Orienteering and rogaining policy

Orienteering and rogaining are great ways for people to enjoy parks, but they must be managed to avoid damage to ecosystems, cultural sites and park infrastructure.

Bushwalking on Bob Turners Track Wollemi National ParkOrienteering and rogaining are competitive sports that involve navigating from point to point. Participants may move through parks, off established routes, for defined periods (up to 48 hours). For this reason, these activities have to be managed to minimise their potential impacts on park values and to ensure the safety of participants and other park visitors.

All sporting events in national parks require consent under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 (NPW Regulation) and must be consistent with the park’s plan of management.


1. Orienteering and rogaining events will be considered favourably as an appropriate use of selected parts of most national parks, regional parks and state conservation areas.

2. To hold an orienteering or rogaining event in a park, you need written consent from the park authority.

3. An orienteering and rogaining event must have:

  • an identifiable, accountable and appropriately insured organiser (whether an individual, group or association)
  • an identified route or area of operation
  • a defined timeframe (for instance, a half day, a day or a weekend).

4. Orienteering and rogaining events are not permitted in wilderness areas, nature reserves, Aboriginal areas and historic sites, because of the specific management principles and conservation requirements of these reserves.

5. In assessing which areas are suitable for orienteering and rogaining, the park authority must consider:

  • flora and fauna needing particular protection from disturbance
  • susceptibility of soils to erosion in general and under certain conditions (for instance, after rain or bushfire)
  • the impact on an Aboriginal site, Aboriginal place or object of cultural significance to Aboriginal people
  • the presence of natural hazards (cliffs, unstable slopes, caves, and so on)
  • potential conflicts with other visitors
  • management activities such as hazard-reduction burning, research and baiting
  • facilities available
  • the availability of alternative areas for the activity.

6. If one or more of these aspects presents a difficulty, and there are no suitable alternative areas, then before deciding to refuse consent the park authority should consider whether the difficulty can be dealt with by imposing specific conditions on an event.

7. Placing markers or other fixtures must not:

  • disturb the soil, substrate, rock or vegetation in a park
  • disturb wildlife
  • interfere with park infrastructure, or its use or operation.

You are not allowed to thin or remove plants to make markers visible.

8. The park authority accepts no responsibility for the security of markers and other fixtures (for instance, if they are moved or stolen before an event is held).

12. In accordance with the events, functions and venues policy, the park authority may charge a fee for the event.

13. The park authority may impose additional charges if NPWS needs to provide services for the event or the event organisers have asked for them. The services may include help at the event, the provision of barbecue fuel, supervision and site inspections.

14. The park authority may waive or reduce fees if:

  • only a small proportion of the course encroaches on the park, or
  • the event meets the criteria for waiving or reducing fees given in the Events, Functions and Venues Policy.

Information dissemination

15. The park authority will ensure that all peak NSW orienteering and rogaining associations are made aware of the policy and procedures for orienteering and rogaining.

16. Organisers of orienteering and rogaining events will be responsible for providing all event participants with the bushwalking code of ethics. The park authority will give organisers copies of the code for distribution. This can be done when regional staff consult with event organisers to provide information about the area or park (refer to paragraph 27).

Preliminary consultation

17. It is in the interests of both the park authority and orienteering and rogaining groups to commence discussions and arrangements for events as early as possible. If you are proposing to hold an event in a park, please consult the park authority before lodging a written application for consent. This will reduce the processing time for your application.

18. Preparing for orienteering and rogaining events can take a long time. Preliminary consultations between the park authority and orienteering and rogaining groups can establish the suitability of a broadly defined area to accommodate such events. As planning progresses, further discussions between event organisers and the park authority should identify more specifically where events can take place.

19. Preliminary consultations should establish whether orienteering and rogaining are appropriate in an area under normal conditions. However, preliminary consultation does not guarantee consent for the activity. Orienteering and rogaining events cannot proceed in a park without final written consent from the park authority.

Consent application process

20. Where an orienteering or rogaining event is proposed in an area that contains a site or object of Aboriginal cultural significance, the event organisers must consult the relevant local Aboriginal communities and/or local Aboriginal Land Council about any potential impacts and associated cultural issues. The park authority can help with this process if required. If the park authority has concerns about the potential heritage impact of the proposed activity, it will seek advice from the Heritage Division of the Office of Environment and Heritage.

