Chapter 1 – “Milford”

As an iconic location to begin your first event you would be hard pushed to find a place that could compare with Milford Sound. Starting at the rugged west coast of the South Island, teams embarked on an adventure of a lifetime from this most spectacular of places. The route headed southeast through Fiordland and into Southland, before swinging back north again to take in the high mountains that surround the giant Lake Wakatipu.

The great lake provided the final push to the finish, taking teams to a memorable conclusion on the beach in Queenstown. The route was linear by nature and was set out to feel like a journey from end to end. As the teams sat on the cruise boat out to the start under a moonlit sky, the sense of doing something special was palpable.

Images and video from Chapter 1 can be found in the Images and Videos sections. 

The Teams

Thirty one teams from all over the world made it to the start line, with 12 countries represented – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, UK – with approximately 35% of the participants overseas nationals. The spread of experience was noticeable with perhaps the worlds best team, Seagate, in attendance along side a number of teams who had not competed in an expedition length race before. The age of the competitors varied, testament to the attraction of this type of event for all ages. We were delighted to welcome back some ‘veteran’ teams and at the same time introduce the new generation of ‘colt’ team to this most challenging sport, who were competing for the Colt Trophy.

Team Name Team Captain Team Member 2 Team Member 3 Team Member 4 Final Result
1. Baba Orientation Belgian Daniel Masy Belgian Eric Neuteleers Belgian Carine Laloy Belgian Pierre Collin Unranked
2. Stunts New Zealand Mark Wallace New Zealand Katherine Allan New Zealand Graham Patterson New Zealand Louise Hales Short Course
3. Kauri Coasters New Zealand Thorlene Egerton New Zealand Ross Friedrich New Zealand Alan Kirkpatrick New Zealand Barry Ruddell Short Course
4. Get No Sleep AR New Zealand Ian Huntsman New Zealand Wendy Riach Ireland Finbar McGurren Ireland Karen Duggan Short Course
5. Hard Yuccas Australian Andrew Johnson Australian Sally Macready Australian Lisa Antill Australian Joel Deans Short Course
6. Hundreds Killed New Zealand Mark Hearfield New Zealand Nick Lowe New Zealand Robert Smith New Zealand Keri Devine Short Course
7. Asses Ears Bites Back Australian Brendan Hills Australian Mary McBride Australian Doug Ivey Australian LLoyd Neilson Short Course
8. Little Red Dot Singaporean Tan Yung Khan Malaysian Jason Boon Hong Kong Wong Ho Fai Singaporean Lee Chuen Ling Unranked
9. Kia Kaha New Zealand David Viitakangas Canadian Tim Gibbs Swedish Hanna Erixson Dutch Lukas Petow Short Course
10. Orion Health Adventure New Zealand Wayne Oxenham New Zealand Lisa Godfrey New Zealand Sarah Clark New Zealand Sonya Clark Full Course
11. Proactive Physio New Zealand Marty Macdonald New Zealand Bernard Robinson New Zealand Brent Herdson New Zealand Toni Keeling Short Course
12. R&R Sport New Zealand Jess Simson New Zealand Mat Woods New Zealand Hadyn Key New Zealand Bas Smith Full Course
13. Rogue Samurai by Macpac Australian Liam St Pierre Australian Craig Edwards Australian Darren Smith Canadian Debbie Harksen Retired
14. Shakespeare & Co New Zealand Rosie Shakespeare New Zealand Tamsin Chittock New Zealand Ian Walsh New Zealand Tony Watson Short Course
15. Seagate New Zealand Nathan Fa’avae New Zealand Sophie Hart New Zealand Chris Forne New Zealand Trevor Voyce Full Course
16. House of Travel/Starship New Zealand Ben Meyer New Zealand Huriana Manuel New Zealand David Gibson New Zealand Robert Nichol Unranked
17. Subway New Zealand Richard Ussher Finland Elina Ussher New Zealand Braden Currie New Zealand Sam Clark Retired
18. Swordfox  New Zealand Nick Ross New Zealand Shane Armstrong New Zealand Joanna Turnbull New Zealand Angus Jennings Full Course
19. Moa Hunters New Zealand Jeremy Warnock New Zealand Simone Maier New Zealand Ailsa Rollinson New Zealand Richard Anderson Full Course
20. Team 215 New Zealand Emma de Lacey New Zealand Guy de Lacey New Zealand Stephen John New Zealand Mike Charles Short Course
21. Team Bivouac Colts New Zealand Ryan Thompson New Zealand JJ Wilson New Zealand Bex Law New Zealand Dayne Mc Knight Full Course
22. Team Macpac Girls on Top New Zealand Debbie Chambers Australian Anne Lowerson New Zealand Jo Forbes New Zealand Craig Stevens Short Course
23. Team Mazda New Zealand Josh Harris New Zealand Emily Wilson New Zealand Hamish Fleming New Zealand William Sams Short Course
24. Team Mountain Designs Australian Kim Beckinsale Australian Gary Sutherland Australian Robbie Andrews Australian Dave Schloss Retired
25. Team Osprey Packs New Zealand Blair MacKinnon New Zealand Steven MacLeod New Zealand Andy Reid New Zealand Alison Scarlet Short Course
26. Team PB Sports DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS
27. Team One Square Meal Denmark Sia Svendsen New Zealand Ian Edmond New Zealand Stuart Lynch New Zealand Ross Rotherham Full Course
28. Australian Rob Preston Australian Kathryn Preston Australian Josh Street Australian Glen Currie Full Course
29. The Go Team New Zealand Tim Farrant New Zealand Robert Munro New Zealand Emily Wall New Zealand Elisha Nuttall Short Course
30. Tiki Tour New Zealand Tom Lucas Ireland Mike Kelly New Zealand Michael Walker Ireland Joanna Williams Full Course
31. The Able Tasmans New Zealand Craig Newton New Zealand Aidan Boswell New Zealand Steve Lock New Zealand Emma Mccosh Short Course
32. You’ve Been Chicked DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS
33. City Bike Depot Australia Hugh Stodart New Zealand Rich Mountstephens Australian Danielle Winslow Australian Seamus Meikle Full Course

