OUTC runs a number of training opportunities throughout the year, depending on interest. These include Snowcraft, Rockcraft, Bushcraft, river crossing and outdoor first aid. If you want to know more, contact someone on the exec!

OUTC Max Olsen Time to call the chopper.


Found deep in the OUTC archives, from a time when people actually came to meetings, was a guide to leading trips. With a few tweaks, including inflation adjustment, here is the revised "OUTC Trip Leaders Guide".

Reasons for leading a trip with the OUTC

The OUTC has an intentional policy of not organising trips for its members (with the exception of Paradise, Fiordland, & Makarora in Semester 1 and Bushball, & Copland in Semester 2). Instead, the OUTC is set up to provide support and structure to facilitate trips that its members lead. This promotes a wider variety of trips being held, each reflecting the interests of the trip leaders’ concerned. Obviously such a system relies upon sufficient members choosing to lead trips. The following are some of the reasons for leading an OUTC trip:

  • You get to choose where you go

  • It is cheaper than going by yourself

  • Develops leadership, problem solving, and organizational skills

  • It’s a great way to meet people within the club

  • It’s a great way to develop a network of overseas contacts for traveling

  • Useful for your CV

  • Rapidly improves your tramping skills when you are in charge of the decision-making, map reading, route-finding etc.

It is all too easy to follow along behind the person in front, particularly on tracks that are poorly defined, relying on the efforts of others to navigate. Even on trips where you aren’t the trip leader, practice going first and reading the map. You’ll find that most trip leaders are more than willing to share the route finding on trips. Get involved, have a go — then try leading a trip on your own!!!

This is a guide aimed at new/ beginner leaders. At first glance, this guide may seem exhaustive, but in reality, much of it is common sense and things you would do without a second thought anyway.


Before Advertising Your Trip

Investigate your route and possible alternatives.

You can find information from a number of sources: the DoC website (www.doc.govt.nz) and regional offices, other trampers and committee members, route guides (the OUTC has an extensive library of tramping-related reads), and from articles in Antics journals.


There are maps available for hire (and for your perusal during meetings) in the gear room. Topographic maps can also be downloaded from the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) website (www.linz.govt.nz). You can also download a .KMZ file from LINZ which is a map overlay that can be added to Google Earth, pretty nifty eh?!


You will need to find out about the terrain, the times and distances covered each day and the current weather conditions (i.e. is the track open, are huts still there, where are rivers crossable, do you need permission to cross private land). Make sure you choose a trip that reflects your own tramping abilities and that you would feel comfortable leading others on.


Trip Ratings

The OUTC has a ‘standardised’ trip difficulty rating. While it is not always perfect, it gives punters an idea of what they can expect on trips of varying degrees of difficulty.


Easy – A trip involving:

  • A track of good standard (well-marked, major streams bridged, largely free of obstruction)

  • Up to 5 h walking each day

  • Climbs of no more than 600 m

Moderate – A trip involving a mix of the following characteristics:

  • Substantial travel on a well-marked, but rough track

  • More than 6 h continuous walking each day

  • Climbs of greater than 1000 m. Or multiple climbs/ descents.

  • Off-track travel at an un-hurried pace

  • Significant river-crossing required

Hard – A trip involving some of the following elements:

  • Substantial off-track travel

  • Significant scrambling with exposure

  • Significant route-finding required with time pressures

  • More than 10 h continuous walking each day

  • Climbs of greater than 1500 m. Or multiple climbs/ descents.


Check the weather forecast

You can check either MetService: http://www.metservice.co.nz/default/index.php or Metvuw: www.metvuw.co.nz. MetService has better forecasts for the main centers and provides a ‘Mountain’ forecast for each National Park region. However, Metvuw has long-term (3, 5, or 7-day) precipitation forecast charts covering the entire country. Metvuw is quite often more accurate with precipitation predictions (but does not distinguish between rain and snow).


