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.

Images and video from Chapter 3 can be found in the Images and Videos sections. 

The Teams

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 New Zealand Nathan Fa’avae New Zealand Sophie Hart New Zealand Chris Forne New Zealand Stuart Lynch Full Course
2. CheckpointZero-AvantiPlus New Zealand Paul Humphreys United States Peter Jolles United States Scott Erlandson United States Michelle Hobson Full Course
3. Back Country New Zealand Jane Matchett New Zealand Michael Sandri New Zealand Kevin Kirkman New Zealand Kris Mayen Unranked
4. The Epics New Zealand Dean Ford New Zealand Paul Bird New Zealand Isla Smith New Zealand John Yu Full Course
5. Team Bivouac INOV-8 New Zealand Ryan Thompson New Zealand Becky Law New Zealand JJ Wilson New Zealand Mark Thrupp Full Course
6. Rubicon Australia David Barlow Australia Dean Grasselli New Zealand Christine Keeling New Zealand Richard Bramley Retired
7. Traces of Nuts Australia Luke Nuttall Australia Melissa Cocks New Zealand Nathan Hay New Zealand Paul Olsen Full Course
8. Action Sunday New Zealand Richard Dove New Zealand Jacqui Gee New Zealand Aaron Agnew New Zealand Toby Nielson Short Course
9. Sheep Eaters New Zealand Robin Simpson Australia Janet Musker Australia Jason Wallington Australia Joel Tate Unranked
10. Kauri Coasters New Zealand Barry Ruddell New Zealand Alan Kirkpatrick New Zealand Anyika Thomsen New Zealand Graeme Ewenson Full Course
11. Go 3.0 New Zealand Rhys John New Zealand Tim Sikma New Zealand Matt Scott New Zealand Emily Wall Full Course
12. Heartland RICOH New Zealand Tony Watson New Zealand Ian Walsh New Zealand Sam Wright New Zealand Robert Jarvis Unranked
13. Its All Good Australia Kevin Humphrey Australia Francesca Sanders New Zealand Michael Rait New Zealand Kath Copland Short Course
14. Moxie AR Ireland Chris Caulfield Ireland Brian Keogh Ireland Padraig Flanagan United Kingdom Sabrina Verjee Retired
15. Team Osprey Packs New Zealand Nathan Jones New Zealand David Slater New Zealand Tane Cambridge New Zealand Amy Horn Full Course
16. Lost & Lonely New Zealand Ian Huntsman New Zealand Wendy Riach New Zealand Neil Gillespie New Zealand Joe Jagusch Full Course
17. Taranaki Hardcore 225 New Zealand Craig Cook New Zealand John Wilmshurst New Zealand Alison Russell New Zealand Grant Hildred Unranked
18. Team Girls on Top New Zealand Debbie Chambers New Zealand Anne Lowerson New Zealand Isak Meyer New Zealand Mary McBride Full Course
19. Team University of Auckland New Zealand Toni Keeling New Zealand Tom Reynolds New Zealand Ed Lawly New Zealand Matthew Jeans Full Course
20. Pat Farry Trust Rural Medicine New Zealand Rachel Lynskey New Zealand Gary Nixon New Zealand Mark Smith New Zealand Jeremy Webber Full Course
21. R & R Sport Torpedo 7 New Zealand Richard Anderson New Zealand Simon Bowden New Zealand Joanna Williams New Zealand Bob McLachlan Full Course
22. Goldilocks and the 3 Beers New Zealand AJ Milward New Zealand Nick Lowe New Zealand Mark Hearfield New Zealand Dave Dellabarca Short Course
23. Orion Health New Zealand Wayne Oxenham New Zealand Carl Bevins New Zealand Tom Lucas New Zealand Fleur Pawsey Full Course
24. Proactive Physio New Zealand Brent Herdson New Zealand Marty Macdonald United Kingdom Di Liddell New Zealand Karl Johnstone Full Course
25. Vida de Aventura Denmark Sia Svendsen New Zealand Brent Edwards New Zealand Charlie Murray New Zealand Mark Rayward Full Course
26. Beaufort 9 New Zealand Louise Mark New Zealand Aiden Boswell New Zealand Emma McCosh New Zealand Grant Burke Full Course
27. Next Generation New Zealand Tim Farrant New Zealand Emily Wilson New Zealand Alistair McDowell New Zealand Elisha Nuttall Full Course
28. Rogue Australia Liam St Pierre Australia Russell Stringer Australia Danielle Gage Australia Steve Gage Short Course
29. B Com Agers New Zealand Denis Woods New Zealand Richard Shields New Zealand Richard McIntosh New Zealand Sarah Kennedy Short Course
30. NCX New Zealand Huw John Canada Natasha Trovato New Zealand Stephen John New Zealand Paul Tonycliffe Unranked
31. Absolute Wilderness NZ New Zealand Dan Moore New Zealand Dan Busch New Zealand Naomi Whitehead New Zealand Jeremy McKenzie Full Course
32. Mobilyser Openwire Australia Andre Morkel Australia Robbie Adams Australia Grant Pepper New Zealand Rachel Cashin Unranked
33. Fully Rad to the Power of Sick Australia Irene Hunt Australia David Hunt Australia Peter Fitzgerald Australia Douglas Peres Unranked
34. Bear Hunt Australia Charlotte Peterson Australia Michael McClusky Australia Mark Van Der Ploeg Australia Minh-Tam Nguyen Short Course
35. Chimpanzee Bar New Zealand Jim Cotter New Zealand Lara Prince Czech Republic Petr Sykora Czech Republic Milan Brodina Full Course
36. Stromlonauts Australia Clare Lonergan Australia Kieran Macdonell Australia Craig Cowan Australia Lee Rice Short Course
37. BMX Bandits Australia Ben Cirulis Australia Rachelle Koster Australia Dave Ellis Australia Roham Kilham Full Course
38. Aotearoa Eel Conservation Soc New Zealand Glen Warner New Zealand Heather Kirkham New Zealand Daniel Pringle New Zealand Jo Holden Short Course
39. Hill Billys New Zealand Geoff Spark New Zealand Andrea Peebles New Zealand Paul Spark New Zealand Scott Henry Short Course
40. Kathmandu XT New Zealand Duncan Hamilton New Zealand Kate Callaghan New Zealand George Christensen New Zealand Neil Jones Full Course
41. Merrell Alpha Pack South Africa Graham Bird United Kingdom Tobias Mews Chile Catalina Gerstle New Zealand Ben Gibson Unranked

The Route

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


Seagate win Chapter 3The 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).

Colt Winners Next GenerationVida 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 New Zealand Nathan Fa’avae New Zealand Sophie Hart New Zealand Chris Forne New Zealand Stuart Lynch 3Days 17Hrs 36Mins
2. R & R Sport Torpedo 7 New Zealand Richard Anderson New Zealand Simon Bowden New Zealand Joanna Williams New Zealand Bob McLachlan 4Days 5Hrs 56Mins
3. Absolute Wilderness NZ New Zealand Dan Moore New Zealand Dan Busch New Zealand Naomi Whitehead New Zealand Jeremy McKenzie 4Days 6Hrs 18Mins
4. Vida de Aventura Denmark Sia Svendsen New Zealand Brent Edwards New Zealand Charlie Murray New Zealand Mark Rayward 4Days 6Hrs 46Mins
5. Kathmandu XT New Zealand Duncan Hamilton New Zealand Kate Callaghan New Zealand George Christensen New Zealand Neil Jones 4Days 8Hrs 29Mins