Auckland Tramping Club is nearing 100 years old, having formed in October 1925. 

And what a history we have!

Some highlights are below but be sure to also visit our separate ATC History website – a remarkable collection of photos, early tramp programmes, newsletters and annual reports from our beginnings right through to the present day. But be warned, you could get lost for days in there!

ATC Archives home

Time to Start Tramping and Boil the Billy

ATC trampers 1925 on Rangitoto IslandThe founding club hike occurred on October 18th, 1925, to the bottom of the crater on Rangitoto Island.

A few firsts occurred there - the first cup of ATC tea, the first committee meeting, and the first subscription payments!

It was agreed to run a tramping trip every Sunday, so a trip programme was quickly established, and even in those early days this quite often involved two trip options - a longer tramp and a shorter one.

Ngaro Te Kotare - The Hidden Lookout

Ngaro Te Kotare Hut construction 1929Membership grew steadily, with many day and overnight tramp into the Waitakeres - then an area quite remote from the city.

A desire for a permanent weekend base there resulted in the club purchasing a block of land of regenerating farmland near Anawhata Road and constructing a hut - Ngaro Te Kotare (The Hidden Lookout).

This quickly became a centre of club life with many trips and social occasions taking advantage of this special location as the bush grew up around it.

Ngaro Te Kotare still stands, has been well maintained over the years and continues to be enjoyed today. Click on the ATC Huts tab above to read more.

Te Hapua - A Second Hut

Old Auckland Tramping Club Hut Hunua RangesBut city expansion continued and transport links improved, so that within a decade the Waitakeres was no longer the isolated haven that it had been previously.

In 1937 the club then built a second hut - Te Hapua (Sheltered Hollow in the Hills). This was located beside the upper Mangatawhiri River in the Hunua Ranges.

This too supported many overnight tramps into the area - a recent compilation of trips run in the area refers to many tracks and routes that no longer have any trace or current knowledge.

Unfortunately the hut had to be demolished in 1961 as a result of the valley being taken over for the construction of the Upper Mangatawhiri water reservoir.

Transport for an Adventurous Club

By the 1930's trips further afield were starting to use truck / bus transport, so as to take trampers closer to road ends, and to provide a base for the time away.

This allowed multi day tramps to occur all over the top half of the North Island - and further afield too. Transport could be just a little bracing though! (Compare our luxury Club transport of today.)

Old Auckland Tramping Club truck full of trampers

Early Auckland Tramping club transport

Early Auckland Tramping Club truck transport


Some of the bridges were very adventurous too - they would terrify today's trampers!

Auckland Tramping Club trampers walking across bridge 1930s282 0328

Auckland Tramping Club members at Fairy Falls Swanson 1961 Sept 17th

Wanderlust - It Says It All

The club's monthly magazine, Wanderlust, was first produced in 1936, and has continued 11 monthly editions per year since. The first photo below shows the cover header of the very first edition.

In 1941 the front cover header as we know it was introduced (second photo), and remained unchanged until 2015, and the current form is from 2018 (third photo).

Wanderlust is always a great place to find information about upcoming tramps, fun trip reports, and other information useful for keen trampers.

Wanderlust Volume 1 Number 1Wanderlust Header 1941

Wanderlust Header 2018

Memorial Hut

The club's third hut was Memorial Hut at Mt Ruapehu, built by members after the end of the second World War, and named as a memorial to ATC members who served and died in that conflict.

It too has a long history which is summarised on the ATC Huts tab above. Major amounts of club members' time went into the initial construction, some major extensions, as well as the challenging requirements of maintaining a hut at 1580m altitude in an exhilirating alpine location.

Mem Hut Opening Day Easter 1950  Early Mem Hut 1958   

1966 Mem HutMemHut Lounge Extension

We Graduated from Trucks to a Bus

Over the years we have had a few buses, and a really grand band of drivers.

The first two photos show earlier ATC vehicles, the last two our previous bus being manoeuvred in a tight spot, and our latest bus under construction.

116 On a West Coast Beach079 Ruapehu 5

Waima 12015 03 05 2

ATC 90th Birthday

Our ATC 90th celebration in 2015 was well attended ... roll on the Big 100!

ATC 90th birthday ceebration


ATC Huts

The Club has built and owned three huts over its almost 100 year history.

The first, Ngaro Te Kotare, was opened in the Waitakere Ranges in 1929 and continues to be enjoyed by Club members and the public alike.

