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NZAC Annual Membership Survey 2023 Results

 Executive summary

The NZAC Annual Membership Survey 2023 was conducted using the same methods as previously but with a better turnout than the previous year. The results were similar to 2022 in many areas, with some improvements in the value for money of membership and the overall performance of the Club.

It also seemed that there were fewer rock climbers and boulders participating in the survey with an increase in the number of respondents saying they never undertake these activities. The most important services of the Club remain the alpine hut network followed by base huts, ClimbNZ database and guidebooks which all rank fairly evenly.

There was a new question asking for feedback on where to focus the NZAC energy and resources in the future. The answers generally supported status quo activities such as investment in huts, offering more snowcraft instruction, trips, and producing more guidebooks. The respondents were 95% Club members already, so this feedback is unsurprising.

The demographics of the respondents largely matched those of the Club membership in terms of geographic spread, age and gender.


The survey was developed on SurveyMonkey software as per previous years. The survey was open from April 4th – May 4th 2023, although the prize draw and promotion was up until April 20th. There were 506 responses, which was an improvement on last year (315 responses). It was open to members and non-members, although the questions available to non-members were limited to Q1 and 2, then Q7 onwards, thus excluding specific questions about NZAC services which non-members would not have access to. Twenty-five non-members answered the survey.

The survey was promoted through the NZAC email newsletter and on Facebook and Instagram. An incentive prize draw for a $150 Macpac voucher for completing the survey was included to drive participation, as per previous years.

1.0 Summary results

Current climbing and club involvement


Most participants identified as active climbers (62%) although this was slightly lower than last year (68%).

Joining NZAC


The reasons for joining the NZAC were in a very similar proportion to last year. There has been a slight increase in those answering travel insurance since the borders have opened and for the periodical publications.



As per last year, mountaineering, outdoor and indoor climbing were the most popular activities undertaken. However, indoor and outdoor climbers did decrease a little in this survey compared to last year (outdoor climbing never 2023 = 22%, 2022 = 14%; indoor climbing never 2023 = 24%, 2022 = 14%). Bouldering also followed this pattern with 37% stating they never did this activity in 2023, compared to 30% in 2022. In general, the answers for never participating in activities increased across the board in 2023.

Services offered


As with previous surveys, alpine huts were the most important service, with 68% saying that they are extremely important or very important. In second equal were Club lodges, guidebooks and ClimbNZ, all with top two category combined scores of 51%. This is similar to last year although base lodges ranked higher this year than previously. The services most often ranked unimportant were ski field discounts, climbing wall discounts and professionally led instruction. This was the same as last year.

Services used


The percentage of people using each service and the ranking of usage of services is very similar to the 2022 survey, with no changes in ranking.

Value for money


The value for money scores have improved marginally in 2023 from 2022. In 2023 63% of people responded that the NZAC membership offers excellent or very good value for money. In 2022 60% of people responded the same. Those ranking it bad or terrible value is similar in 2023 (2.52%) compared to 2022 (2.86%).

Overall performance of NZAC


The overall performance rating of the NZAC improved in 2023 with 68% or respondents saying it was either excellent or very good, compared to 2022 when 56% answered the same. The bottom answers remained similar to previous years with 2.27% answering bad or terrible in 2023 and 3.64% answering the same in 2022.

Focus areas for the future


A new question for 2023 was about where respondents would like to see the NZAC focusing its energy and resources. The number one ranking was investment into huts, followed by providing more snowcraft instruction and more trips in second equal. Fourth ranked was improving the usability of ClimbNZ (a project which is already underway), with producing guidebooks in fifth. The least popular option was restarting the National Boulder Series (outdoors). This is not surprising as the respondents didn’t contain a large number of boulderers.

Demographics of respondents

The demographics of the respondents generally mirror our membership in terms of age, gender and location.

2.0 Comments analysis

The comments data provides rich information. All the comments have been read and considered. We’ve created word clouds for each question. The more frequently a word appears in the comments section, the large the word appears in the cloud. It gives a quick and unbiased way of analysing the frequency of particular words in the comments.

This method has limitations. Synonyms are not accounted for and therefore some ideas may be diluted. There is no context provided for the words either.

What are NZAC doing well?

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What do NZAC need to improve?

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3.0 Discussion

Summary of results

As with previous surveys, the 2023 survey highlights that the NZAC is a diverse group of outdoor enthusiasts, with interests, opinions and priorities that often differ widely. Providing a balance of activities and services for this diverse group is always a challenge for the Club, and continues to be so. Interestingly, this year, there seem to be fewer rock climbers who have responded. It is difficult to know if this reflects the people who responded or a real shift in the Club membership.

The value of membership and overall performance of the Club has regained some ground after the drop last year. While this is pleasing, the performance of the Club is still marginally behind the levels of the 2019 survey (currently 68% compared to 70% in 2019).

What are we doing well?

Huts are always appreciated and the Aspiring Hut project received a few specific comments this year as a job well done. The huts as important services came through very strongly this year in the quantitative results, even stronger than last year. It signals that members see our alpine huts and base lodges as key assets for the Club.

Club communication was appreciated by members and there were a number of positive comments about the regular newsletter updates provided. There were also very few negative comments about communication which was an improvement on last year.

Courses were again popular, when there was availability to join them.

There were fewer comments about NZAC needing to improve its access work, and a number of comments about us continuing to support ACAT.

What do we need to improve?

As with last year, a lack of frequency and availability of trips and courses were common suggested improvements. The suggestions varied from providing more opportunities for specific interests or skill levels, to organizing the advertising of these opportunities to make them more accessible. The underlying theme was the same – more trips and courses, at more levels, that form a pathway, and are clearly advertised and easy to join. This is a tricky area to move the dial as it is largely volunteer led and organized through individual Sections.

ClimbNZ was another important service for members, but the comments highlighted the need for the upgrade of platform. This work is well underway with the first stage of the project going live in July.

There were some comments about people finding it difficult to integrate into the community and not feeling particularly welcome at Section nights.

There were some comments throughout the survey about the NZAC working to reduce carbon impacts, both through actions of the Club and advocating government on behalf of climbers.

The way forward

The 2023/24 annual plan has been developed to continue to build on the platform that we have established over the last few years.

As with last year, we will continue to focus on communications and membership. This includes initiatives to ensure that membership offers a good value proposition for a range of people, and that events and benefits are attractive.

The major sticking point that doesn’t already have planned improvements is around the availability of courses and trips. We have started consolidating information on the national website so that all opportunities are available in one place. The Section council is currently undergoing a refresh. Once this is completed, we will again start to focus on a more coordinated plan to improve this area of Club operation.