Rogaine series, a version of orienteering, begins on May 1 for various expertise levels.

As multisport, adventure racing and trail running enjoy a surge in popularity, another sport is happily reaping the benefits.

Many of those venturing into New Zealand's remote backcountry environments are turning to orienteering to develop skills in map reading and navigation.

North West Orienteering Club (NWOC) treasurer Lisa Mead notes: "Crucial to the success of the recent GODZone winning team was captain Chris Forne, who has long been one of New Zealand's top orienteers.

"Forne's navigational aptitude gave his team the edge. Another top adventure racer from Team Swordfox who placed second at GODZone joined our club immediately after the 2016 event.


"Several other noted orienteers featured in the top 15 GODZone teams, including Thomas Reynolds and sister Kat, and the Beveridge family. Dad Mike Beveridge has been the driving force behind a very successful series of secondary schools orienteering sprint races, and siblings Gene and Renee have both represented New Zealand internationally."

Gene Beveridge is also an accomplished trail runner with podium finishes in the sport, a fact that doesn't surprise Reynolds.

"The skills learned in orienteering underpin a lot of other sports. Navigation is vital in sports like adventure racing - it's no coincidence that orienteers are the leaders when it comes to events like GODZone. Orienteering also creates a group of runners completely at home on the roughest tracks trail running can provide - it is a great way to hone off-road skills. The confidence from having navigation skills makes it easier to take on more adventurous or backcountry running loops."

Mead says orienteering is certainly not only for elites - rather, the sport lends itself to social groups and families. Teams that do well are those with a mixture of skills and aptitudes beyond the purely physical.

Competencies in planning and strategising, deciphering clues and making decisions on the fly allow different members to contribute equally to the team's success.

"This is a hare and tortoise sport where walkers who can read a map can do better than speedsters with poor navigation skills," Mead says.

14 Apr, 2016 11:12am
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The event calendar is filled with short, fun Amazing-Race style iterations of the sport, many aimed at beginners and young families.

For those who prefer wheels to trainers, MTBO - mountain bike orienteering events - are popular.

The inclusive nature lends itself well to school programmes such as Lactic Turkey's Schools Sustainability Challenge and the Auckland Secondary Schools Sprint Series. Involvement in the latter led to a long association with orienteering for the Griffiths family.

"We tried a few events when the children were small, primarily as a result of my husband, Adrian, getting lost on an adventure race and feeling he needed to improve his map-reading and navigation," says mum Kaye Griffiths.

Several years later, sons Jordan and Max took part in the school sprint series while mum and dad watched.

"We realised we may as well be out there giving it a go ourselves. We found the orienteering community very welcoming and encouraging and have made many new friends through the sport."

Rogaines differ by being for a fixed time, with points deducted for returning late. The Auckland Bivouac Rogaine Series kicks off May 1 and Mead looks forward to welcoming individuals or teams from beginners to elite, with coaching advice offered before each of the three events and courses to suit all ages and abilities.

Rogaine Series
Auckland Bivouac Rogaine Series
What: 90-minute Rogaine (on foot)
When: Sunday May 1, May 15 and May 29
Where: Various locations around Auckland
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