Tararua main range
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WMRS History

During the late 1960s a group of radio enthusiasts who were members of the Canterbury Mountaineering Club and C/W Section New Zealand Alpine Club developed lightweight 2-way radios for their own use. These were so successful that wider use resulted in the formation of the mountain radio services to hire radios to the public.

The early sets used amplitude modulation (AM) - a relatively simple system. In 1973 a change in licensing requirements meant that new services were required to use more complex single side band (SSB) equipment, with existing services having 10 years to phase out use of AM. As there was no suitable (ie sufficiently light) SSB equipment available, WMRS was established before the deadline in 1973 using AM equipment.

By this time services based in Christchurch, Invercargill, Wellington and Napier were in operation, using a variety of NZ made radios, and operating under independently obtained Post Office licenses. A NZ federation of Mountain Radio Services established in 1975 achieved uniform licensing arrangements and the coordinated operation of all services.

During the late 1970s it became apparent that the only SSB equipment commercially available exceeded the weight of the AM sets in use by a large margin. With the deadline for phasing out AM sets on the horizon WMRS developed its own SSB design and eventually met the demanding performace specifications laid down by the licensing authorities. Over 100 of these sets were produced, and some are still in use. A commercially produced smaller set using thick film technology became available during the late 1980s, and was widely used by SAR and mountain radio services. These are now reaching the end of their service life.

New radios are being purchased as funds permit. The new radios have additional features and the potential to link into the public telephone network.top of page

Cone campsite

Original AM set in use circa 1975

AM set in use