New Zealand is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery on planet Earth – God’s own country, GODZone, right? However, it is the striking variety that makes it such an unrivalled place for an adventure race. Other countries may offer unique environments but what you get here is almost the whole spectrum of climate zones and related impact that has on the geology, flora and fauna. Draw a line across the 45th parallel of not much more than 100km and you can experience:
Majestic fiords, rainforest, alpine forest, glacial high mountains, tussock & temperate grassland, semi-desert landscapes.
The spine of the Southern Alps is the catalyst for this eclectic mix and we want teams participating in GODZone to experience as much of this variety as possible. Maybe not all of them in every Chapter of the event but, rest assured, you’ll enjoy an ever-changing backdrop and that will in itself bring challenges to every team. What works in the rainforest of the west won’t necessarily work in the arid zones of the east. We want teams to have to think for themselves and use their skills to conquer the terrain challenges ahead of them
Teams should expect and prepare to navigate across tracked and untracked terrain, often in very remote areas. A key ingredient of reaching the finish of GODZone will be the ability to interpret the terrain and prepare for the unique challenges encountered. Teams who have experienced previous Chapters of GODZone will be well aware of the need to be competent in the wilderness and to be able to choose optimal and safe routes in both daylight and darkness.
Terrain Around Tasman
One things for sure, there is going to an exceptionally diverse range of landscapes for Chapter 5. Nelson Lakes National Park is best known for its lakes, both large and small, offers tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams, open tussock lands and river-edge clearings. During the last Ice Age, massive glaciers gouged out troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River. Today these troughs are filled by Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa, which are the largest lakes in the area.
Moving towards the coast and the noticeable features are the golden sandy beaches, the fascinating rocky outcrops (mainly granite but with a scattering of limestone and marble), the estuaries, and the offshore islands. The vegetation cover varies and reflects a history of fires and land clearance, but the forests are regenerating well, especially in damp gullies where a rich variety of plants can be found. Black beech/tawhai dominates the drier ridges.
If you travel back inland you will find, Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand’s second largest natural protected area; it has some of the country’s oldest rocks and landforms, and spectacular areas of limestone and marble sculptured into caves, arches and stunning outcrops by water. The variety of rock types, coupled with the range of altitudes and landforms (plateaux, valley floors, glaciated mountain-top and rocky coastline) provide a diverse range of habitats for plants and animals. The park is far enough north, and at a low enough altitude, to have escaped the worst effects of recent ice ages. Many alpine communities, overrun by ice further south, found refuge in Kahurangi. From there they recolonised the high mountains when the ice finally retreated, about 10,000 years ago. Kahurangi today has more than half of New Zealand’s 2400-odd native plant species and over 80% of all alpine species.