The Route

A breathtaking journey through some of New Zealand’s most pristine wilderness. Once out of Milford Sound, teams didn’t see much civilisation until they arrived into Glenorchy which was the final stage of the event. A true adventure in some very remote parts of the South Island. The route covered a total distance of approximately 500km, which included 126km of trekking, 279km of biking, 61km of kayaking and 36km of canoeing. The west to east character of the route allowed the teams to experience a wide variety of environments, including – rain forest, alpine forest, high country tussock, beech forest, grasslands, high alpine mountains and glacial valleys, rivers and lakes.

This was a tough introduction for those teams who had not adventure raced in New Zealand before or for those domestic teams who had not yet experienced an expedition length race at home. The navigation was tough, nights were cold, and many underestimated the preparation needed to prosper in this part of the world. It was a tough lesson, well learned, and many teams have come back to subsequent GODZone’s as far better racers because of the difficulty posed by sections of this Chapter.

Route Map - Milford

START – After camping out for the night, teams took a moonlit cruise ship out into Milford Sound where they were dropped by tender craft at a small beach. Here they made ready for a daybreak paddle back through Milford Sound

STAGE 1 – A sea kayak through the spectacular and iconic Milford Sound back to Deepwater Basin passing through the narrow confines of this amazing World Heritage site accompanied, of course, by the GODZone dolphins who seem to follow us where they can

STAGE 2 – Road bike along the scenic Milford Road taking in the Homer Tunnel, New Zealand’s second longest, over The Divide and into the Eglington Valley

STAGE 3 – River canoe along the Eglinton River that flows from The Divide down to Lake Te Anau. The river was running at historically low levels which made for slow going in certain sections and teams ran well behind expected times

STAGE 4 – Bush trek through native beach forests. A very challenging stage from a navigational stand point and location of the infamous “CP5” which will probably be talked about by team navigators in later years. A very honest introduction to the requirements of finding your way in Kiwi bush at night

STAGE 5 – Mountain bike along the Oreti River and across a number of other catchments before arriving at the Irthing stream. This route demanded good route finding skills with the intermittent nature of the track

STAGE 6 – Mountain trek over the vast expanse of the Eyre Mountains. Very few checkpoints and multiple route options, this was to prove a tough stage for the teams aiming to beat the cut off for the short course

STAGE 7 – The paddle on Mavora Lakes was removed from the course

STAGE 8 – Mountain bike over the Thomson Mountains and along the western edge of Lake Wakatipu that would ultimately lead the teams to the foot of Mt Earnslaw which towers over the northern end of Lake Wakatipu

