Chapter 3 – “Kaikoura”
For this edition it was time to throw away the GODZone rule book employed for course design of the first two Chapters. No finish in Queenstown, no linear route, and no overnight camp before kick off as teams were to start and finish in the beautiful seaside town of Kaikoura. Some things remained the same, however, as the teams were treated to a feast of sensational landscapes, great paddling, challenging navigation and some very friendly weather (which followed a big snow storm a couple of days before the event start).
Kaikoura was our first choice of venue when we moved away from Queenstown as we knew it possessed the ideal qualities for hosting a fantastic adventure race. The mountains are deceptively large in this part of New Zealand and they are nestled tight up against the coast which makes for a great contrast from beach to mountain top. The Hurunui River provided the platform for an epic paddle from mountains to sea with many teams camping out on the side of the river for a night they won’t forget. The welcome we got from Kaikoura was a testament to the fine people who live in the area and we would love to go back one day and do some more exploring. Definitely a fantastic location for another Chapter of GODZone.
The Kaikoura edition of GODZone sold out 7 months before the start. The full quota of 40 teams were taken but the organisation opted to make room for the Merrell Alpha Pack team who were bringing a significant filming presence to the event (you can watch their exploits during the race by clicking here). So, forty one teams graced the start line, with 10 countries represented – Australia, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and the US.
The Australian teams were once again out in force, eager to take experience the uniquely challenging prospect of racing in New Zealand. However, it was the home nation that produced the major surge in teams from the previous Chapter, excited about the course possibilities in Kaikoura, together with renewed growth in the sport over the past 3 years. The New Zealand-based teams were to set a very high benchmark for the internationals when it came to coping with the technically and physically demanding course.
|Team Name||Team Captain||Team Member 2||Team Member 3||Team Member 4||Final Result|
|1.||Seagate||Nathan Fa’avae||Sophie Hart||Chris Forne||Stuart Lynch||Full Course|
|2.||CheckpointZero-AvantiPlus||Paul Humphreys||Peter Jolles||Scott Erlandson||Michelle Hobson||Full Course|
|3.||Back Country||Jane Matchett||Michael Sandri||Kevin Kirkman||Kris Mayen||Unranked|
|4.||The Epics||Dean Ford||Paul Bird||Isla Smith||John Yu||Full Course|
|5.||Team Bivouac INOV-8||Ryan Thompson||Becky Law||JJ Wilson||Mark Thrupp||Full Course|
|6.||Rubicon||David Barlow||Dean Grasselli||Christine Keeling||Richard Bramley||Retired|
|7.||Traces of Nuts||Luke Nuttall||Melissa Cocks||Nathan Hay||Paul Olsen||Full Course|
|8.||Action Sunday||Richard Dove||Jacqui Gee||Aaron Agnew||Toby Nielson||Short Course|
|9.||Sheep Eaters||Robin Simpson||Janet Musker||Jason Wallington||Joel Tate||Unranked|
|10.||Kauri Coasters||Barry Ruddell||Alan Kirkpatrick||Anyika Thomsen||Graeme Ewenson||Full Course|
|11.||Go 3.0||Rhys John||Tim Sikma||Matt Scott||Emily Wall||Full Course|
|12.||Heartland RICOH||Tony Watson||Ian Walsh||Sam Wright||Robert Jarvis||Unranked|
|13.||Its All Good||Kevin Humphrey||Francesca Sanders||Michael Rait||Kath Copland||Short Course|
|14.||Moxie AR||Chris Caulfield||Brian Keogh||Padraig Flanagan||Sabrina Verjee||Retired|
|15.||Team Osprey Packs||Nathan Jones||David Slater||Tane Cambridge||Amy Horn||Full Course|
|16.||Lost & Lonely||Ian Huntsman||Wendy Riach||Neil Gillespie||Joe Jagusch||Full Course|
|17.||Taranaki Hardcore 225||Craig Cook||John Wilmshurst||Alison Russell||Grant Hildred||Unranked|
|18.||Team Girls on Top||Debbie Chambers||Anne Lowerson||Isak Meyer||Mary McBride||Full Course|
|19.||Team University of Auckland||Toni Keeling||Tom Reynolds||Ed Lawly||Matthew Jeans||Full Course|