Te Hapua Hut in the Hunuas followed shortly after, flourishing for 24 years before making way for the Mangatawhiri Reservoir – read more.

The third was Memorial Hut, a comfortable ski lodge in a spectacular location on the flanks of Ruapehu.

Ngaro Te Kotare past and present

To book Ngaro Te Kotare, use our hut booking form.

The Club bought a 7.5 acre site in the Waitakere Ranges in 1928 with the assistance of a loan from various members. Before that time the bush had been cleared and the land farmed.

Since 1928 the bush has made a remarkable recovery, so the hut is now situated in a grassy clearing surrounded by thick bush and mature trees.

Building started in December 1928 with foundation blocks cut from the remains of a fallen totara.

Clearing Ngaro Te Kotare building site    Ngaro Te Kotare Hut opening 1929

Construction progressed remarkably quickly given its then remote location. Imagine this – on most weekends club members would catch the Saturday afternoon train to Henderson and walk the nine miles to the hut site carrying building materials on top of their packs!

Ngaro Te Kotare was officially opened on 17 March 1929, and immediately became an indispensable part of Club life. Right through to the 1960s the hut was used most weekends.

However in later years as the Waitakeres became less remote and accessing tramping areas outside Auckland much easier, use dropped off. It’s now somewhat of a best kept secret, a wonderful getaway within very easy reach of Auckland.

It has also been a location for several movies – Star Sam Neill is reported to have made himself right at home during the filming of Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

In June 2019 the club held a celebratory 90th birthday party for and at Ngaro Te Kotare – see the report and photos. And we’re already thinking about it’s centenary celebration …

The hut remains a valuable and much-loved Club asset and is an integral part of our history. For up to date information on Ngaro Te Kotare see our hut booking page.

NTK new deck 2022

Memorial Hut aka ATC SnowSports Lodge

ATC's Memorial Hut was one of the fist club lodges to be built at Iwikau Village, Mt Ruapehu. It was a mammoth club effort, commenced in 1945 and culminating in the official opening during Easter, 1950.

At the time club trips were starting to travel more frequently away from the Auckland area, and the expansion into providing a base for skiing and other alpine activities well suited the Club’s membership profile – younger and more family centric than today’s membership.

ATC SnowSports Lodge

The new hut was named Memorial Hut as a memorial to club members who served in the second world war, particularly the five club members who died while serving overseas.

A roll of honour (see next tab) was created and hung at the hut until 2018, at which point the original was gifted to the Auckland Museum, with a copy made and now on display at Ngaro Te Kotare Hut. There is plaque attached to the outside of the hut that remembers the five club members who did not return.

2007 Field Trip Descending slopes of Tongariro by Victoria Pike

The hut became a major base for club skiing, climbing, tramping and working bee activities on Mt Ruapehu through the following decades, with a number of major extensions making it into a true mountain lodge, including a large lounge area with stunning views to the surrounding landscapes.

No two sunrises or sunsets were the same, irrespective of the time of year.

Over the years club usage of Memorial Hut declined, with the hut’s committed finances being supported increasingly by non-member usage – school groups and Defence Forces Antarctic training amongst others. The Club embarked on various initiatives to increase usage.

However, in 2017 the Club made the difficult decision to find a new owner for the hut, with this resulting in the transfer to a group of 5 central North Island schools in September 2018.

One of 3 huts built by the Club, Memorial Hut has played a central role in the Club's history.


The Roll of Honour


The Roll is a hand-painted artwork listing members of ATC who fought during World War 2.

Roll of honour

It was originally hung in Memorial Hut, our former lodge on Mount Ruapehu, where it remained until the Club transferred the lodge to the Central Plateau Schools in 2018.

At that stage the roll was removed. Given it is a significant artwork requiring long term preservation, the Club gifted it to the Auckland Museum. In return, the Museum provided us with a high quality, slightly amended replica and electronic copies.

The photo is of the replica, now on display in ATC's Ngaro Te Kotare hut in the Waitakeres.

Origin of the Roll

Dorothy Mays, a club member, painted the Roll and gifted it to the club in April 1944. This was 13 months before VE Day - the end of the war in Europe.

Dorothy left the final two digits for the year the war ended blank, to be filled in later when hostilities ceased. The number ‘45’ was added later in a noticeably different lettering style.

