’A club formed to enable members to enjoy tramping at a pace governed by their age and wisdom.’ This is the mantra of Wellington’s Kaumatua Tramping Club which caters for older trampers and is still going strong after 50 years.
In June 1960 ex-Tararua Tramping Club member, Grace Burgess, advertised for older trampers to contact her. After recovering from a car accident, she wanted to return to tramping but knew she needed an easier pace. A Ngati Poneke secretary suggested the name ‘Kaumatua’; and the club was born. It is believed to be the earliest age-specific tramping club in New Zealand.
Membership is just over 200. The average age has increased considerably over the years. Officially, membership is for trampers over 35 but the average age is mid-to-late-60s now, with plenty of 70-plus members and several in their 80s. Experienced or long-time members lead trips, after checking routes. Three trip schedules a year are then sent to members. For some members, tramping has led to wider environmental involvement such as pest control. Some help the environment in other ways, like Frances Lee who toiled to establish Trelissick Park, in the Wellington suburb of Ngaio.
A former Secretary Hugh Middleton says, “Many of our trip leaders have joined with skills (navigation, river crossing, first aid) acquired through membership of other tramping, climbing or deer-stalking clubs.” The club would like to attract more of these experienced trampers who can take active leadership roles.
The Wellington region has many options within easy reach: three forest parks, five regional parks, numerous reserves, urban walkways and long stretches of coastline – just as well, because the club runs five, often six, day trips each week (Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends). Midweek overnight, weekend or longer trips are sometimes organised too. Monthly meetings with speakers are held on Tuesdays in Lower Hutt and a monthly newsletter features club news, trip reports and photos. The club website can be found here: Kaumatua Tramping Club