The Club
About Orienteering



About Orienteering

Orienteering is a sport which involves finding your way across country (usually running) with the aid of a map and sometimes a compass. Orienteers navigate as accurately as they can between control points, usually marked by orange and white flags, using their skill in map reading to choose the best route. The map is the central focus of orienteering and map reading is the most important skill. People who enjoy looking at maps will enjoy orienteering. Orienteering occupies the mind as fully as the  challenge of finding the best route between control points and the physical effort involved in completing a course as quickly as possible, provide a perfect balance of endeavor. For this reason orienteering has been called the "thought sport".

An orienteer must be able to follow a course on a map. From the start point the orienteer navigates around the course visiting numbered controls in the correct order until the finish is reached. There is no correct route and it is up the orienteer to decide which way to go. Control descriptions are given to help the identify the location of each control. The code number on each control is also shown and orienteers must check this to ensure they have arrived at the correct control.

Normally, orienteering is not technically difficult. There is a common misconception that it involves a high use of compass bearings and difficult compass work. This is most certainly not true. This "wrong" version of Orienteering is often taught at school camps and outings and can put people off the sport and leave them with misconceptions about it. Compasses are only needed on the hardest courses and compass work is never very technical.

Orienteering is suitable for everyone. It is a family sport as people of different levels of ability can do different courses. Orienteering can be done in small groups of people though normally courses are run alone. There are normally at least four different courses at events.

Courses are colour-coded to indicate the level of difficulty.

White Courses always follows tracks or roads; there is no route choice. Everyone can finish these and most people start by doing this type of course before quickly moving up to a higher level.

Yellow  Courses are the next step up and have some route choice but a handrail route (tracks, paths - linear features on map) is always available.

Orange  courses are harder and do not have to have a handrail to follow. The control on an Orange course is always placed within fifty metres of a large (collecting) feature.

Red  courses are the hardest and longest and are designed to be as difficult and demanding as possible.



Download PDF version (300KB)

Basic starting procedure:

1. Read about the courses available and decide on which course you want to do

2. Buy a map

3. Collect control descriptions and the right colour clip card

4. Fill out clip card and butt with

  • Name
  • Course
  • Grade (Age group; eg. M50A)
  • Write control descriptions on clip card

5. Check for map corrections especially if older maps are being used

6. Choose a start time from the book and fill it in on both your clip card and the butt

7. Check you have

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Clip card
  • Course descriptions
  • Whistle

8. Go to the start 6 minutes before the start time on your clip card and hand your butt to the starter

9. You will be informed about the start procedure for the day

  • Enjoy your run
  • Legs shall be run in the order shown
  • Take care crossing fences
  • Cross fences at the posts
  • Leave gates as you find them

10. ALWAYS Hand in your clip card when you return, even if you do not finish.




  • Competitors are divided into classes according to their sex and age. Women may compete in men’s classes.
  • Competitors aged 20 or younger are eligible to run in each class up to the end of the calendar year in which they reach the given age. They are entitled to compete in older classes up to and including 21.
  • Competitors aged 21 or older are eligible to run in each class from the beginning of the calendar year in which they reach the designated age. They are entitled to compete in younger classes down to and including21.
  • The main competition classes are called W21 and M21, for women and men respectively. All age groups of competitors are eligible to enter the 21 year age class.
  • These classes may further be subdivided on skill into E (Elite for 21 age class only), A, B & C categories which indicate degree of difficulty.
  • Classes are designated to run certain grades; beginners can run any course they want to, but if they do not qualify for the class running the course they are casual or unofficial runners. Casual or unofficial runners can run in pairs or family groups.













M21 (open)

W21 (open)

M 35-

W 35-

M 40-

W 40-

M 45-

W 45-

M 50-

W 50-

M 55-

W 55-

M 60-

W 60-

M 65-

W 65-

M 70-

W 70-

M 75-

W 75-

M 80-

W 80-

M 85-

W 85-

Orienteering Simplified

Orientate your map:
that is align the map so that the north lines on the map are facing north, the ground should now match the features marked on the map.

R: Plan your Route to the attack point: is there a good hand rail (fence line, water course, ridge line etc) you can use to make it easy to find the attack point while running as fast as you can?

A: An Attack point is a point easier to find than the control feature that is near to the control and can be things like track junctions, major hills or ridges, bends in water courses or intersections of two major features.

