Wellington Orienteering Club

Kate Fortune


When did you start orienteering, and what first drew you to the sport?

It was 1975, in the very early days of orienteering in Australia and New Zealand. We were visiting my husband’s brother in Melbourne, and he took us to an event organised by his Red Roos Club. I thought of myself as a non-sporty bookworm, but orienteering appealed to me immediately as a family sport. The following year, in Wellington, we literally stumbled upon an O event near the zoo, realised that there was a Wellington Club, and joined it immediately.

What were some differences back then? 

For the first year or so, the maps were usually black and white photocopies, and we had to mark our own course from a master map before we started our run. We even used to bring some coloured pencils to try to show vegetation and make it easier to read. Even when we moved to full colour printed maps, everyone still had to mark on their own course. If you copied incorrectly, you might mark a control in the wrong place or leave it out altogether!

What excites you about orienteering? 

The personal challenge of map-reading and navigating has always really appealed to me. If orienteering had been available as an option when I was at school, I’m sure I would have taken up running much sooner. Instead I became a runner (and a marathoner) in my mid 30s – which meant that my knees have lasted the distance into my 70s now.

Do you have a favourite event?

I definitely prefer middle and long events. My speed and fitness have never been a problem, but my capacity for navigational errors (still!) means that I need a longer race to make up for my mistakes.

What’s your favourite orienteering map, and why? 

I like forest maps, so the Waitarere coastal maps have always been special.

Tell us something about yourself….

My husband Graham joined New Zealand’s diplomatic service in 1963, so I first came to Wellington after we married in Dunedin in 1965. With several postings overseas during his career, we were able to enjoy orienteering in Australia, Switzerland, France, and in the UK over the years.

What is one of your hobbies or special interests outside of orienteering?

My career has mostly revolved around books, writing and editing. I read at least 50 books a year, and I own thousands, which I’m now trying to get rid of. I’m about to move into an apartment – from the edge of the Wadestown O map to the edge of the Thorndon map!