Chapter 2 – “Mt Cook”

Mt Cook

Well, we didn’t think we could trump Milford Sound but many of the competitors think we did with a start line under Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. From here a near linear route, North to South, confronted teams which exposed them to the very best of the South Island’s rugged scenery.

From the high alpine glaciers of the Mt Cook National Park the teams raced southwards to their ultimate destination in Queesntown. The adrenaline was flowing right from the start with exposed ridges, crampons and  ice axes, a very lively Tasman River paddle and the small matter of the World’s highest cliff jump just a few km before the finish – which for some teams was a long 6 days after they started.

Images and video from Chapter 2 can be found in the Images and Videos sections.  

The Teams

Thirty four teams from all over the world made it to the start line, with 14 countries represented – Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa & the USA – with approximately 33% of the participants overseas nationals. Every level of experience was represented with the two best teams in the World – Seagate & Thule – going head to head in battle once again, along side a number of teams who had not competed in an expedition length race before. The consensus was that this was an incredibly strong  line up of teams, particularly those from New Zealand, Australia and Brazil. Those teams who had previously competed at GODZone had ‘upped’ their game this time around as they now understood the unique demands of racing in the Ultimate Adventure Racing location.

The age of the competitors varied, testament to the attraction of this type of event for all ages. We were delighted to welcome back Jim Cotter and Neil Jones who are legends of the sport and at the same time watch them go up against the new generation of ‘colt’ teams that are improving all the time with experience.

Team Name Team Captain Team Member 2 Team Member 3 Team Member 4 Final Result
1. Harraways Oats New Zealand Jess Simson New Zealand Aaron Prince New Zealand Stu Lynch New Zealand Dougal Allan Full Course
2. 3 Bald Eagles 1 Fit Kiwi Dan Abel New Zealand Sarah Bryant Joe Haver Tom Thomas Retired
3. Rab/Arrowfield Apartments New Zealand Mark Wallace New Zealand Allister Adams New Zealand Katherine Allan New Zealand Gray Patterson Full Course
4. AXA-adidas swedish DNS DNS New Zealand DNS swedish DNS DNS
5. Bivouac Colts New Zealand Ryan Thompson New Zealand Dayne McKnight New Zealand Bex Law New Zealand JJ Wilson Full Course
6. Brasilia Multisport Team Camila Nicolau Guilherme Pahl New Zealand Bernard Robinson Sam Clark Full Course
7. Bridgedale Socks New Zealand Colin Slater New Zealand Dave Rudge New Zealand Mary Mcbride New Zealand Jerome Sheppard Retired
8. Due South New Zealand Hugh Tait New Zealand David Burnett New Zealand Chris Stewart New Zealand Amie Manning Short Course
9. Sheep Eaters Australian Janet Musker Australian Joel Tate New Zealand Tim Sikma Australian Grant Pepper Full Course
10. Complete Performance Peter Hall New Zealand Richard Dove New Zealand Rosie Shakespeare New Zealand Simon Lewis Short Course
11. The Go Team New Zealand Rhys John New Zealand Tim Farrant New Zealand Hadleigh Miles New Zealand Emily Wall Full Course
12. Heartland Ricoh New Zealand Tony Watson New Zealand Ian Walsh New Zealand Tamsin Chittock New Zealand Mike Robins Full Course
13. It’s All Good Australian Kevin Humphrey Australian Kath Copland Australian Brett Sparkes Australian Sharon Dilly Retired
14. Kauri Coasters New Zealand Barry Ruddell New Zealand Graeme Ewanson New Zealand Anyika Thomsen New Zealand Alan Kirkpatrick Full Course
15. Konica Minolta New Zealand Josh Harris New Zealand Sam Manson New Zealand Naomi Whitehead New Zealand Rob Lord Full Course
16. Lost & Lonely New Zealand Ian Huntsman New Zealand Wendy Riach New Zealand John Henson New Zealand Brent Herdson Full Course
17. Macpac Australian Rob Preston Australian Kathryn Preston Australian Damon Goerke New Zealand Brent Edwards Full Course
18. Macpac Girls on Top New Zealand Debbie Chambers Australian Anne Lowerson New Zealand Jill Westenra Sakkie Meyer Full Course
19. Magellan Adventure New Zealand Tom Lucas Ireland Jo Williams Ireland Mike Kelly New Zealand Mike Walker Full Course
20. Midnight Sun Australian David Kricker Emily Cambier Australian Justin Jarvis Australian Duncan Stodart Short Course
21. Moa Hunters New Zealand Richard Anderson New Zealand Simon Bowden New Zealand Bob McLachlan Floortje Draisma Full Course
22. Night’n Day New Zealand Jane Matchett New Zealand Michael Lawrence New Zealand Neil Burrow New Zealand Scott Dunavan Unranked
23. Orion Health New Zealand Wayne Oxenham New Zealand Lisa Bates New Zealand Jim Hawkridge New Zealand Glen Currie Full Course
24. Outer Edge Australian Rohan Kilham Australian Sean King Australian Andrew Renwick Singpaporean Tsalina Yi-Lin Phang Full Course
25. PAKn’SAVE New Zealand Jim Cotter Sia Svenson Petr Sykora Milan Brodina Full Course
26. AWS Legal New Zealand Greig Hamilton New Zealand Robert Jarvis New Zealand Louise Mark New Zealand Seamus Meikle Full Course
27. Placemakers Queenstown Lucas Fornes Australian Sam Wright Di Liddell Gary Erving Retired
28. Rogue Australian Liam St Pierre Australian Leo Theoharris Australian Rebecca Wilson Australian Ray Deetlefs Full Course
29. Seagate New Zealand Nathan Fa’avae New Zealand Sophie Hart New Zealand Chris Forne New Zealand Trevor Voyce Full Course
30. NCX New Zealand Stephen John New Zealand Paul Toneycliffe Canadian Natasha Trovato New Zealand Huw John Retired
31. Swordfox New Zealand Nick Ross New Zealand Shane Armstrong New Zealand Fleur Pawsey New Zealand Ashley Whitehead Full Course
32. The Knowledge Institute New Zealand William Sams New Zealand Hamish Fleming New Zealand Elisha Nuttall New Zealand Emily Wilson Retired
33. Thule Adventure Team Jacky Boisset Myriam Guillot New Zealand Marcel Hagener New Zealand Jacob Roberts Retired
34. Vitalliance Pierre Francis Christine Rossignol Thomas Duchamp Amir Reza-Tofighi Retired
35. Whakatane-NZ New Zealand Neil Jones New Zealand Austin Oliver New Zealand Gordon Townsend New Zealand Shona Steel Retired

