Mushing in New Zealand started in the 1980’s and grew in to the sport it is today, now recognising thirteen individual Sled Dog Racing Clubs under the ruling body of the New Zealand Federation of Sled Dog Sports.
‘As far as I am aware the first team of dogs were hooked up in New Zealand, Queens Birthday Weekend 1982 by Charline Wasson who was the first person to import Siberians to NZ in 1977, and was the first breeder of Siberians in this country’ says Lynne McLaughlan. Lynne, with her husband Peter, have been Siberian Husky owners and mushers for the last ten years.
Charline Wasson, of Hunevoss Kennels, took her first ride on a three wheeled rig in 1980 when she visited Sally Leich of Forstal Kennels in England, while there to look at Siberian Huskies to import to NZ for breeding. She also attended a Working Rally to see other teams in action as she wanted to pursue the dual working and show dogs.
‘Along with Chris Bergman and her two Siberians, and Charlines six they had a good selection to make up their initial team. From their first four dog teams they gradually increased the number up to eight. An ideal trail was found up at the Desert Plateau so off they set with their families and yodelling excited dogs, for New Zealands first ever sled dog team run. Then in 1984 I think the first official Sled Dog Race was held in the South Island by the Otago Sled Dog Club’ says Lynne.
New Zealand Mushing Milestones:
1982 First sled dog teams run by founding Siberian Husky breeder Charlene Wasson, and Chris Bergman
1980’s Sled dog races where taking place in New Zealand, organised by Siberian Husky or Sled Dog Racing Clubs that were being formed.
1989 The Auckland Sled Dog Club organised a 2 km bike race, for single dogs.
1990’s Racing numbers grew, and the variety of classes increased, including freight classes and weight pull events.
1991 First snow race held in South Island by Southern Regions Sled Dog Club.
1992 A group of enthusiasts got together to form a common set of rules that would be used by all clubs.
1993 The NZ Federation of Sleddog Sports was formed to develop a structure that would allow individual clubs to run their own races, but with a common set of rules based on the International Sled Dog Racing Association (IRSDA) rules, and amended for local temperatures, conditions and terrain. The initial membership was the Auckland Siberian Husky Club, Auckland Sled Dog Club, Ridge Runners Sled Dog Club, Central Territories Siberian Husky Club and Northern Alaskan Malamute Club.
1994 The first NZFSS Yearbook was introduced.
1995 The NZFSS joined the International Federation of Sleddog Sports (IFSS) as full voting members.
1997 NZFSS members agreed on a Racing awards program.
1998 The NZFSS was officially recognised by the NZ Kennel Club.