Orienteering Hutt Valley Inc.

Getting Started


The best way to get started with orienteering is to find out what events are happening nearby, turn up prior to the starting time, and at the registration desk advise that you're new to the sport. They'll let you know what course is most suitable, hire you any timing equipment, and give you some tips to get underway.


Orienteering Hutt Valley (OHV) and Orienteering Wellington coordinate a shared events calendar in the Wellington region and take turns to host and run events.

When Events for getting started
Late February to March

Midweek after-work (and CSW) urban sprints (generally 6–7pm).

Some start of season club events on Sundays.

March until August

A series of traditional orienteering (multi-course) events that also form part of the College Sport Wellington (CSW) schools series. These are normally on Sundays with starts from 11am until 1pm. Both adults and school students compete on the same courses (easy, medium, or hard) but in separate categories.

The first couple of events are "have a go" events — ideal for trying out orienteering.

Late winter/spring A series of "score" events normally on Sundays at 11am (with mass starts). These are 1 hour mini rogaines and are good for beginners and families because you can just navigate to the easier controls, in whatever order you like.
Later in spring Usually there's an after-work series (midweek 6–7pm). These are shorter-length courses usually involving some bush and will contain an easy course for beginners.
Summer Generally quieter months on the calendar but keep an eye out for U-Max events.
When no other event On weekends where there's not any other event, OHV will often run a U-Max event. These are small-scale low-key events where you meet at a carpark and are a good opportunity for training because you can normally pair up with a more experienced person.


What do I need?

Suitable clothing and shoes that have some grip on grass and trails. Bring a drink and some food if necessary.

Cash for the event fee (approx. $10 for adults, $7 for juniors, including a map and hire of a timing device).

If you have a compass it could be useful but you should be ok without one for white & yellow (easy) courses. Once you start running orange (medium) courses or harder then you should have one (and learn how to use it).

What's the process at an event?

Generally the process for a foot orienteering event (except a U-Max) is: 

  1. Arrive at the registration table during the start window (or before the start time). If you're new to orienteering, let them know and someone will take you through the process. Tip: There's usually a big rush around the advertised start time, so unless it's a mass start, maybe arrive about 15–20 minutes after that!
  2. Pay the event fee including the hire of a timing device (a.k.a. Sport-Ident/"SI" card or "dibber") if required.
  3. Using a tablet, register your timing chip and enter your name and the course you'll be running. Courses range from white (easiest) to yellow, orange, and red (hardest). You'd probably begin with a white or yellow course at most events.
  4. Read the notice board for any special instructions or hazards, and check the course closure time.
  5. Go to the start and wait until your turn to race. On the way there will be "clear and check" controls. You'll need to first insert your timing device into the "Clear" control to erase any previous times and then insert your timing device into the "Check" control to ensure it beeps and/or flashes.
  6. Wait at the start until it's your turn to go. To spread people out on each course, the start times are usually staggered by 2–3 minutes.
  7. Immediately prior to starting you'll pick up your map. Other than checking you've got the correct map for the course you entered at the registration desk, you're not really supposed to look at it until you've started the race, but if it's your first time then the starter should be able to help you get orientated.
  8. Start racing by inserting your timing chip (i.e. SI card or "dibber") into the "Start" control (and make sure it beeps and/or flashes).
  9. Navigate to each control in the correct order and insert your timing chip into it (including the Finish) to record your time at each checkpoint. At each one make sure it beeps and/or flashes — if it doesn't for some reason you can use the punch attached to the control to clip your map. If you're still out on the course at the course closure time then you'll need to stop and head back to registration.
  10. After you've finished, return to the registration desk to download your results, print your times, and return any hired timing device. ALWAYS return to the registration desk — even if you abandon or don't complete all of the course.
  11. Later that day when all the results are published, see how you did.

Additional resources