Identify hazards

This may include: fords on the road to the trail head (i.e. car driving through water), gravel roads in bad condition, rock/ tree falls, river crossings, steep terrain, avalanche potential, wasps, cold, wet, or hot weather, giardia etc.


Identify the safety equipment you need

i.e. ice axes, crampons,  helmets, and an emergency locator beacon or mountain radio.


Decide how will you get there

Getting directions: Google maps is a good start when looking for directions, although it is not always accurate for some of the more out of the way tracks. Guidebooks will also have the information, but it might just be easier to ask someone who has been there before.


Transportation: You will need to decide whether you are going to take private cars or hire a van (which will depend on the number of people on the trip). Private cars are cheaper, but if you are taking a large group, vans might be a better option. If you need to hire a van, contact the transport officer(Edit: Dissovled a long time ago, contact the President) and they will book it for you. You will need to make sure there is someone on the trip who is 21 years old with their full drivers license or equivalent international license, who can drive (preferably, more than one person should be capable of driving).


Decide where you will stay

Accommodation: determine whether there are huts on route or if you need to stay in tents or under tent flies. Do you need to book the huts (i.e. Great Walks and other popular huts during peak season) and what do they cost? Will you need to hire a tent fly (from OUTC) or tents (from Unipol). Check if any of your group members have annual hut passes, as they will not require hut tickets in most cases.


Set a budget

This is not very technical. Just write a very basic list of costs to get a general idea of the price per person for the trip. You will need to consider food costs, hut tickets, car hire, petrol, cooking gas, hire costs (if you require specialist gear such as snow shoes).


As a guide:

Food $10-15 pp for a weekend trip easily covers one dinner, two breakfasts and two lunches with fairly standard meals (Friday and Sunday nights are usually takeaway stops or people sort themselves out)

Hut tickets $5.00 pp/night for standard huts and campsites, $15.00 pp/ night for serviced huts (an annual hut pass costs $85 from DoC with the FMC discount, otherwise $120 – ask about this at any club meeting)

Cooking Gas $7-10/ butane gas canister depending where you get it. For 5-8 people for one weekend, two gas canisters is plenty. MSR and Primus cookers have cheaper fuel options (i.e. kerosene).

Petrol Depends on distance… For one car load, budget on one tank of petrol costing $130 and assume that you can get about 5-6 hours driving on one tank (that’s a generous budget and obviously actual cost will depend on the type of car, the driving, and the type of roads)


e.g. a trip for 5 people on a weekend trip about 4hrs from Dunedin

Trip Budget Calculator

Questions to ask yourself before advertising your trip

  • How far/ long will you be walking each day? Does the route suit your own abilities?

  • What is the terrain like (i.e. steep, flat, tussock, scree)?

  • What are the conditions like? How does the weather forecast look?

  • What are the current track conditions?

  • Where can you stay? What is the cost? How many people does the hut fit?

  • How will you get there (i.e. cars, vans)? Do you need a 4WD?

  • How many people can you take?

  • Do you need permission to drive/ walk there?

  • Will you need any specialist/ safety gear?

  • What is your back-up plan if the things conspire against you?

  • How much will the trip cost?


Advertising your trip

Email list

You can send an email to the wider list (outc@lists.otago.ac.nz) advertising your trip. It is important that you include details on the route you will take, including difficulty rating, gradient and expected walking times, accommodation, approximate trip cost (it is better to give a generous estimate that will cover any small unexpected costs you may encounter), dates and times, any specialist gear, as well as any stand-out or interesting features you could expect to see, to gain the punters interest. It can be a good idea to create a google form for people to register interest, as this makes it easier to collect peoples names and details.


e.g. Subject: Trip to Silverpeaks next weekend (17-18th Mar)



I am planning on leading a trip to Jubilee Hut in the Silverpeaks next weekend (17-18th Mar). The plan is to drive 20 mins north of Dunedin to the start of the track, then walk in via The Gap and ABC caves to Jubilee Hut (approx. 7 hours). We will walk out up the Devil’s Staircase via Pulpit Rock and the old Green Hut site, which takes around 4 hours. The trip is rated moderate, as both days include undulating terrain, as well as shorter steep up and/ or downhill sections. From the ridgelines we can expect to have great views over Dunedin and see some funky rocks. We will meet outside Clubs and Socs on Saturday morning at 8 am ready to leave and can expect to return to Dunedin by 4 pm on the Sunday. Trip cost will be $20, which includes hut tickets, food, and petrol. Let me know if you would like to join this trip.


