Chapter 4 – “Wanaka”

On the southern end of Lake Wanaka, situated in a dramatic glacial carved basin, is the stunning resort town of Wanaka with an active, friendly atmosphere. The World’s First Protected Lifestyle Reserve, it’s a spectacular natural playground and if you are into the outdoors, there is no better place to visit or to host a Chapter of GODZone.

Wanaka hosts some of New Zealand’s best events and was the finish location for Eco Challenge back in 2001. With the course options available, history and community love of sport, it was always going to be a popular Chapter and this was reflected in the fact that the event sold out 48hrs after entries opened. Chapter 4 was very much about a return to the big mountains, with teams exposed to the elements at high altitudes for long periods of time. This coupled with some challenging weather conditions conspired to make this possibly the hardest GODZone to date. Nearly every team reflected on the intensity of the terrain and World Number 1 ranked team, Columbia Vidaraid, stated that the Chapter was much harder than any World Championships they had done. Any team who gave Chapter 4 a go can be immensely proud of their achievements – it truly was an Adventure Like No Other.

Images and video from Chapter 4 can be found in the Images and Videos sections.  

The Teams

Fifty five teams entered Chapter 4 with 52 making it to the start line at the foot of the Fantail Falls below Mt Brewster. In total, 14 countries were represented – Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand , South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom & the USA – showing the appeal of New Zealand’s South Island as the World’s leading adventure racing location. There was a particularly strong showing from New Zealand teams who were well aware of how quick entries would sell out. Every level of experience was represented with the two best teams in the World – Seagate & Columbia Vidaraid – 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 once again an incredibly strong line up of teams with many of the younger generation teams keen to make their mark on GODZone. For the first time ever in an expedition adventure race we had a family team made up of mother, father and two sons – the Murray family from Wanaka – who performed amazingly well given that Charlie and Craig were just 19 and 16 years old respectively. We also had a New Zealand Rugby Players Association-backed team racing for our chosen recipient charity, Cure Kids. This included NZRPA CEO Rob Nichol, Auckland Blue player Ben Meyer, the highly experienced adventure racer Sia Svensen and former All Black Ian Jones.

People have asked what it is that makes adventure racing in New Zealand so special. The history, the amazing terrain and the quality of the competitors are the stand out features. Why so many quality competitors? You only have to look at the age profile at GODZone to understand why. Almost every other adventure race in the world is dominated by 30-50 somethings. It is rare to find anyone in their early 20’s (let alone teens) competing at an expedition-length adventure race overseas. Not at GODZone. Chapter 4 had what we would call ‘colts’ or mid to early 20 somethings and teenagers occupying 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th positions on the final leader board. Our youngest male and female competitors were 16 and 19 respectively. It’s an incredible testament to the attitude of these youngsters and their parents that have brought them to this toughest of sports so early on. These youngsters are the ones who are going to sweep all before them in 5-10 years time on the world stage. They are getting a grounding at the most technically demanding expedition race in the world against the best team in the world – Seagate. It’s only a matter of time before these young teams come of age and win GODZone. From there it is a logical step to world domination – it’s the Kiwi way in adventure racing.