STAGE 9 – Alpine trek and fixed ropes that led teams over Turret Head, to the base of the waterfall feeding the Earnslaw Burn and then over Lennox Pass. All the while circling around the breathtaking 2830m summit of Mount  Earnslaw with hanging glaciers and cascading water as a backdrop to all checkpoints

STAGE 10 – Mountain bike out of the Rees Valley towards the first sign of life for some days in Glenorchy

STAGE 11 – Lake kayak back home to Queenstown taking in the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Most teams enjoyed wonderful surfing conditions for the full 46km which made for some very quick paddle times


SeagateThe 2012 edition of GODZone, Chapter 1 – Milford, was won by team Seagate, which comprised Trevor Voyce, Chris Forne, Nathan Fa’avae, and Sophie Hart.

For the first three stages on Day 1, Seagate raced neck and neck with the Subway team, with Subway pulling away to a 10 minute advantage by the end of the Eglinton canoe. It was during the night trek through the Dunton Range on Stage 4 where Seagate made their move, having previously identified CP5 (a checkpoint that proved to be highly challenging for all teams – taking one team 19hrs to locate it) as the place to attack. Spotting an opportunity as Subway stopped momentarily, Seagate charged off into the night, never to be seen again.
Their time (still nearly 18hrs) over this challenging stage was a lot quicker than any of their rivals and perhaps most importantly, allowed them to complete the tricky navigation of the following stage (Stage 5) in the daylight. On the mountain bikes they managed to put a further 4hrs of time between them and the next best team, testament to their navigation skills, route finding ability and strength on a tough ride. After that, they identified the long mountain trek of Stage 6 as their main obstacle to winning due to the myriad of route choices. They took an aggressive line through Slate Basin (an area which thwarted other teams who attempted it in darkness) towards CP19 and once at the Transition Area, felt that victory was in their grasp.

Seagate completed the remaining sections with their trademark fluency and surfed into Queenstown beach just after 9pm on Thursday evening – just a shade under 87hrs after starting GODZone (some 3 days and 15hrs later) – to a large crowd of well wishers who had been glued to their progress on the Live Coverage website. Nathan, team captain, was quick to point out the challenging terrain and technical difficulty of the course to the watching media but was glad that the race had combined a balance of testing conditions and beautiful scenery.

BivouacSecond and third place were taken by teams One Square Meal and R&R Sport respectively. Both these teams had a wealth of experience from previous expedition races and understood the importance of good navigation, route choice and pacing yourself over a course as difficult as the one posed. They were able to push hard when needed and took the better lines through the parts of the course where good route choices were necessary. Critically, they made far fewer mistakes than many of the teams behind them – this is the unwritten law in expedition racing – the team who makes the fewest mistakes, wins.

GODZone is keen to promote emerging youth teams and Chapter 1 saw an intriguing battle develop between teams Mazda and Bivouac Colts. After a difficult start, which included three capsizes in Milford Sound, Mazda pulled themselves level with Bivouac by Stage 6. Once again, route choice was a big factor in the success of a team and Bivouac, opting for the better line into CP19, were able to pull away and cement themselves as winners of the first Colts Prize. There were a number of highly impressive, young, competitors in Chapter 1 and we have a sneaky suspicion that they could be a force to be reckoned with on the international stage in the coming years.

The Top Five

Team Name Team Captain Team Member 2 Team Member 3 Team Member 4 Final Result
1. Seagate New Zealand Nathan Fa’avae New Zealand Sophie Hart New Zealand Chris Forne New Zealand Trevor Voyce 3Days 14Hrs 55Mins
2. Team One Square Meal Denmark Sia Svendsen New Zealand Ian Edmond New Zealand Stuart Lynch New Zealand Ross Rotherham 4Days 6Hrs 1Mins
3. R&R Sport New Zealand Jess Simson New Zealand Mat Woods New Zealand Hadyn Key New Zealand Bas Smith 4Days 10Hrs 25Mins
4. Australian Rob Preston Australian Kathryn Preston Australian Josh Street Australian Glen Currie 4Days 12Hrs 45Mins
5. Swordfox  New Zealand Nick Ross New Zealand Shane Armstrong New Zealand Joanna Turnbull New Zealand Angus Jennings 4Days 15Hrs 48Mins