For Trip Leaders

Thank you for taking the time to lead a trip for WTMC.

The following information should help you plan a great trip. However don’t be afraid to ask for tips from other club members. We’re here to help.

 As a WTMC trip leader, you are expected to:

  1. Plan the trip including:
    1. confirming punters and numbers;
    2. collecting money;
    3. forwarding emergency contact details;
    4. sorting out route, group gear and food;
    5. finding van drivers from within your group.
  2. Lead during the trip, which primarily means:
    1. facilitating good decision making by the group;
    2. keeping an eye on how people are going;
    3. being prepared to take charge in difficult/emergency situations.

Useful guidance documents:
– A trip planning template, to check you have all aspects covered including itinerary, potential hazards, road access etc.
– A wtmc club trip checklist, to check sure you have completed all the admin tasks for your trips (e.g. when to send emails and tips on what to include, how to check payments, confirm vehicle, etc).
Using online forms to organise club trips.

Signing up to lead a trip

If you are new to leading trips, contact the Chief Guide to express your interest and discuss options.

Trip planning occurs three times a year. Once you are on the Trip Leaders distribution list, you will receive emails from the Chief Guide at the time of planning. A draft schedule is circulated ahead of publication, for leaders to sign up.  You will have an opportunity to put forward ideas for new trips and/or put your name down to lead trips already listed.

Once you have signed up to lead a trip, you will receive a link to the online form for your trip. This link gives you access to the list of people who sign up, including contact details, medical details, tramping experience and other information needed to organise the trip. More guidance to use online forms is available here.

Plan Your Trip

Planning is an opportunity to think through the trip in advance, so that you can identify any risks and devise ways to deal with them. It takes a little bit of work, but makes the on-trip leading so much easier.

There are several steps involved when planning a trip detailed here.

Six Wednesdays Before Your Trip

Plan Your Route

If you are not sure where your trip is intended to go, you can:

  • talk to experienced club members (ask the chief guide if you’re not sure who to ask);
  • consult books and park maps for details of tracks and huts;
  • download maps from NZ Topo Map;
  • talk to the DoC area office.

Further things you need to work out are:

  • Whether you need permission to cross private land
    • Check the WAMS website for public/private land boundaries;
    • Check with DoC who can tell you and who usually hold landowner phone numbers.
  • Escape routes in case the weather closes in;
  • Potential hazards such as rivers and exposed tops;
  • Where you will stay i.e. in huts or campsites:
    • Don’t always assume that just because a structure (eg bridge or hut) is on the map, it will be there;
    • Check with DoC or people who’ve been there recently for the latest info.

And you must check:

  • that your planned route fits the grade that has been advertised;
  • Work out the likely route times and the difficulty of the track/terrain, and let prospective punters know these details when you are asking them to confirm. E/EM groups may only average about 2kph over a day. This gives people a chance to opt out of a trip that’s too difficult for them, which is much better for you as a leader. You need to be sure that your punters’ expectations of the trip match your planned reality!

Promote Your Trip

Promote your trip by giving a notice at club nights, publishing on the Forum or on the WTMC facebook page.

Sign up Closes

The closing date for sign up is indicated on the trip schedule. Sign up closes:

  • three Wednesdays before for a North Island (NI) trip, and
  • four Wednesdays before for a South Island (SI) or Lodge trip.

4 Wednesdays (SI and Lodge Trips) or 3 Wednesdays Before Your Trip

Once sign-up has closed, it’s time to get in touch with your group and confirm who is coming. You can access the list of people who signed up through the link to the online form sent to you by the Chief Guide at the time of planning. More guidance to access this information online is available here.

Email Your Punters – Initial Email

Send an initial email to your punters as soon as sign up closes. In this email you should:

  1. ask people to confirm that they are coming;
  2. tell them the cost of the trip;
  3. remind them that payment is due by the following Wednesday.

You could also tell your punters

  • details of the route/difficulty, so people can assess if it’s within their fitness/ability level.

