Story: Minor outdoor sports

Taking part in outdoor sport is a way of life for many New Zealanders, bringing with it the thrill of competition and the pleasure of social interaction. Kiwis have embraced outdoor sports of many kinds from around the world, from dragon boat racing to American football.

Story by Megan Cook
Main image: The 2008 New Zealand Open Beach Volleyball semi-finals

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American football

An American football team is made up of 11 attacking and 11 defensive players. Whether an attacking or defensive unit is on the field depends on whether the team has possession of the ball. The team with possession of the ball uses its attacking players to carry or pass the ball to the scoring area at the end of the field to score a touchdown or field goal. The sport has been played in New Zealand since 1980, and in the early 2000s there were leagues in Auckland and Wellington.

Australian rules football

Australian rules is played on an oval field by two teams of 18 players who can position themselves anywhere on the field. Players move the ball by kicking, carrying or handballing (punching the ball) and aim to kick the ball through the opposing team’s goal posts. It was first played in New Zealand in the 1860s. In 2013 it was being played in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury.

Gaelic football

Gaelic football has been described as a mix between football, rugby and basketball. The goal posts look like rugby posts with a net below the crossbar. Players can kick, carry and pass the ball, and points are scored when the ball is kicked over the crossbar or past the goalkeeper into the net. Most New Zealand players are from overseas, mainly Ireland, or are the descendants of Irish immigrants.

Beach volleyball

Beach volleyball is played by two teams of two players on a sand court. Points are scored when the ball lands outside the court or cannot be returned over the net in three hits or less. It has been played in New Zealand since the 1970s and is most popular in the north of the North Island where the milder weather encourages play.

Croquet

Croquet can be played as a singles or doubles game and involves each side using a mallet to hit balls through six hoops and then against a peg in the middle of the lawn. Croquet was brought to New Zealand in colonial times and was associated with the well-to-do, but in the 2000s it was played by a wide range of people. In 2013 there were 134 croquet clubs around New Zealand.

Dragon boat racing

In dragon boat racing a crew of 20 paddlers paddle a 10- to 12-metre long boat. A ‘drummer’ sets the rhythm and pace, and a ‘sweep’ steers the boat with a long-handled oar. Dragon boating is a popular team sport for schools, businesses and other organisations.

Orienteering

Orienteering courses can be set up almost anywhere. Individuals or teams navigate their way through the course with the aid of a map and sometimes a compass. Orienteering is an adaptable sport and different versions have been developed including ski and mountain bike orienteering, and rogaining which is a long-distance, endurance form of orienteering. In 2013 there were 17 orienteering clubs around New Zealand.

How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Minor outdoor sports', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/minor-outdoor-sports (accessed 25 September 2018)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 Sep 2013