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.
The Terrain Around Lake Wanaka
Chapter 4 is very much about a return to the high mountains, environments and terrain of the Southern Alps. The terrain around this part of New Zealand is rugged and beautiful, offering a huge amount of opportunities for adventure and exploration. As with much of New Zealand, it only takes a short effort to get off the beaten track and a sense of glorious isolation for the teams will take over. As organisers we strongly believe in showcasing the spectacular, getting teams out into the back country and giving them the chance to explore a wide variety of different terrain types, climate zones and native vegetation. The region around Wanaka, with it’s close proximity to The Divide (wet and wild to the west, dry and harsh to the east) gives a great opportunity for us to do that and we’re extremely excited about the course that lays in front of the teams.
Lake Wanaka itself lies at the heart of the Otago Lakes in the lower South Island of New Zealand. The township is situated in a glacier carved basin on the shores of the lake and is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Lake Hawea is a 15 minute drive away, en route to the frontier town of Makarora, the last stop before the West Coast Glacier region. To the south is the historic Cardrona Valley, offering an alpine route to neighbouring Queenstown.
At its greatest extent, which is roughly along a north-south axis, the lake is 42 kilometres long. Its widest point, at the southern end, is 10 kilometres. The lake stands 282m above sea level and is probably more than 300m deep in places. The lake’s western shore is lined with high peaks rising to over 2000m above sea level – travel a bit further in land and the peaks rise up to over 3000m. Along the eastern shore the land is also mountainous, but the peaks are somewhat lower and the drier climate leads to a complete different character of mountain.
Wanaka lies in a u-shaped valley formed by glacial erosion during the last ice age, more than 10,000 years ago. It is fed by the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers, and is the source of the Clutha River. Numerous small islands (notably Ruby Island, Stevensons Island and Harwich Island) are to be found at the southern end of the lake, with some now serving as ecological sanctuaries. The only flat land around the lake is also to be found here, surrounding the outflow into the Clutha River.