Club Meetings / Happy Hour

You can also advertise your trips at club meetings: Tuesdays 5-6 pm or Fridays 12:30-1:30 pm. Advertising trips at club meetings is always a good option because it allows you to meet your trip members before the weekend and you can pre-assess their suitability for the trip. You can ask about their experience, skills (first aid, bush-craft, snow-craft, river-crossing), fitness (how much walking/tramping have they done), limitations (e.g. scared of heights), and what sort of trip they want. You may have to tell people they should go on another trip, or modify the trip – it’s better to find this out before you leave rather than once you start walking. For more complex trips, it may be worth arranging a premeet beforehand.

Every week on Tuesday at 6pm the club also has Happy Hour down at the Bog and this is also great place to meet people for trips. There are also free chips!


Facebook Group

It can be a good idea to post in the OUTC Facebook group about your trip. This can be the same as your email. You might want to post a photo too to catch punters eyes!



Under construction at the moment is a Trip hub on the website, which can be found under the ‘Trips’ tab.


Safety Committee

The OUTC has a safety committee made up of a few more experienced club members who are there to offer advice and answer questions. In extreme cases, they might step in and suggest changes to your trip plan if they feel it is unsafe (i.e. if you are leading a trip beyond your ability or if the weather/ exposure is too high etc.). If you wish to contact the safety committee directly with questions, you can do so at: safety@outc.org.nz.

Before you leave on your trip

Confirm trip members

Now that you have lots of punters contacting you about joining your trip, you firstly need to confirm your trip members. It is generally accepted that it is first in, first served, but in some cases, this may not be the case (i.e. you need a punter who is willing to drive etc.). If you have an excess of willing punters, it is often a good idea to keep a bit of a waiting list (assuming it is a small trip), as the likelihood of someone dropping out by the Wednesday beforehand is often quite high. You could suggest to the ‘extras’ that they join forces and organise their own trip.


Medical history/ allergies: You need to ask your trip members if they have any medical conditions you should know about (i.e. diabetes, asthma, allergies, knee/ joint issues etc.). If you are feeling accommodating, you can also ask if they have any major food dislikes (there is nothing worse than taking porridge for breakfast and finding that no one in your group likes or will eat porridge).


Confirm Trip Details

Keep your trip members up-to-date with any changes in your trip plan (i.e. due to bad weather). Let them know what time and where to meet for your departure and give them an anticipated return time. Make sure they all have suitable equipment (i.e. send them a gear list) or tell them where they can hire gear (i.e. Unipol).


Food Shopping

Next, it is time to plan your meals and go food shopping. Most trip leaders will provide two breakfasts, two lunches, and one dinner. It is usually best if you ask your trip members to bring their own snacks (i.e. fresh/ dried fruit, muesli bars, nuts, chocolate, etc.) – this cuts down the overall trip cost and allows punters to bring as much or as little as they wish to carry in the way of snacks. For most weekend trips you can expect food to cost $10-15 per person.


Here is a summary of the sorts of foods commonly taken on OUTC trips and some of the pros and cons of each. An estimate of the proportions required for each meal is also given.

Collect Gear/ Equipment

At the Friday meeting before your trip (or Tuesday if you are super-organised) you will need to collect any equipment you require for your group. This includes maps, cookers, billy, gas, crampons, ice axes, tent flies, EPIRB etc. As an OUTC member, gear hire is free, although you must leave a $50 bond with the gear officers, which you get back once the gear is returned (NOTE: the gear officers may ask for a larger bond under some circumstances, depending on the type of equipment you are borrowing and the length of time). If the OUTC doesn’t have the gear you are looking for you can most likely hire these from Unipol Recreational Services (for more personal items, i.e. tents, sleeping bags, gaiters, packs etc.)



