Location of participating field stations

Auckland District Field Exercise

23 January 2021

On Saturday morning 23 January 2021 North Shore AREC group organized a half day field exercise for amateurs throughout the Auckland region. The objective was to set up field stations at various locations around the city, and relay pre-written messages from the field back to a base station at the North Shore Branch clubrooms.

To increase the level of difficulty the field stations were encouraged to relay their messages via at least one other field station using a variety of VHF or UHF simplex channels, HF USB or CDEM ESB band repeaters. Use of STSP portable repeaters was also within the rules.

Around 25 people took part in the exercise, with a total of 13 stations established around the region.

North Shore AREC Exercise HQ at the Civil Defence and Emergency Management building, Sunnynook

The operation commenced at about 0900 hrs and once everyone had reached their designated location and set up their stations the message traffic commenced at about 10:00 and continued until about 12:30

Papakura AREC set up an STSP repeater on Redoubt Rd Manukau and a relay base at Papakura Branch clubrooms. This base relayed messages from the STSP repeater to North Shore od VHF simplex.

Field station of Ian ZL1AOX at a suburban location in Papakura

Peter ZL1PJH Operating from Grahams Beach on the Manukau Harbour

Graham ZL1GMB handling traffic on
the Civil Defence VHF network

Each station was provided with pre-written messages which were obscure sentences containing plain text, acronyms, abbreviations and figures. These were obtained form the US Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) website and were designed make it less likely that operators could infer the message from the context rather than actually recording what was transmitted.


Dennis ZL1TAY operating the HF radio at base.

Waiheke Island station with ZL1PMY Joe operating

Overall feedback from participants indicates it was an enjoyable morning and it is already clear that there will be lots of learnings from the operation.

Thanks to all who took part. We need to do more of this type of activity in order to rejuvenate AREC and raise our profile among the amateur fraternity and the public. Hands up anyone else who would like to help design and run an activity?

“For me, the best thing was that the exercise happened at all. AREC were the most visible we have been since I became a ham three years.

I was at Grahams Beach on the Awhitu Peninsula. A young man and his wife pulled up beside me in an enormous motorhome. As he pulled on the handbrake, he glanced across at the five-metre antenna that extended upwards from my tow bar. He opened his door and walked across the grass towards me.

“Is the cell phone system down?” he asked.

“No,” I answered. “We are doing an exercise to exchange messages.”

“How far can your radio reach?” he asked.

“This one can cover all of Auckland,” I answered.

He thought about this for a few seconds. “I thought you could reach further than that,” he remarked.

“Oh, we can,” I replied. “But for today we are testing how well we can cover Auckland if the cell system did go down.”

He nodded. He had rolled up at a beach, seen my antenna and guessed immediately there was something that involved an emergency in what I was doing. The more exercises we do like this one, where people can see and talk with us, the more the public will see ham radio as a valuable community asset.

Just keep them coming!”