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 Stu Lynch Full Course
2. Columbia Vidaraid Brazil Barbara Bomfim Spain Urtzi Iglesias Spain Jon Ander Arambalza Brazil Marco Amselem Full Course
3. Backcountry United States Dan Abel New Zealand Sarah Bryant United States Bryan Cowger New Zealand Rob Nesbitt Retired
4. Cure Kids New Zealand Ben Meyer New Zealand Sia Svendsen New Zealand Ian Jones New Zealand Rob Nicol Short 1
5. Bivouac Inov-8 New Zealand Ryan Thompson New Zealand Becs Law New Zealand JJ Wilson New Zealand Dayne McKnight Full Course
6. Sheepgate Australia Grant Pepper Australia Helke Melville Australia Janet Musker New Zealand Tim Sikma Short 1
7. Epic Endurance Canada Kelly Boyd Australia Nicki Rehn Canada Claire Perks New Zealand Dave Viitakangas Retired
8. Action Sunday New Zealand Aaron Agnew New Zealand Jacqui Gee New Zealand Nathan Jones New Zealand Amy Horn Short 1
9. Sheep Eaters New Zealand Robin Simpson South Africa Shelly Hufner Australia Joel Tate Australia Andre Morkel Short 1
10. Kauri Coasters New Zealand Barry Ruddell New Zealand Graeme Ewenson New Zealand Anyika Thomsen New Zealand Allan Kirkpatrick Full Course
11. Earth Sea Sky New Zealand Tom Bowen New Zealand Nicole Ranger New Zealand Chris Booth New Zealand Toby Johnston Retired
12. Heartland RICOH New Zealand Ian Walsh New Zealand Mike Robins New Zealand Huw John New Zealand Jo Turnbull Full Course
13. Tiki Tour New Zealand Tom Lucas New Zealand Floortje Grimmett New Zealand George Lucas New Zealand Mike Kelly Full Course
14. DAR Dingle Ireland Chris Caulfield Ireland Brian Keogh Ireland Noel OLeary United Kingdom Caroline Bullard Short 1
15. Real Discovery Japan Daisuke Minami Japan Goshi Ozawa Hong Kong Fung Ka Fai Japan Takako Takahashi Unranked
16. Search4Hurt New Zealand Ian Huntsman New Zealand Wendy Riach New Zealand Geoff Dillon New Zealand Andrea Peebles Short 1
17. Swordfox New Zealand Nick Ross New Zealand Brent Edwards New Zealand Fleur Pawsey New Zealand Ashley Whitehead Retired
18. You can cry but keep moving New Zealand Sakkie Meyer New Zealand Dene Gavin New Zealand Benjamin McDowall New Zealand Sarah Cairns Short 1
19. University of Auckland New Zealand Edward Lawley New Zealand Tom Reynolds New Zealand Matt Jeans New Zealand Mirjam van den Boom Full Course
20. Pat Farry Trust New Zealand Rachel Lynskey Australia Jeremy Webber New Zealand Garry Nixon New Zealand Adele Pheasant Short 1
21. Torpedo 7 New Zealand Richard Anderson New Zealand Bob McLachlan New Zealand Simon Bowden New Zealand Joanne Williams Unranked
22. Fit for Life New Zealand John Henson New Zealand Karen Muller New Zealand Ruth Tramsheck New Zealand Sharon Brophy Retired
23. BNZ New Zealand Rhys Burns New Zealand Lisa Bates New Zealand Glen Currie New Zealand Daniel Jones Full Course
24. New World St Martins New Zealand Sam Manson Brazil Flavio Vianna New Zealand Pete Smallfield New Zealand Ailsa Rollinson Retired
25. GB United Kingdom Anthony Emmet United Kingdom Alex Pilkington United Kingdom Joanne Thom United Kingdom Seamus Miekle Full Course
26. Balance Sports Nutrition New Zealand Louise Mark New Zealand Cam Carter Belgium Bart Muylle New Zealand Jerome Sheppard Full Course
27. Next Generation New Zealand Tim Farrant New Zealand Emily Wilson New Zealand Elisha Nuttall New Zealand Hamish Fleming Full Course
28. Southern (Dis)Comfort New Zealand Glenn Hedges New Zealand Georgia Whitla New Zealand Angus Petrie New Zealand Tony McGuire Short 1
29. One Square Meal New Zealand Sarah Fairmaid New Zealand Dwarne Farley New Zealand Ross Rotherham New Zealand Gordon Blythen Full Course
30. NCX New Zealand Simon Woods New Zealand Stephen John New Zealand Theodore Wordsworth New Zealand Jenni Blyleven Short 1
31. Absolute Wilderness NZ New Zealand Dan Moore New Zealand Dan Busch New Zealand Jeremy McKenzie New Zealand Lara Prince Retired
32. Super Subs New Zealand Mike Rait Denmark Camilla Gry Elmann Japan Ayako Nakazawa New Zealand Deklan Hodsell Retired
33. Bracken New Zealand Richard Fogarty New Zealand Tracey Bransgrove New Zealand Joe Morrison New Zealand Dan Thomas Unranked
34. Bear Hunt Australia Charlotte Petersen Australia Michael McCluskey Australia Mark Van Der Ploeg Australia Max Collet Short 1
35. Chimpanzee Bar Czech Republic Milan Brodina New Zealand Emily Forne New Zealand Greig Hamilton New Zealand Rob Creasy Full Course
36. Stromlonauts Australia Kim Gilfillan Australia Clare Lonergan Australia Kieran McDonald Australia James Kidd Short 1
37. More Pros Than Cons New Zealand Simon Trotter New Zealand Anna Barrett New Zealand Rhys John New Zealand David Ayre Short 1
38. Breen Homes New Zealand Keith Murray New Zealand Andrea Murray New Zealand Charlie Murray New Zealand Craig Murray Full Course
39. Hill Billys New Zealand Geoff Spark New Zealand Paul Spark New Zealand Seonaigh Conchie New Zealand Scott Henry Short 1
40. G Wizz New Zealand Destry Harte New Zealand Gareth Owen New Zealand Daralyn Gee New Zealand Richard Spelman Unranked
41. BMAC Cycle World Australia Mel Crook New Zealand Nolan Hill New Zealand Nick Williamson Australia Peta Cunningham Unranked
42. Freedom Fitness & Coaching New Zealand Richard Dove New Zealand Rosie Shakespeare New Zealand Tony Watson New Zealand Simon Lewis Unranked
43. Dynamite Adventure Racing Australia Paul Gruber Australia Angus Rodwell Australia Karina Vitiritti Australia Bruce Shaw Retired
45. Village Cycles New Zealand Robyn Dunmore New Zealand Gerard Malcolm New Zealand Ed Steenbergen New Zealand Kim Hogarth Short 1
46. One Direction New Zealand Richard McIntosh New Zealand Denis Woods New Zealand Richard Shields Ireland Fiona Reid Unranked
47. Osprey Packs New Zealand Hilary Totty New Zealand Tane Cambridge New Zealand Mitch Munro New Zealand Dave Slater Unranked
48. SAS (Still Accepting Sponsors) New Zealand Alastair McDowell New Zealand Ben Gibson New Zealand Isla Smith New Zealand Angus Watson Unranked
49. Assagai South Africa Morne Pienaar South Africa Jimmie Fourie Ireland Andie Lowry South Africa Eddie Schuurman Short 1
50. Kori Kita Racing New Zealand Steve Lock New Zealand Lea Vellenoweth New Zealand Hedley Meacheam New Zealand Dean Sisson Short 1
52. Deliver us from evil New Zealand Nick Lowe New Zealand Dave Rudge New Zealand Sarah Kenedy New Zealand Glen Warner Unranked
54. Haast Eagles New Zealand Kris Mayen New Zealand David Cowie New Zealand Katharine Eustace New Zealand Dan Cullen Short 1
55. Team Vistalite Central New Zealand Darren Clay New Zealand Don Reid New Zealand Mike Plimmer New Zealand Amie Manning Retired