The information collected through online sign up also provides you with:

  • the name and number of their emergency contact;
  • if they are vegetarian or have other dietary/special requirements;
  • if they have a stove they can bring;
  • if they can drive the club van;
  • if they have a tent (if your plan requires tents).

Find out about Your Punters and Their Experience Level

If a punter is unknown to you:

  • feel free to ask them questions about their experience and gear;
  • find out what trips they have done with the club, and ask the leaders of those trips whether the punter will be suited to your trip.

This is especially important if your trip is Medium or above. You can remind people that we strongly recommend their first trip with the club be an Easy or Easy Medium. This is definitely the case if people have not tramped in New Zealand outside of Great Walks.

If you remain uncertain about the fitness/ability of a punter:

If they don’t have and can’t get the right clothing/boots/gear, don’t take them.

Find out how many club approved van drivers are in the group.

Find out about Your Punters Medical or Other Conditions

People should disclose to you any medical or other conditions they have relevant to running a safe trip. This information should be included in their online sign up form. Treat this information with respect and keep it confidential. Delete/destroy it after the trip.

If they have a condition they don’t want to tell you about, suggest that they put a note in an envelope that you can open only in the event of an emergency.

Confirm Payment

Ensure that everyone has paid before you give final trip numbers to the transport officer.  You need to do this

  • two Wednesdays before for a North Island trip
  • three Wednesdays before for a South Island trip.

If people pay by

  • online bank transfer, ask them to confirm by email and when all are in,  email the treasurer () with the names and amounts and ask for them to confirm in the bank account.
  • cash, give the cash to the gear person on a Wed evening in an envelope with the trip details.

People are liable for the trip fare if they pull out after

  • two Wednesdays before for a North Island trip, or;
  • three Wednesdays before for a South Island trip.

The reason for these deadlines is that we make transport bookings/allocations based on numbers.

People are less likely to pull out of a trip if they have paid. If people do pull out after the deadline and they haven’t paid, you will need to chase them, so be strict on people meeting deadlines.

Plan Your Transport

If you have particular transport requirements that don’t fit the standard club van trip from the Station, give the Transport Officer early indication of what you need.

Email the club transport officer with your numbers when your sign-up closes. It is useful to copy other trip leaders going to the same area. The Transport Officer will let you know what kind of transport you will be using.

You may need to liaise with the weekend’s other trip leaders to sort out drop-offs and pick ups from different road ends (this is organised cooperatively by leaders, not by the transport officer).

Note that for safety reasons, the club rules require at least two authorised drivers available for trips from Wellington with an anticipated journey time of more than 3 hours.

See Vans and Other Transport Options down below.

Lodge Trips

See Trip Leaders Going to the Lodge.

2 Wednesdays (10 Days) Before Your Trip

Plan the Meal

Taking into account dietary constraings, ideas for communal meals for your tramp are in the WTMC recipe book (see the recipe book attached below).

Email Your Punters – Trip Plan Email

About a week before the trip, email out your trip plan. It should cover:

  • route/terrain and estimated times (as per your initial email);
  • group gear allocation;
  • food allocation;
  • anything else particular about the trip, especially any particular risks such as lengthy periods of tops travel or significant rivers;
  • plan Bs if your original intentions become unfeasible.

The email should also tell punters:

  • to bring water if none is available at the roadend;
  • about the dinner arrangements for Friday night (and Sunday if necessary);
  • remind them to bring their groundsheet, thermarest and storm gear (including overtrousers for tops travel).

Print out a copy of your plan and meal recipes and bring it on the tramp, so you know who’s got what gear, and what dinner ingredients you’re supposed to be using!

A detailed plan means everyone knows what to expect and feels comfortable about the weekend’s intentions.

Example of a trip plan email you can send out to everyone going on the trip.

Organise Club Gear

You will need to organise your party to collect the following items from the club rooms on the Wednesday prior to trip departure:

TentTents are available for alpine trips
  • large fly sleeps five to seven people – weighs about 2kg (excluding pegs and poles). Need space to pitch.
  • small fly (sleeps two or three people) weighs about 1kg (excluding pegs)

Pegs also need to be allocated for both flys, and large flies also need separate poles. Unless you specifically need large flys, take sufficient small flys for emergency shelter.

