Hash House Harriers began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, in 1938, when a small group of British colonial officials and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or "Hare and Hounds", to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend. The original members included Cecil Lee, Frederick "Horse" Thomson, Ronald "Torch" Bennett, Albert Stephen (A.S.) Ignatius "G" Gispert and John Woodrow.                                                                                                                           
After meeting for some months, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a "group," they would require a Constitution and an official name. A. S. Gispert suggested the name "Hash House Harriers" after the Selangor Club Annex, where the men were billeted, known as the "Hash House" for its notoriously monotonous food. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the trail, harriers reaching the end of the trail would be rewarded with beer, ginger beer and cigarettes.

The Constitution of the Hash House Harriers is recorded on a club registration card dated 1950:-
1. To promote physical fitness among our members
2. To get rid of weekend hangovers
3. To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
4. To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

Hashing died during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously opposed to civilian fun), but came back to life in the post-war years, spreading slowly through Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand, then exploding in popularity in the late 70s and early 80s. The first group formed in New Zealand was the Auckland Mens HHH, followed by Wellington Men's HHH in 1976.

Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, complete with newsletters, directories, and regional and world hashing conventions. This boom is owed largely to the power of the Internet to provide timely and accurate information on groups and their events and points of contact. Regional events including NZ Nash Hash which attracts 200 –300 runners. The next one being held in the Bay Of Islands in February 2017. The next world InterHash event is being held in Bali in May 2016.