C: Look at the Control description to find out what you are looking for.

E: Plan your Exit from the control.






Abbreviations & Explanations

AOA            Auckland Orienteering Association

CDOA        Central Districts Orienteering Association

JWOC        Junior World Orienteering Championships

NISSOC     North Island Secondary Schools Orienteering Championships

NZOF         New Zealand Orienteering Federation

NZSSOC    Silva New Zealand Secondary Schools Orienteering Championships

PRE-ENTRY    An event where entries close, usually one month prior to the event, to allow organisers  time to print maps with courses on for competitors. No entry on the day. At other events participants copy their own course onto their map.

RK           Red Kiwi Orienteering Club

TBA         To Be Advised

OY          Orienteer of the Year competition. A series of 7 or 8 events at which you are allocated points according to your placing in relation to the winner's time.   

WOA       Wellington Orienteering Association

WOC     Wellington Orienteering Club

OY        Orienteer of the Year competition. A series of 7 or 8 events at which you are allocated points according to your placing in relation to the winner's time.   

WOA     Wellington Orienteering Association


Event Organiser's Documentation

Planners Responsibilities        Download>>>     (MS Word Doc.)            (PDF)

Controllers Responsibilities     Download>>>      (MS Word Doc.)           (PDF)

Coordinators Responsibilities  Download>>>      (MS Word Doc.)            (PDF)





As a minimum, the following tasks must be carried out by the Planner:

a.    Planning of courses including consideration of safety, degree of difficulty, control siting and equipment, fairness (including minimization of chance factors) and map correctness.

b.    Liaison with the Controller.

    The Controller ensures that rules are followed in accordance with the guiding principle of sporting fairness, that mistakes are avoided and procedures are enacted to ensure the safety of all competitors and the public. The Controller has the authority to require adjustments to be made if they decide that they are necessary to satisfy the requirements of the event. The Controller has the deciding voice in all matters pertaining to fairness and safety. Controllers must be given adequate time to make changes if required.

b.    Preparation of control descriptions.

c.    Preparation of the Master Maps.

d.    Planning of Start and Finish in consultation with the Chief Organiser and Controller.

e.    Selection of drink stations, and placing of drinks on the day of competition.

f.    Placing of controls and card marking devices (punches).

h.    Liaison with the Chief Organiser, supplying all details on length, climb on each course and other such information as is required to be posted at the Registration area

i.    Organisation of control collection and any markers, collection of drink bottles, collection of Master Maps and removal of any rubbish at control or Master Map sites.


The principles of course planning are available from Appendix 3 of the NZOF Competition Rules which are available from NZOF Website http://www.nzorienteering.com/technical/rules.html .



1    Contact landowners(s) / rangers to confirm permission for event and to check any out-of bounds or special areas or requirements.

2   Contact Map Keeper to obtain the map folder and copies of maps for planning .

3   Discuss and agree the broad course options with the Controller.

4   Decide on Start/Finish area and discuss safety issues and event directions with the Controller.

5   Contact Newsletter Editor with information on Start areas, directions, road safety etc

6   Plan courses in accordance with course/grade combinations attached. Allow time for     Controller’s approval / alterations etc.


  1. Contact Equipment Officer to find out control numbers. Finalise courses on maps.
  2. Arrange for Controller to re-check courses.
  3. Prepare control descriptions using OCAD8 software. Arrange for Controller to check descriptions. Photocopy adequate copies.
  4. Contact Map Keeper with details of numbers of maps required.


  1. Collect controls/flags from Equipment Officer and maps from Map Keeper.
  2. Contact Chief Organiser to let them know exact location of Start, Finish and Registration. Provide a large scale drawing to avoid any confusion.
  3. Write up notice for competitor's information showing: courses, grades, course lengths.
  4. Prepare Master Maps (2 for each course). Include control descriptions on these and any map corrections.
  5. Prepare maps (at least 2)  for map corrections, if any, for display on a table at Registration. Prepare maps for control collecting. (Chief Organiser will arrange collectors on the event day)
  6. Staple Safety Information notices (supplied by Controller) to front, top left hand corner of competitors maps


  1. Put out controls and tapes, if any. Do this the day before if necessary.
  2. Put out water at drink controls.
  3. Arrive back at Registration area well before the first start.
  4. Give maps, control descriptions, master clip-cards and Starters orders to Chief Organiser.
  5. Set up the Master Maps. Clearly indicate which maps are for which.
  6. Make sure direction to Master Maps from Start is clear (use tapes if necessary).
  7. Have spare controls and flags in case some are taken.
  8. You will be needed to help during the day at Start/Finish etc.
  9. After course closure time and in consultation with the Controller, supervise the collecting of controls and drink bottles. Check controls off master list to make sure none are left behind.