Billy / billycanWeighs 900g


We recommend every group takes at least two.

Communal first aid kitWeighs less than 900g


The communal emergency first aid kit is intended for emergencies and does not include basic items like sticking plasters and panadol (remind punters that they are expected to bring plasters and panadol for personal use)

When returning the kit, make the Gear Custodian aware of any items used on your trip.

Personal locator beacon (PLB)You must take a personal locator beacon (PLB) on your trip unless you have confirmed that mobile phone coverage is available during the whole trip. The club has PLBs that can be collected from the gear room.
Check the club PLB Policy for the appropriate use of a PLB or if in doubt ask a club committee member. If a club PLB is activated during the weekend, SAR will first contact that weekend’s club emergency contact. It is therefore very important that you have completed the club’s intentions/emergency contacts process.
Note that generally a PLB should only be activated in life-threatening situations—but refer to PLB Policy for details.

You must also ensure your group takes with them:

Topographic map and compassBring your own topo map and compass, and get familiar with the route.
CookersThe club does not have cookers available for hire.


You will need to ask members of your party to bring the appropriate cookers and fuel for your trip.

Cookers come in various weights (MSR/liquid fuel type ones weigh more, though are more efficient)

When you are allocating gear (similarly with your food allocation), feel free to give heavier items to fitter members of the party. Everyone’s happier if the group pace is relatively even and handicapping gives a subtle nudge in that direction.

In the Last Few Days Before Your Trip

Email Your Intentions to the Club’s Emergency Contact

You will be told via email who is the emergency contact for your weekend. If you have forgotten who emergency contact person is you can email the Intentions person for the club, and they will give you the emergency contact person’s details.

You must email this person with:

  • your intentions (including plan Bs) and
  • the emergency contact for each of your punters.

You can complete the ‘intentions sheet’ (found at the bottom of this web page) to provide the emergency contact person with this information.

Forward the name and number of the club emergency contact person back to your punters, so that they can pass it on to their emergency contact (who may become worried if the group is late out).

If your trip is overdue, the club emergency contact person will contact Search and Rescue, who will assess whether a search is necessary.

Find out What the Weather Forecast Is

  • Keep an eye on the forecasts during the week leading up to the trip to see how the weather is trending
  • Take a good look at the forecast on the Friday afternoon before you leave (mountain forecasts for the weekend are generally available after about 1pm)
  • If the forecast is dire and threatens your planned route, talk to your punters about the other options – either at the station or the food stop en-route (as part of your planning, you will have developed plan Bs just for this situation!)
  • Remember that the weather may be better/worse than forecast – don’t treat it as gospel.

Cancelling a Trip

If you are considering cancelling a trip, talk to the Chief Guide first. This ensures that other options can be explored and avoids potential implications for other trips around transport.

If your trip is cancelled, email “tripcancelled@w…nz” with the basic details and reason. This ensures that all the relevant volunteers involved in trip organisation are informed.

What to Do If There Is Sickness

It’s better for someone to pull out at the last minute than to be sick in the back country. Having an ill punter on your trip can create difficulties in completing your intentions and can cause that person to become sicker.

Encourage people to stay home if they are feeling unwell.

Refunds can be organised for the ferry portion of a trip fare if you contact the transport officer before the sailing (though not for van/rental costs).

Vans and Other Transport Options

Using the Club Vans

See Vans.

Club Alcohol Policy for Drivers

The club has a policy of no alcohol for drivers (including not drinking in the 24 hours before driving). If a group member has been drinking in that period, they are not to drive, even if they may be under the legal limit.

