The Canterbury University Tramping Club takes safety seriously, hence we follow reasonable safety procedures to manage risks. However, tramping is inherently risky and ultimately you are responsible for your own safety.
If you’re unsure, please come and talk to a committee member—we’re happy to discuss safety, and make sure you’re aware of your own ability level.
Outdoor safety code
The Mountain Safety Council has come up with five key rules you need to follow to have a safe trip:
- Plan Your Trip: Think about the route you’re going to be taking, how long it will take, and whether your abilities are up to the challenge.
- Tell Someone Your Plans: Tell someone where you’re going so they can raise the alert if you’re overdue. Most of our outdoors does not have cellphone reception, so you should also take a personal locator beacon (PLB), which will call in a helicopter for serious danger. You can hire one from the club for free, and also leave your intentions with us.
- Be Aware Of The Weather: New Zealand’s weather can change in an instant, so you need to make sure you check the forecast before you leave.
- Know Your Limits: Make sure your abilities are suited to the trip you’re going on!
- Take Sufficient Supplies: Make sure you have enough food, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario.
Read more about the Outdoor Safety Code, or have a look at the video below.
“Rivers are a significant hazard in the New Zealand outdoors, and you’ll come across one on most tramping trips. Rivers are affected by the weather and snow melt, and can rise and fall very quickly. If you’re not experienced in river crossings or identifying unsafe rivers, then avoid crossing rivers by selecting tracks that use bridges and always be prepared to change your plans to avoid crossing a river.”
Read more on Mountain Safety Council’s page on river safety.
One of the major things to be aware of when tramping in winter and spring are avalanches. Even if you are not tramping in the snow, avalanches which start higher up in the mountains can sweep all the way down to the valley floor.
Read more on Mountain Safety Council’s page on avalanches, or have a chat to a committee member before heading out in winter.
What if things go wrong?
When things go wrong, use the STAR Model for making Decisions:
- STOP: Take a breath, sit down and remain calm
- THINK: Look around you, listen, brainstorm ideas
- ASSESS: Evaluate the options and their potential consequences
- RESPOND: Take the best alternative.
Remember: water, shelter, warmth and the will to survive are the essential elements to your survival.
If in doubt – stay put. Your trip planning will help you deal with the situation and your trip intentions will initiate help if you are over due.
In case urgent rescue is needed, try to contact the police or any DOC employee. You can do this with a personal locator beacon (PLB), cellphone (although signal in the New Zealand outdoors is very limited), a hut radio, or send some people within your party to go for help (at least in groups of two).
The police can start a search and rescue operation. New Zealand Land Search & Rescue (LandSAR) is the national volunteer organisation within New Zealand providing land search & rescue services to the Police and public of New Zealand.
CUTC Safety Procedures
As part of our responsibilities, we hire out personal locator beacons for free (aside from a refundable deposit). We also operate a trip intentions service (BASE), allowing you to leave your intentions with us.
Please have a chat to a committee member if you have questions about staying safe in the outdoors.
Remember: you are responsible for your own safety in the outdoors—our trips are not professional guided tours!
The two documents are available for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.