It is no longer possible to leave your intentions with the DoC. Instead, it is up to you to leave your intentions with someone responsible. Your intentions should include things such as trip member’s names and contact details, emergency contacts, dates in and out, day-by-day trip plan (including places of accommodation), your vehicle registration and where it is parked (if possible), and a ‘panic date and time’. The panic date and time is when the person you leave your intentions with rings the police and Search and Rescue (SAR) to come and find you.


Mountain Safety Council (MSC): MSC has a template ‘outdoors intentions form’ which you can print off and use. The template is available to download at the Adventure Smart website: www.adventuresmart.org.nz/outdoors-intentions/download-printable-pdfs.asp


Gear List

It is always good to make sure your trip members are prepared and come well equipped. You should specify in your initial emails the required gear or any specialist equipment you expect them to bring (i.e. raincoat and proper boots are the most basic requirements). Otherwise you can refer them to the general ‘gear list’ on the OUTC website: www.outc.org.nz/?page_id=29


Trip Payment

If your trip is being run as an OUTC trip, then you should get your trip members to pay the treasurers at one of the meetings before your trip departs. You should let the treasurers know to expect ‘$x’ payments from ‘x’ number of people for ‘trip x’, and they will collect the money and provide receipts.


If you do not wish to run the trip as a club trip, then you can collect cash from the trip members when the trip departs. While this can sometimes be less of a hassle in terms of getting refunds, the responsibility for payments falls on the trip leader (i.e. if someone pulls out last minute and you have already bought the group supplies, you either have to cover the deficit yourself or spread it across the remaining trip members, which isn’t fair).

During the Trip



Make sure everyone knows each other. Show your trip members where you will be going on the map and where you will be staying, with approximate times. Answer any questions.



Driving: it is the trip leaders responsibility to know the way (even if you aren’t driving).

On-route: Consult the map and show your trip members where you are. Keep them involved in the decision-making surrounding route finding and/ or let others try walking in front and choosing your path.


Group Gear

It is the leaders responsibility to make sure that the group gear is evenly distributed around the group (it is not the leaders responsibility to carry more than everyone else). It may be necessary to redistribute gear during the trip if some members are struggling more than others.


Cooking/ Camp Chores

As the trip leader, you need to take the initiative and start cooking/ preparing food. Set the example and often people will offer to help. You should not be responsible for everything. Ask others to help you and delegate jobs if appropriate.


In the morning, you will need to set your alarm (if you don’t – no one else is going to get out of their sleeping bags). Get up a few minutes before everyone else and put on the hot water/ start preparing breakfast before waking everyone else up (especially if it is a cold morning).



You need to keep an eye on the time and progress of the group. Make sure someone responsible leads at the front and remind them to stop regularly and at junctions. They should set a steady pace, suitable for the slowest members. Regular breaks are important for enjoyment, to avoid exhaustion, and so people can put clothes on or take them off. You should take breaks at least every hour. Rest in safe and sheltered places with good views.


Get the group moving early enough to reach your destination in daylight, unless this is already planned and everyone is experienced. You don’t want to be caught out trying to climb around some scrabbly rock or following a poorly marked track in the dark. If you are caught out in the dark it can be best to stay put rather than push on. You also want to avoid rushing to your destination and arriving before lunchtime with nothing much to do.



Watch the weather and associated hazards. Consider risks such as snow and avalanches, rain and river levels, wind chill, sunburn, and heat exhaustion. Keep an eye on the weather and get your group members to evaluate the weather throughout the day as conditions can change very quickly. You need to be prepared to change your route in the case of bad weather. If rivers rise and become impassible, be prepared to camp out and wait until it is safe to cross.


General Leadership

Decision-making: The leader must make sure that appropriate decisions are made taking into account the safety of the entire group, and keep everyone informed as to what the decisions are. It is best to involve the group as much as possible and discuss options.