|20.||Pat Farry Trust Rural Medicine||Rachel Lynskey||Gary Nixon||Mark Smith||Jeremy Webber||Full Course|
|21.||R & R Sport Torpedo 7||Richard Anderson||Simon Bowden||Joanna Williams||Bob McLachlan||Full Course|
|22.||Goldilocks and the 3 Beers||AJ Milward||Nick Lowe||Mark Hearfield||Dave Dellabarca||Short Course|
|23.||Orion Health||Wayne Oxenham||Carl Bevins||Tom Lucas||Fleur Pawsey||Full Course|
|24.||Proactive Physio||Brent Herdson||Marty Macdonald||Di Liddell||Karl Johnstone||Full Course|
|25.||Vida de Aventura||Sia Svendsen||Brent Edwards||Charlie Murray||Mark Rayward||Full Course|
|26.||Beaufort 9||Louise Mark||Aiden Boswell||Emma McCosh||Grant Burke||Full Course|
|27.||Next Generation||Tim Farrant||Emily Wilson||Alistair McDowell||Elisha Nuttall||Full Course|
|28.||Rogue||Liam St Pierre||Russell Stringer||Danielle Gage||Steve Gage||Short Course|
|29.||B Com Agers||Denis Woods||Richard Shields||Richard McIntosh||Sarah Kennedy||Short Course|
|30.||NCX||Huw John||Natasha Trovato||Stephen John||Paul Tonycliffe||Unranked|
|31.||Absolute Wilderness NZ||Dan Moore||Dan Busch||Naomi Whitehead||Jeremy McKenzie||Full Course|
|32.||Mobilyser Openwire||Andre Morkel||Robbie Adams||Grant Pepper||Rachel Cashin||Unranked|
|33.||Fully Rad to the Power of Sick||Irene Hunt||David Hunt||Peter Fitzgerald||Douglas Peres||Unranked|
|34.||Bear Hunt||Charlotte Peterson||Michael McClusky||Mark Van Der Ploeg||Minh-Tam Nguyen||Short Course|
|35.||Chimpanzee Bar||Jim Cotter||Lara Prince||Petr Sykora||Milan Brodina||Full Course|
|36.||Stromlonauts||Clare Lonergan||Kieran Macdonell||Craig Cowan||Lee Rice||Short Course|
|37.||BMX Bandits||Ben Cirulis||Rachelle Koster||Dave Ellis||Roham Kilham||Full Course|
|38.||Aotearoa Eel Conservation Soc||Glen Warner||Heather Kirkham||Daniel Pringle||Jo Holden||Short Course|
|39.||Hill Billys||Geoff Spark||Andrea Peebles||Paul Spark||Scott Henry||Short Course|
|40.||Kathmandu XT||Duncan Hamilton||Kate Callaghan||George Christensen||Neil Jones||Full Course|
|41.||Merrell Alpha Pack||Graham Bird||Tobias Mews||Catalina Gerstle||Ben Gibson||Unranked|
The GODZone team strongly believe in showcasing the very best of what New Zealand has to offer those looking for real adventure. Kaikoura provided a unique challenge with huge mountains juxtaposing a stunning, wildlife rich, coastline. Teams started by coasteering and sea kayaking around the Kaikoura Peninsula. Wilderness beckoned after this with a tough bike section through Puhi Peaks to Waiautoa. Day two and three was the mouth-watering prospect of climbing Mt Tapaeu-o-Uenuku, towering above the Clarence River at a shade under 10,000ft (2885m) – though the CP on the summit had to be moved slightly down to the col because of snow and ice.
An iconic bike ride through the Molesworth Road led to the Glynn Wye trek which many teams expressed to be their most enjoyable and navigationally challenging. The biggest river adventure yet in a GODZone followed with a 101km paddle down the Hurunui River, taking in Grade 3+ rapids along the way, and teams camping overnight along the banks of the beautiful river. The last 4 sections of the race headed north along the stunning Kaikoura coastline with navigation increasingly difficult – with tired minds and bodies making simple mistakes, leaderboard changes were common place. A final sea kayak into Kaikoura saw the teams complete a monumental challenge that tested them to the mental and physical limits.
The route covered a total distance of 520km, which included approximately 9km of coasteering, 114km of trekking, 267km of biking, 101km of canoeing and 38km of kayaking. Total elevation gain for those on the full course was approximately 11,800m – which is a lot.
START – Teams were given their maps at 6am on Saturday morning where they had a few hours to work out their favoured route plans before amassing in the Garden of Memories which overlooks the beach in Kaikoura.
