Canterbury Schools Orienteering Festival 2024

(Incorporating the South Island Secondary Schools orienteering champs).

The Canterbury Schools Orienteering Festival is an annual event with the dual aims of providing an introduction to orienteering for school aged students as well as competitive race for experienced orienteers. For the 2024 event, this will also incorporate the South Island Secondary Schools orienteering champs.

If you are school aged and go to a primary, intermediate, high school or are homeschooled in Canterbury (or anywhere else in the South Island), you can enter this schools orienteering festival. Plenty of training opportunities to learn and practice your orienteering skills are available around Christchurch in the weeks before the festival.

This two-day competition has something for everyone. You can choose to orienteer on your own in a Competitive grade if you have orienteering experience; or compete with friends or whanau in the Fun competition. We welcome all students, from beginner orienteers who have never orienteered before, to experienced orienteers vying for podium places. 


The events for 2024 are:

  • Day 1: Saturday 7th September – Shorter distance park/urban event. South Brighton. Starts from 1:30 p.m.
  • Day 2: Sunday 8th September – Longer distance forest event. Bottle Lake. Starts from 10:30 a.m.

You can enter both days or just one.
We are planning to have other activities in addition to the orienteering courses. Maze orienteering, orienteering string course for pre-schoolers, sausage sizzle, lolly scramble and more.

We will have a prizegiving at the end of each day with certificates for placegetters plus spot prizes!  

Cost and entries:

Cost is $10 per child per day. 

Includes hire of a Sportident stick for recording your time at each control/check point (or you can bring your own if you have one).

Unless you have been told otherwise by your school, entries and payments will be done for each student by their family.

Entries will open in August 2024 and close on Monday 2nd September 2024.
All payments by credit card during the entry process.
Schools wishing to do a bulk entries and bulk payments should email for instructions. 

If you wish to change to a different grade or withdraw from a race, please fill this form: <form to come>. Changes must be made prior to entries closing on Mon 2nd Sept.


What you need

  • Sense of sportsmanship and fun!.
  • Clothing according to the weather conditions, footwear suitable for activity.
  • A compass if you have one.

What we’ll provide

  • A map with the course marked on.
  • Descriptions of the location of the controls/checkpoints.
  • A Sportident stick for recording your time at each control/check point.
    Students can bring their own if they have one. 

The best course for you?

Fun Grade:

If you are a beginner or want to have fun with friends and whanau! 

Never orienteered before? Want to orienteer with a friend or with family?  Would you feel more confident if someone followed you around the course?  All the fun courses are suitable for beginners.  There are three courses to choose from ranging in navigational difficulty, great for those wanting to choose an easier course that allocated to their school year. 
The definition for each course is detailed below

  • Fun Easy. This course follows line features such as tracks, fences, streams and hedges. There is a control at every “decision point” so the runner just chooses which direction to run in. The course is very short between 800m to 2.0km. No compass is needed.
    (Equivalent to "White" level at normal club event).
  • Medium. This course requires a basic level of navigation as the runner must make 2-3 decisions between controls, and some controls will be placed 10-20m off the line features. There is still a line feature between controls but there may be two options a runner can take. The length of this course is between 1.5 and 3km. A compass is not necessary but it is recommended.  
    This course is recommended for School Years 7 and over and for high school students that have never orienteered before.
    (Equivalent to "Yellow" level at normal club event).
  • Hard. This course has more advanced navigation, similar to the year 10-11 competitive grade. Line features can still be followed but they are not as obvious, so it helps to have a knowledge of basic terrain features. There are route choice options but the course will have a more “off track” feel. A compass and knowledge of how to use it to keep a map oriented is essential.
    Recommended for school years 10 and up and great for older high school students that want to race as a team.
    (Equivalent to "Orange" level at normal club event).

Competitive Grade: 

For competitive entries in the Canterbury Schools Champs and South Island Schools Champs.
For those that have orienteering experience and are confident about completing a course on their own (there are no team entries allowed in the competitive grades).

Competitive grades are according to your year at school (students in years 1-4 are welcome in the fun grades):

  • Years 5-6: Beginner (White level)
  • Years 7-8: Beyond beginner (Yellow level)
  • Year 9: Beyond beginner (longer) (Yellow level)
  • Year 10-11: Intermediate (Orange level)
  • Year 12-13: Experienced (Red level)

Start Times: 

All students will be allocated a specific time to start their race. On Saturday the start times are from 1.30p.m. On Sunday the start times are from 10:30 a.m.
If you have other commitments and need an early or late start time, please fill in this form with your request: <form to come>
Start time request must be made prior to entries closing on Mon 2nd Sept. We will do our best to accommodate requests but these cannot be guaranteed. 


There will be after school training opportunities around Christchurch starting four weeks prior to the festival, to practice your orienteering skills.
Check back here after the start of August for details. 


The final event programme and start times will be sent out to all entrants by email on the Wednesday before the festival weekend.

Any questions regarding this event, please email

Training events for school students: 6th Aug - 5th Sept 2024

Tuesday 6 August 2024
Various schools and parks around Christchurch
Event Type:
Orienteering training and coaching
Coaching and practise is offered to all school-aged children at all levels. No booking required, just turn up with your running shoes and a compass if you have one. Bring your own Sportident stick if you have one, otherwise we will lend you one (a Sportident stick is a microchip...
more info

Canterbury & SI Schools, urban/park event. South Brighton

Saturday 7 September 2024
South New Brighton
Event Type:
Schools event
Christina Freeman
Jean Cory-Wright
Jonathan Hunt
Canterbury schools orienteering festival - incorporating South Island Secondary Schools champs.Urban/park event. South New Brighton.
more info

Canterbury & SI Schools, forest event. Bottle Lake

Sunday 8 September 2024
Bottle Lake
Event Type:
Schools event
David Wright
Tim Wright
Lisa Chubb
Canterbury schools orienteering festival - incorporating South Island Secondary Schools champs.Forest event. Bottle Lake.
more info