The Route

If ever an adventure race was a ‘journey’ this was it. The route plunged north to south in a broadly straight line with twists and turns to keep everyone watching from the outside on the edge of their seats. The route started with technical challenges in the form of glaciers and cold, turbulent, white water. The middle part of the race was defined by the big route choices of the Dingle Burn stage. The final challenge was the tricky navigation of the last 2 stages, purposely positioned to catch out those teams suffering from severe sleep deprivation. It’s a course we’ll struggle to better since it had everything a race like this needs (and the weather gods were smiling on us) but we will be trying, rest assured.

The route covered a total distance of 513km, which included approximately 119km of trekking, 267km of biking, 37km of canoeing and 90km of kayaking. The consensus was that this was a slightly easier course than Chapter 1. Maybe. The hot weather brought about it’s own challenges but overall the terrain, whilst more technical in places, was quite open and even though teams got lost (sometimes for long periods) the impact was not so severe as at the Milford event.

However, the teams, on the whole, were far better prepared this time around, had fully understood the  importance of excellent navigation after the first Chapter and many had set themselves the more realistic goal of just conquering the course ahead of them, rather than worry about placing.

Route Map

START – Teams started at the Sir Edmund Hillary Memorial at The Hermitage Hotel, Mt Cook National Park. Start time was 6am so that teams would reach the first ridge line at daybreak.