  1. Check clip cards for correctness. Consult with Controller if card is thought to be incorrect.
  2. Send copies of results (including course lengths/climbs) to Newsletter Editor, Webmaster and, if event is an OY, to the OY Statistician. Send all the address butts to Membership Secretary.

3  Return all surplus maps and the updated map folder to the Map Keeper. The updated map folder should include a dated set of the event courses and any other information which may be useful for the next event Planner






The Controller is the representative of the competitors. The Controller ensures that rules are followed in accordance with the guiding principle of sporting fairness, that mistakes are avoided and procedures are enacted to ensure the safety of all competitors and the public.

Although the Controller works in close collaboration with the Planner and the Chief Organiser, the Controller has the overall authority to require adjustments to be made in order to satisfy the requirements of the event. The Controller has the deciding voice in all matters pertaining to fairness and safety.

All official information sent out must be  pre-approved by the Controller.

Duties of the Controller are

a.    To supervise the general organisation of the event and to ensure that the Rules are adhered to.

b.    To check the quality of the map and supervise any updating or re-mapping which may be required.

c.    To provide advice to the Planner and to ensure that the courses will be ready well ahead of time.

d.    To approve the courses after assessing their safety, quality, including degree of difficulty, control siting and equipment, chance factors and map correctness. ( If necessary, Controllers should run sufficient courses to ensure that lengths are appropriate.)

e.    To check that the control descriptions correctly describe the control sites.

f.    To check the suitability of the Start area, map issue point, controls and Finish, and to ensure that on the day of the event they are correctly positioned.

g.    To ensure the safety of all competitors and the public by:

i.    following the RK Health and Safety Policy.

ii    ensuring that there is safe access to the event and that the requirements of the Road Safety Plan are complied with

iii    completing the Hazard Identification and Emergency Procedure forms including map reference for emergencies, safety bearing and course closure time.

iv.    ensuring that the appropriate information is displayed on the notice board.

v.    ensuring that all Helpers are correctly briefed with regards to Health and Safety issues and Emergency Procedures.

vi    ensuring that Starters are correctly briefed and are informing competitors about any specific safety issues

vii    (in other than Park or Street Events) ensuring competitors are carrying whistles and know how to use them

viii    preventing competitors without suitable clothing or equipment from starting (e.g. in bad weather).

ix    matching finishers with starters, liaising with the Planner with respect to control collection and initiating and controlling any search and rescue operation.

x.    planning for and controlling the rescue of any injured competitor

xi.   being present throughout the event.


The principles of course planning are available from Appendix 3 of the NZOF Competition Rules which are available from NZOF Website  http://www.nzorienteering.com/technical/rules.html.   

  1. Contact Planner to discuss course combinations.
  2. Discuss safety issues and formulate a specific road safety plan in conjunction with the Planner and in accordance with the RK Road Safety Plan.  Notify the Chief Organiser of any special considerations and signposting requirements.
  3. Order specialised Road Safety Signs if required
  4. Check for map suitability. If an OCAD map, are map changes necessary? If so, arrange field corrections and supply them to the Map Keeper a minimum of 3 weeks prior to event.


  1. Check courses, control sites and safety issues with Planner.
  2. Complete Safety Information notices, arrange printing and delivery to Planner for attachment to maps
  3. Check control descriptions.
  4. Ensure the event (if an OY) meets the obligation of the NZOF guidelines.


