on the event website, Facebook, or Instagram.

Search for NZONationals2019 or #NZOC2019.

To find out more about orienteering, contact Peninsula and Plains Orienteers at papo.org.nz/ or for other clubs around New Zealand, see www.orienteering.org.nz/