First aid: Generally, all punters should have their own personal first-aid kit with basic pain medication and bandages etc. However, as group leader, it is your responsibility to carry a good first-aid kit to cover more severe injuries (i.e. sprained ankles/ joints, larger wounds, blisters). If you don’t think your own kit is sufficient, the OUTC has fist-aid kits for hire. If you (or any of your group members) use something, it is important that it gets replaced before returning it to the gear room.


Walking pace: It is important that your group remains together throughout the day. Generally, you want the slower trip members at the front and the fast ones at the back. However, this can be frustrating for both ends of the spectrum. It is a good idea to rotate who travels at the back. If you do let faster trip members go on ahead, make sure they stop frequently and let the slower members catch up. If you have a particularly slow trip member, redistribute group gear and/ or heavy items from their pack to faster trip members. Most importantly, don’t split up unless you have a very good reason to do so (i.e. an injury). If you do split up the group then ensure that there is a competent leader for each group and everyone knows what is happening.


Awareness of group: Remain aware of your group members and how they are coping. Keep an eye out for signs of tiredness, hypothermia (excessive coldness), overheating and dehydration, blisters and other injuries, being scared (e.g. of heights), and struggling to keep up. Make sure that people are consuming sufficient food and drink, especially if conditions are bad. Be approachable so your group members are willing to speak up if they are finding the going difficult.


Pass on knowledge: During breaks discuss points of interest, such as the names of trees, mountains, rivers, explorers, etc. Pass the map around and point out features you can see. Teach skills such as river crossing, fire lighting, tent pitching, and choosing a campsite. Encourage minimum impact and discourage littering (“leave only footprints, take only photos”).



After the Trip

Upon your Return

It is generally accepted/ common courtesy that the driver will drop trip members off at their flats if they are within a reasonable distance of the Dunedin CBD area (especially of it is already dark when you return). Also, you must remember to contact your ‘responsible person’ who holds your intentions and let them know you have returned safely.



If the trip was run as a ‘club trip’ through the club accounts, then you will need to get a refund for food/ petrol payments by filling out a Receipt form and returning it to the treasurers. On the  Form you fill out your trip name, your name, date, and then list your expenses. You must keep and attach your receipts if you wish to get a refund. No cash refunds are given with the Blue Forms – reimbursements are given by cheque.


If the trip was under-budget by say >$5 per person, then you can request that the treasurers provide each of your trip members with a reimbursement (you will need to provide a list of trip members). Your trip members will need to come to one of the meetings to claim their refund.


Return Club Gear

If you or your group members have borrowed any club gear, make sure this gets returned promptly and any damage is reported to the gear officers.


Photo-swap/ Pot Luck Evening

This is not a requirement, but it can be quite nice after a fantastic weekend away to have everyone meet up again for a potluck dinner or meeting of some sort to swap photos and reflect on the weekend. An easy way to swap photos is by creating a Google Drive folder and sharing the link with everyone. It is completely up to you.



All that is left now is to write an article about your epic trip and submit it to Antics (the annual journal of the OUTC) – you should encourage your trip members to do the same! This can be anything from a long-winded blow-by-blow account of the route you took (which can be particularly useful for off-track routes), recipes, jokes, quotes, photos, and poems – whatever takes your fancy. Exaggeration is encouraged, lies are accepted as truth. So put your pen to paper and immortalize your trips in Antics!


At first glance, this may seem like an exhaustive list but in reality, the pre-advertisement checklist will only take around 30 minutes to complete. And as you lead more trips, organizing things like food shopping and gear/ equipment hire becomes automatic and requires no special effort. It is perfectly achievable to decide to head away and plan the entire trip on the Monday or Tuesday beforehand. Remember that the committee members are invaluable resources with extensive knowledge and experience, who are willing to lend a hand and offer advice. So if you have any questions, come along to one of the meetings and find one of us. Otherwise, get planning and head out into the hills!