The Route

All teams will be in no doubt that this was a tough course. The toughest yet? When you factor in the weather, the intensity of the terrain and competition, you can make a strong case for saying that Chapter 4 was indeed the hardest GODZone to date. The route started with technical challenges in the form of high mountains and cold weather. The middle part of the race was defined by big mountain stages on foot and bike (with many teams being caught on their bikes at 2000m in gale force winds and very low temperatures). There were reports of teams having to lie on their bikes to stop them being blown away.

Teams had to swim and coaster in the cold waters of Lake Wanaka. They also had to take on a highly tricky stage of orienteering in the native bush of the Waikaia Forest. There were four paddling stages in total (2 canoeing and 2 kayaking) but with no dark zones teams were open to pit themselves against the water challenges at night as well as day, including the coasteering. The final trekking stage gave plenty of route choice over the stunning terrain of the Hector and Garvie Mountains – perhaps the most beautiful landscape GODZone has ever visited. The final bike stage across the Old Woman and Old Man Ranges coupled with a wild paddle in deteriorating conditions on Lake Wanaka pushed every team to the very end.

The route covered a total distance of 554km, which included approximately 125km of trekking, 279km of biking, 56km of canoeing, 80km of kayaking, 7km of orienteering and 7km of coasteering. Given the layout of facilities, it was decided that the teams would only receive the maps for the first third of the course before the start of the race. The remaining maps were given to teams as they passed through Wanaka during the first mountain bike stage.


Start – Teams started below Fantail Falls close to the Divide which separates the Wanaka Region from the West Coast.