Private Transport

  • If a private vehicle is used in combination with a club vehicle for a trip, then all people on the trip pay the trip transport fee to the club. Private vehicle owners will be reimbursed by the club at the jury service mileage rate (2022: 50c per km).
  • If all people on a club trip are in private transport, they can agree amongst themselves on transport cost sharing. The jury service mileage rate, shared between all car occupants, is a recommended option to calculate transport cost (2022: 50c per km).
  • The club bears no responsibility for any other costs relating to use of private transport, e.g. insurance, damage, break-downs, thefts.

Travelling by Ferry

If you are going on the ferry, the transport officer will give you the necessary ticket documentation.

Travelling by Air

If you are travelling by air and are carrying liquid fuel camping stoves and fuel containers, read the Air New Zealand guide to dangerous goods before you travel.  You can also read and complete ‘Air New Zealand’s airport handling notice relating to camping stoves’, which you can find at the bottom of this page,  before you travel.

File Attachments

PDF icon WTMC Driver Protocols (60KB)
PDF icon WTMC Driver Vetting Form (260KB)
PDF icon Air New Zealand’s airport handling notice relating to camping stoves (107 KB)
WTMC Trip Leader Guide 2017-4 (2.7MB)

During the Trip

Being a trip leader is a real skill, and it can be hard work. Here are some tips to help you make your trip a success:

  • Gear check – Confirm each party member has appropriate emergency gear including first aid, warm and water-proof clothes, emergency food and water.
  • Brief party – Brief your group at the start of the day– let them know the ETA and distance to camp, describe the terrain including significant geographic features, and agree on frequency of breaks and a possible lunch location and time.
  • Group roles – Nominate a confident party-member to bring up the rear. They will tell you if the pace is too fast, or when slower walkers need a break. Nominate a strong walker to lead the way – route-finding and pace-setting will be important. You may choose to take one of these roles.
  • Route finding – At each rest break make sure the group knows where you are on the map. Agree to stop at track junctions to re-group and collect stragglers. Keep the group together if conditions deteriorate (eg fog, rain, sleet).
  • Pace setting – Be aware of your group’s fitness levels, experience and the trip grading when setting the pace.
  • Mood setting – As leader you will often set the tone of the trip. Your enjoyment and enthusiasm will be infectious and help keep spirits high.
  • Using huts – Remind your party about hut tickets / annual hut passes, and respect other groups using the huts.

After the Trip

  • On the way home
  1. Text the club emergency contact to let him/her know you’re out safely.
  2. Remind punters to dry out gear, especially flys, and to return gear the following Wednesday. Prompt return is important for the gear to be available for trips the next weekend.
  3. Fill up the van with diesel before it’s returned to the parking spot. Remember to bring back the keys on the following Wednesday to the gear room.
  • Encourage one of your party to write a trip report for the club newsletter. This can be short and light-hearted. Email the report to the newsletter editor
  • Trip presentation. It is always fun on a Wednesday night club meeting to see and hear where recent trips have been. If you would like to give a presentation about your trip please contact the club social convenor.
  • Respond to the email from the club statistics person about your punter numbers etc.
  • Let the chief guide know about any problems, whether in relation to the route or the punters.
  • You might like to ask some of your group for feedback on your leadership and the trip. It’s a great chance to improve your skills.

File Attachments

Trip Intentions Sheet (updated 12 June 2017)
WTMC Trip Leading Guide 2017-4 (2.7MB)

Useful Links for Leaders

You may find the information on some of these sites useful*.

Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand
Staying safe in the mountains (Wilder Life)
Department of Conservation
DOC Maps
New Zealand Topographic Maps
Walking Access Mapping System
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand
NZ Land Search And Rescue
NZ Mountain Safety Council
New Zealand Metservice
New Zealand weather and climate service(Metvuw)
NIWA Weather (Parks)
How to read weather maps
Off track routes
Tararua Footprints
Kiwi Tramping Online
New Zealand Tramper
Wellington Regional Council – River Levels
Canterbury River Flows
Remote Huts Westland
Avalanche Centre
NZ Canyoning
Rigging a tarp
Wilderness Magazine
FMC Outdoor Community

  • The club takes no responsibility for accuracy of information on these websites.