21. When you apply to hold an orienteering or regaining event in a park, you must include:

  • the name and phone numbers of the relevant organisation and the contact person
  • the title and status (for instance, local or national) of the event
  • the proposed date, time and duration of event
  • a map showing the assembly area, the start and finish points, and proposed control sites or courses. (NPWS staff must treat the information on control sites and courses as confidential.)
  • estimates of the number of participants, organisers and spectators likely to attend the event
  • arrangements for waste management (no-waste events should be encouraged where possible)
  • arrangements for car parking.

Some of these details may not be known at the time you apply. In that case, the park authority may approve your application upon the condition that you’ll provide further information before the event. The park authority may also impose additional conditions.

22. Where orienteering and rogaining events are a common occurrence, the relevant local NPWS office should prepare a pro-forma consent document. Such a pro-forma could specify standard conditions for all events and also allow for particulars relating to a specific event.

23. At the discretion of the park authority, you can put in a single consent application to cover several events, as long as:

  • all proposed events will be held in the one NPWS area (contact your local NPWS office to find out which parks are in a particular area)
  • all proposed events will occur in the same calendar year (if an event is deferred until the next year, you’ll have to apply again for consent for that event)
  • you give all the details for all the events in the application.

24. Consent is not transferable between any persons or organisations.

25. Consent may be denied where an identifiable group has breached the conditions of previous approvals, and should be denied to any group that has shown itself to be irresponsible and an unreasonable user of the park. The park authority will also provide details of the group that breached conditions to the relevant peak organising body for the activity.

Promotion and Education

26. Regional staff should view the consultative process between the park authority and local orienteering and rogaining groups as an opportunity to enhance community understanding of the natural and cultural values of the park in which the event is to occur. Where appropriate, event organisers should be given interpretive information about the park and encouraged to promote an understanding of the park's natural and cultural values among the event participants. This should help make participants more aware of the park’s management requirements.

27. Regional staff may also negotiate with stakeholder associations to undertake monitoring of the impacts of an event on the park over a realistic timeframe. These impacts could include trampling damage to vegetation, soil erosion, and the establishment of new but self-sustaining walking routes.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017


This policy is to:

  • help manage orienteering and rogaining within parks to minimise environmental and cultural heritage impacts
  • provide a basis for communications between the park authority and the organisers of orienteering and rogaining events
  • help ensure that recreational use within a park maintains an appropriate level of safety, equity, harmony and satisfaction amongst park visitors.

Scope and application

This policy applies to all land acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (‘parks’).


Aboriginal Area means lands dedicated as an Aboriginal area under section 30K of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Declared wilderness areas are those lands declared as wilderness under the Wilderness Act 1987.

Orienteering is a competitive sport which involves participants visiting on foot a set number of flagged control points between a start line and a finish line in the shortest possible time. Participants select individual routes and use a map and compass to navigate the course. Courses are usually set in bushland and vary in length but are generally two to 15 kilometres. There may be a number of courses of varying length and difficulty set at each event. Courses are usually completed in 20 minutes to two hours. Special orienteering maps (usually 1:10,000 or 1:15,000 scale) are prepared in advance of events. The nature of orienteering requires that events be held in unfamiliar territory and off established routes or tracks. Events aren’t held frequently in the same area, to minimise the risk of competitors becoming familiar with the terrain.

Park authority means the body responsible for the care, control and management of a park, as defined in the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.

Rogaining is the competitive sport of long distance cross-country navigation. The objective of rogaining is to collect the highest score by finding checkpoints within a set time limit (generally 24 hours). Teams of 2 to 5 members travel entirely on foot, navigating with the aid of a topographic map and compass. Teams select their own order of visiting checkpoints. The classic rogaine includes both day and night navigation.

Relevant legislation or other mandating instruments

  • National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
  • National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009


Paragraph Position
2. Administering consents Area Manager
9. Determining timing of an event Area Manager
12–14. Determining fees and charges Regional Director
15. Ensuring that peak orienteering and rogaining bodies are made aware of the OEH policy Senior Team Leader, Strategy and Policy Team
17–19. Preliminary consultation Area Manager
20. Seeking advice on potential heritage impact Area Manager
21–25. Administering consents Area Manager
26. Promoting community education and understanding Area Manager
27. Monitoring impacts Area Manager