The Canterbury University Tramping Club (CUTC) was formed in or about 1932 by a handful of university students keen to formalise their holiday train and tramping trips to the newly established Arthur’s Pass National Park. Rumour has it that one of the club’s founding principles was the inclusion of women in outdoor pursuits, in opposition to the Canterbury Mountaineering Club, which then only admitted males.
Today, club membership tallies just over 450, the majority being University of Canterbury students and staff, as well as a smattering of young adults in the Christchurch area with or without a history at the university. I recall that the esteemed New Zealand geologist Brian Mason and astronomer and cosmologist Beatrice Hill Tinsley were both members in their younger years, and current FMC president Robin McNeill has also been a member.
Inspired by the example of the Canterbury Mountaineering Club and New Zealand Alpine Club, the CUTC has had its hand in several South Island huts over the years. In 1948 William (Bill) Packard built Avoca Hut, tucked between the Black and Birdwood Range in what is now Craigieburn Forest Park. The club still maintains the hut in cooperation with DOC. The club also constructed the original Ada Pass Hut in 1955, and until a fallen tree tree destroyed it in 1968. The club has been involved in the newer editions too. The CUTC also used Steeds Hut as a cosy little base in Arthur’s Pass Village until it was sold off for lack of use, with the shift away from train travel as more people could afford to buy cars. I believe it has since disappeared into the beech forest.
Our typical stomping grounds include daytrips to the Torlesse Range and Banks Peninsula, weekends around Lewis Pass and Arthur’s Pass, and longer holiday missions into Kahurangi and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Parks and the jungles of Westland. An annual highlight is the club’s 24-hour Rogaine-like event, TWALK, originating at Melbourne University and brought to New Zealand by a postgraduate Electrical Engineering student, Greg Martin, in 1967. The police were involved in the first event, as irate farmers who hadn’t been asked for the use of their land decided to ‘borrow’ some of the TWALK organizers’ vehicles. Since then, the landowners have always been asked! For more information, check out twalk.cutc.org.nz or email the club’s dedicated Twalk Officer at email@example.com.
The club publishes a quarterly newsletter for members as well as a semi-annual journal Trog, which is occasionally found scattered about various Canterbury backcountry huts. The club also has a website (www.cutc.org.nz), and a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/cutcnz/). Besides tramping, the club has a strong tradition as a matrimonial agency, with nearly half its captains becoming engaged within their first year in the position. Holler if you’re in our neck of the woods. We’d be happy to help you get in, out of, or ready for your next trip to the Hills.