  1. Collect and place any specialised Road Safety Signs
  2. Assist with placement of controls. Do this the day before if necessary.
  3. Complete the Hazard Identification and Emergency Procedure forms and ensure that the appropriate information is displayed prominently on the notice board. Check Safety Information notices are attached to maps.
  4. Brief the Chief Organiser on any specific issues relating to the event particularly with reference to safety.
  5. Ensure Starters are correctly briefed (use written instructions) and are informing competitors about any specific safety issues.
  6. Check master maps are correct and that they contain control descriptions and any corrections.
  7. You will need to help during the day at Start/Finish etc.
  8. Be available for ruling on disputed clip cards.
  9. Ensure that all requirements of the Health and Safety and Road Safety Plans are being complied with.
  10. In consultation with the Planner decide on timing for collection of controls. Controls must not to be collected from courses until all competitors from that course are accounted for. It is the Controller’s responsibility to coordinate any search and rescue procedures.
  11. Pick up and return any Road Safety Signs at the end of the event.


  1. The Controller is responsible for any decision to cancel or postpone the event.
  2. It is felt that promotional events should be postponed in bad weather.
  3. For Club/OY events, the event should go ahead, unless deemed dangerous e.g., consider wind chill, visibility, stream crossings etc.
  4. If  the weather is marginal, there must be a clothing check for those going out.
  5. Postponements/cancellations need to be made by the Controller by 7:30am and passed to the RK Event Co-ordinator or President for action                                    





The Chief Organiser is responsible for facilities up to the Start point, and from the Finish line. This includes:


i.    Signposting to the Event.

    ( but not Road Safety Signs unless arranged with Controller)

ii.    Layout of Registration, Start and Finish and parking in liaison with the Planner

iii.    Allocation and supervision of all officials and their duties.

iv.    Supplying the necessary equipment or ensuring that officials are in possession of the required items.

v.    Displaying necessary information.

vi.    Displaying provisional results.

vii    Arranging for control collectors.


1    Contact Planner to find out where Registration is and where Start and Finish are located.

2    Contact all helpers. Confirm their availability and arrival times.

  1. If you are short of helpers, contact the Events Coordinator to ask for more.
  2. Contact Equipment Officer to arrange picking up of the event gear. (see Club Info > Contacts)

5    The Planner will bring maps and control descriptions.

6    Ensure you are familiar with the RK Health and Safety Policy and Emergency Procedures


1    Put up direction signs on the way unless otherwise arranged with the event Controller. Make sure direction signs are hung where indicated in the newsletter / poster and conform with the RK Road Safety Plan.

2    Allow plenty of time to set up to be ready by 10a.m.

3    Confirm helpers different tasks including safety briefing. Delegate! Don’t try to do everything yourself.

4    Synchronize all clocks being used (usually two).

  1. Put up the large " RK Orienteering” banner .Put up any other signs e.g. to Start, parking, toilet if required.
  2. Dig toilet (if required) and put up toilet tent. Make sure the back of the toilet tent is positioned hard up against the back of the toilet so any spare space is in the front of the toilet area.
  3. Check Planner has written up the day's courses and that Controller has written up the Safety Information for the notice board and that the days Emergency Procedures are current and stored with the First Aid Kit.
  4. Planner will organise maps for map corrections. These should be put out on a table in backing boards with pens.
  5. Make sure you have the cash box with fees listed.
  6. Set up self-service board with control descriptions, control cards, start time lists and forward Event Program leaflets.
  7. Set up the results clothesline near Registration.


1    Set up the Start with table, chair, shelter (if required), synchronised clock, pen, whistle and a supply of small clipboards.

2    Brief Starter on instructions to be relayed to competitors. Place particular emphasis on Safety instructions (Use written instructions supplied by Planner/Controller.) Ensure that this procedure is repeated whenever a new Starter is involved.

3    The Planner/Controller will put out the master maps.

4    Collect tear-off portion of control cards from starters.


1    Set up Finish with table, two stools, and tent (if required) Supply pens, paper, synchronised clock and some small clip boards or clear plastic holders for holding butts and cards. The FINISH banner is the finish line so make sure it can be read by finishing runners.

2    Put out water containers, drinking cups and rubbish bin near the Finish.


1    Make sure all butts are matched up with control cards. Any that are not matched could mean that someone is still out on the course or lost. Inform the Controller.

2    Make sure the Planner has enough people for collecting controls.

3    Take down the results - maintain butts in order and pass to Planner.

4    Dismantle area, check for and remove any rubbish    

5    Make sure direction and, if requested by Controller, road safety   signs are taken down.

  1. Notify the Equipment Officer of damaged or lost equipment.


Red Kiwi Orienteers © Copyright 2010.