STAGE 1 – Alpine Mountaineering using fixed lines, crampons and ice axes to climb to the Annette Plateau and round to the glacial lake at the head of the Tasman River (icebergs on show for all)

STAGE 2 – White water canoe down the grade II & III rapids of the Tasman River and then a short paddle along the stunningly blue Lake Pukaki to Braemar Station

STAGE 3 – A long and fast mountain bike section which travelled the newly opened Alps to Ocean cycle route before turning off into the magical spires of the Clay Cliffs at Omarama and then up the Ahuriri Valley

STAGE 4 – The high mountain trek over the Dingle Burn area offered incredible route choice possibilities with the top 8 teams selecting 5 different routes on their journey across this stunning area which culminated in the Lindis Valley

STAGE 5 – A steep climb by mountain bike and an amazing descent took teams across the Grandview Area and Lindis Valley to the top of the Hawea River and ultimately the confluence with the Clutha River

STAGE 6 – A superb 90km paddle down one of the highest volume rivers in the world, the mighty Clutha River. Lots of fun grade 2 rapids along it’s length and then a sleep inducing kayak along the calm waters of Lake Dunstan to finish

STAGE 7 – The Pisa Range is a giant range of hills with a relatively flat but intricate system of tors and small river valleys on it’s summit plateau. It was the perfect place for some very tough navigation just at the point when teams were tired and under pressure from rival teams. The Live Coverage and Tracking kept us amused as we watched the teams struggle in the dark

STAGE 8 – What better way to finish than a beautiful bike ride with a net downhill of 1200m? The route included a few challenging climbs and some epic descents before culminating at the Shotover Canyon Swing – the World’s Highest. Teams had enjoyed a few days to consider how they would deal with this mental challenge but most did it with great spirit (and a few screams and the odd obscenity directed at the event organisers)

FINISH – Teams finished at Event HQ in Queenstown which was delightfully hosted for the entire duration of the event by Pinewood Lodge (thanks guys for everything – we’ll be back)


Seagate Win AgainThe 2013 edition of GODZone, Chapter 2 – Mt Cook, was won by team Seagate, which comprised Trevor Voyce, Chris Forne, Nathan Fa’avae, and Sophie Hart who once again put in another inspiring and devastating performance.

Seagate were always going to be the team to beat but many predicted that Thule and the newly formed (though highly experienced) Harraways Oats would run them close. It quickly became apparent in the early stages that Thule were suffering some ‘personnel’ issues and also finding the tough New Zealand navigation to be outside of their comfort zone. Early on Day 2 they found themselves in the wrong place in a tricky part of the Dingle Burn and elected to quit when they were lying in 5th position and  quickly being caught by other teams.

Harraways Oats, comprising highly experienced racers Stu Lynch and Aaron Prince, together with young hot shots, Jess Simson and Dougal Allan always looked like they would run Seagate close. They had strength in depth, experience and great navigation skills. The gap of around 3hrs at the finish was a lot closer than the second placed team last year and our calculations and time splits show that most of the time lost to Seagate was in transition – not that surprising for a team that came together relatively quickly. It was a fantastic performance.

Harraways OatsThird place were taken by Australian-based team, Macpac, who raced in their own words ‘as well as they could have done’. Rob, the team captain, had admitted that they were slightly under-prepared and a bit taken aback by the difficulty of racing in New Zealand in their first year at Milford Sound. This time around they raced smartly and made few mistakes which gave them a well-earned place on the podium.

GODZone was invited by New Zealand Multisport to host the National Adventure Racing championships which was only open to all Kiwi teams. Seagate took top honours alongside, Harraways and Swordfox (who improved their overall leaderboard position this year from an impressive 5th at Milford to 4th).

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 once again it was Bivouac, who triumphed last year, who came through with a fantastic performance. They were crowned well deserved winners and finished well inside the top 10 overall – a fantastic achievement given the quality of the field.

The Top Five

Team Name Team Captain Team Member 2 Team Member 3 Team Member 4 Team Member 4
1. Seagate New Zealand Nathan Fa’avae New Zealand Sophie Hart New Zealand Chris Forne New Zealand Trevor Voyce 3Days 3Hrs 35Mins
2. Harraways Oats New Zealand Jess Simson New Zealand Aaron Prince New Zealand Stu Lynch New Zealand Dougal Allan 3Days 6Hrs 28Mins
3. Macpac Australian Rob Preston Australian Kathryn Preston Australian Damon Goerke New Zealand Brent Edwards 3Days 14Hrs 44Mins
4. Swordfox New Zealand Nick Ross New Zealand Shane Armstrong New Zealand Fleur Pawsey New Zealand Ashley Whitehead 3Days 20Hrs 49Mins
5. Magellan Adventure New Zealand Tom Lucas Ireland Jo Williams Ireland Mike Kelly New Zealand Mike Walker 4Days 3Hrs 1Mins