The fallen

5 men died in service:

  •  Sub.Lt.  Doug Callow, died at sea, May 1943
  •  Roy Herrick, posted missing in Crete, August 1941 
  •  F.O. John McMillan, killed on crash landing, May 1944
  •  Cyril Miller, killed in action, Italy, December 1944
  •  Staff Sgt. Fred Archer killed by accident, Italy, August 1945

On the replica the names of all five men killed are marked with a red star.

The mystery of the red stars

Whilst our replica marks all 5 of the fallen, the original has only three red stars, next to:

  •  Doug Callow
  •  John McMillan
  •  Cyril Miller

At the time Dorothy completed the Roll, only Doug Callow was known to have been killed. We don’t know whether Dorothy had painted a star next to Doug’s name at that time.

Equally, we don’t know when stars were added next to the other two names, John and Cyril. Or who painted them in.

And it remains a mystery why stars weren’t subsequently added next to the names of the other two men killed – Fred and Roy.

The 21st birthday issue of Wanderlust (1946) has the five men listed as having died during the war and their names are starred in that edition.

But there’s no explanation in any of our old Wanderlusts why Fred and Roy’s names lack stars.

Thus the replica differs from the original in that it shows a red star alongside the names of all five men who died.


Known information from old Wanderlust magazines about the five ATC members who gave their lives is as follows:

1936 Roy Herrick joins ATC.
1938 Fred Archer joins ATC.
1939 John Mc Millan joins ATC.
1940 Roy Herrick and Dot Blackford married 23/1/40.
1941 Doug Callow joins ATC. 
1941 Roy Herrick missing in Crete. 
1941 Cyril Miller married Aug 1941,on final leave.
1942 Cyril Miller in Egypt.
1942 John McMillan in training with Air Force.
1943 Sub.Lt. Doug Callow missing believed killed.
1944 Roll of Honour given to ATC. 
1944 F.O. John McMillan killed on crash landing.
1944 Cyril Miller killed in action Italy.
1945 Cyril Miller's wife gifts Ruapehu photo to ATC.
1945 Fred Archer posted to Middle East. 
1945 Staff Sgt. Fred Archer killed by accident 13/8/45 Maadi Camp hospital. 
1946 Roy Herrick: widow officially notified of his death on Crete 2/6/41.


Grateful Thanks

Particular thanks are due to Ian Roberts for his exemplary investigative efforts, trolling through various military records and decades of old Wanderlusts and Club archives, and comprehensively documenting the provenance and history of the Roll.


Historical Photos

Enjoy these photos, BUT for hundreds more, be sure to also check out our separate Auckland Tramping Club history website – a fantastic archive of photos, newsletters and documents dating right from our formation in 1925 through to the present day.

Club trips, 1930s style

Getting there could be an ordeal in itself ...

ATC 1930s 1  ATC 1930s 3


ATC 1930s 2 ATC 1930s 6


ATC 1930s 4   ATC 1930s 5

An assortment of photos from the early years

On a boat at Whatipu Wharf, 1928

Trampers on boat at Whatipu Wharf 1928

Group at the base of a large kauri, 1929

Trampers at kauri tree 1929

Ngaro te Kotare hut opening, 1929

Ngaro te Kotare hut opening 1929

A Club tramp to Nihotupu reservoir, c. 1930

Trampers at Nihotupu reservoir 1930

Club trampers on West Coast Rd, 1931

Trampers on West Coast Rd

Pararaha Gorge logjam, 1932

Trampers negotiating Pararaha Gorge logjam 1932

Karamatura Gorge, 1933

Trampers in Karamatura Gorge 1933

Top of Karamatura Track, 1933

Trampers on the Karamatura Track 1933

Posing on bush bridge Taupaki, 1930s

Trampers posing on bush bridge at Taupaki 1930s

West coast sand dune, 1930s

Trampers on a West coast sand dune 1930s

Whatipu Stream, 1935

ATC trampers in the Whatipu Stream 1935

Karekare campsite, 1942

Trampers at a Karekare campsite 1942

Pukematekeo Trig, 1942

Trampers at Pukematekeo Trig 1942

Ngaro te Kotare, 1945

ATC members at Ngaro te Kotare hut 1945

Destruction Gully camp, 1945

ATC trampers camping at Destruction Gully 1945

Club bus, 1953

Aucklnd Tramping Club bus 1953