STAGE 1 – Coasteering around the Kaikoura Peninsula with a short sea swim to collect a CP. Plenty of seals in attendance
STAGE 2 – Sea kayak around the Kaikoura Bay. There was a reasonable swell in attendance which gave some teams issues and there was a number of spectacular entries and exits for the watching crowds (and a few broken rudders)
STAGE 3 – A relatively short mountain bike in expedition racing terms but with a devilish bit of navigation and route choice in the middle which caught out a number of teams, one of which spent almost 24hrs to move about 2.5km
STAGE 4 – The high mountain trek over the highest mountain in New Zealand outside of the Southern Alps – Mt Tapuae o Uenuku. Crossing the George Saddle, Clarence River, with snow and ice in the mix, this stage was a brute but left many of the overseas teams gobsmacked at the raw beauty of New Zealand and with a real sense of achievement
STAGE 5 – A long cycle through the stunningly beautiful Molesworth. Teams enjoyed a brief visit to Hanmer Springs on the way through and we are told that many local cafes enjoyed a bumper couple of days with hungry teams loading up
STAGE 6 – What looked like an unassuming mountain trek on paper turned out to be the jewel in the crown for many teams. No CP’s, just total freedom to take the route of their choice – and there were plenty of those with teams splitting far and wide. The ridge lines were challenging with nerves frayed at times but the sunrise and sunset enjoyed by many teams will live with them forever
STAGE 7 – A stunning 101km river paddle from the mountains to sea along the beautiful Hurunui River enjoying relentless white water in the top section. Maori Gully and Hawarden Gap were the places that raised the pulses most with Grade 3+ water keeping teams focused (with a number of swims too)
STAGE 8 – Short bike ride along the coast through the lovely seaside settlement of Gore Bay
STAGE 9 – A tough coastal trek navigation-wise, using an area that has previously hosted the World Rogainning Championships. The stage included a swim across the Waiau River and the beautiful cliffs of the Kaikoura Coast Track
STAGE 10 – Another testing mountain bike ride taking teams over Spyglass Point
STAGE 11 – The final sea kayak stage took teams back to the beach in Kaikoura. Many enjoyed the company of a huge pod of dolphins which topped off a sensational journey around one of the most scenic areas of New Zealand
The 2014 edition of GODZone, Chapter 3 – Kaikoura, was won by team Seagate, which comprised Nathan Fa’avae, Chris Forne, Sophie Hart and recently crowned World Champion, Stuart Lynch. They completed the course in a staggering 3 days, 17 hours and 26 minutes. Another stellar performance made it three wins out of three and few would bet against them next year.
Behind Seagate the mother of all battles played out and those glued to Live Coverage enjoyed the most exciting racing that we have ever seen at GODZone. After 3 full days of racing the next 5 teams were locked in a navigational battle which saw places lost and won. R&R Sport Torpedo 7 made a decisive break on the Glynn Wye Trek with a great route choice. Absolute Wilderness NZ suffered canoe issues on the river but paddled like demons to get themselves back into contention. Vida de Aventura continued to excel, a team which included a very young 18 year old Charlie Murray. In the end, critical navigation choices saw R&R Torpedo 7 clinch second place by just 22 minutes, with third placed Absolute Wilderness NZ clinching the final spot on the podium with a blistering transition and final sea kayak (a further 28 minutes back).
Vida de Aventura, Kathmandu XT and Chimpanzee Bar took the next 3 places. Those placed between 2nd and 6th position at GODZone were separated by less than 5 hours, which is incredibly close over such a long race and we can’t remember any international race being so close. This is a great testament to the strength and consistency of the teams at the top level in New Zealand. As predicted by the Race Director (and scoffed at by some of the younger teams), it was the ‘seasoned’ or older competitors who prospered at the front of the field proving that fitness, speed and most importantly, experience, are a potent blend when mixed together in the right quantities.
GODZone is keen to promote emerging youth teams on their journey into this demanding sport. The younger teams compete for the Colt Trophy (as well as the overall title) and this year it was team Next Generation who came out on top, finishing an extremely credible 8th place overall – the best result for any young team so far at a GODZone. They used good tactics, navigated exceptionally well and looked to be working as a fantastic team throughout the 5 days it took them to finish. We think they’ll continue to strengthen going forward and may well be major players in the sport in a few years time. Bravo to them and everyone else who took on this epic event.
The Top Five
|Team Name||Team Captain||Team Member 2||Team Member 3||Team Member 4||Finish Time|
|1.||Seagate||Nathan Fa’avae||Sophie Hart||Chris Forne||Stuart Lynch||3Days 17Hrs 36Mins|
|2.||R & R Sport Torpedo 7||Richard Anderson||Simon Bowden||Joanna Williams||Bob McLachlan||4Days 5Hrs 56Mins|
|3.||Absolute Wilderness NZ||Dan Moore||Dan Busch||Naomi Whitehead||Jeremy McKenzie||4Days 6Hrs 18Mins|
|4.||Vida de Aventura||Sia Svendsen||Brent Edwards||Charlie Murray||Mark Rayward||4Days 6Hrs 46Mins|
|5.||Kathmandu XT||Duncan Hamilton||Kate Callaghan||George Christensen||Neil Jones||4Days 8Hrs 29Mins|