Stage 1 – Alpine Mountaineering using fixed lines, crampons and ice axes to climb to Mt Topheavy via the Brewster Glacier – stage shortened due to weather conditions but the stage still had huge elevation gain and some tricky navigation in poor visibility

Stage 2 – White water canoe down the grade II rapids of the Makarora River from Davis Flat to Makarora

Stage 3 – A high mountain trek over the Albert Burn area which offered some route choice but most will probably remember the night time river crossings of the Makarora, Wilkin Rivers and Albert Burn in rising river levels. Three teams got highly lost up the Albert Burn and had to be re-routed via helicopter whilst a number of the slower teams became trapped for a second night in the East Matukituki Valley due to high side streams blocking the track

Stage 4 – White water canoe down the grade II rapids of the Matukituki River with high rainfall making for quick times. The stage included 7km of coasteering from West Wanaka to Glendu Bay and a 400m swim across Lake Wanaka

Stage 5 – A super tough bike ride around the edge of Lake Wanaka, over the Criffel Range, Pisa Range, Gibbston Valley (many will long remember the CP above the Bungy Bridge which was much trickier than it looked) and along the shore of Lake Wakatipu to Drift Bay

Stage 6 – A scenic paddle down Lake Wakatipu to Kingston. The leading teams enjoyed a tail wind with many of the followers and back markers slogging into a stiff southerly wind, adding a couple of hours on to their paddle times

Stage 7 – The most beautiful stage ever? Trekking across the Hector and Garvie Mountains to Piano Flat in the Waikaia Forest with plenty of route choice and tricky CP’s. If you ever get a chance to visit…do it (just ask permission from the landowners first)

Stage 8 – Another huge bike ride across the Old Person Ranges, through Bannockburn, along the Newcastle Track which follows the Clutha River and then on to Dublin Bay

Stage 9 – Iconic paddle on the jewel in the host venues crown…Lake Wanaka.

Finish – Teams finished at Event HQ in Wanaka


SeagateThe 2015 edition of GODZone, Chapter 4 – Wanaka, was won by team Seagate, which comprised Stu Lynch, Chris Forne, Nathan Fa’avae, and Sophie Hart who once again put in another inspiring and devastating performance. That makes it a fairly convincing four wins out of four and their winning margin was a staggering 19hrs.

Seagate were always going to be the team to beat but the big question was how would the World Number 1 ranked team, Columbia Vidaraid, do against the super strong Kiwi contingent of teams. It’s fair to say that most Kiwi teams will have a newfound respect for the Brazillian/Spanish outfit as they performed amazingly well to take a fairly convincing second place. By their own admission they learnt a lot about the way GODZone works and would no doubt be a formidable opponent if they returned.

Third place were taken by Queenstown locals, Tiki Tour. They raced smartly and made few mistakes which gave them a well-earned place on the podium. Notable mentions must go to Bivouac Inov-8 and Chimpanzee Bar who finished 4th and 5th. They were separated by a mere 7 minutes at the finish and changed positions on the final paddle in very testing conditions.

next genGODZone is keen to promote emerging youth teams on their journey into this demanding sport. The younger teams compete for the Kathmandu Colt Trophy (as well as the overall title) and once again it was Next Generation, who triumphed last year, who came through with a fantastic performance. They were well deserved winners and finished 6th overall – a fantastic achievement given the quality of the field. Next Generation have done particularly well in coming through the ranks because they train and prepare with their brains as much as with their heart and muscles.

To win an expedition length race you need to race intelligently, strategically and have a great team dynamic. It’s traditional for the young teams to do OK on the fitness/endurance side of things but to sometimes fall short on tactics, navigation and sleep management. Next Generation now have 4 full length expedition races under their belts and they are still so young (that’s more races than most adventure racers do in a lifetime and they usually don’t start until they are 40+). The big question for teams such as Next Generation is whether they can remain motivated enough to become the torch bearers for New Zealand adventure racing on the world stage. Either way, the future prospects for adventure racing in New Zealand looks very bright with this crop of youngsters coming through and, on all accounts, there is another huge wave of school leaving adventure races already hot on their heels.

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 Stu Lynch 4Days 08Hrs 28Mins
2. Columbia Vidaraid Brazil Barbara Bomfim Spain Urtzi Iglesias Spain Jon Ander Arambalza Brazil Marco Amselem 5Days 03Hrs 57Mins
3. Tiki Tour New Zealand Tom Lucas New Zealand Floortje Grimmett New Zealand George Lucas New Zealand Mike Kelly 5Days 07Hrs 52Mins
4. Bivouac Inov-8 New Zealand Ryan Thompson New Zealand Becs Law New Zealand JJ Wilson New Zealand Dayne McKnight 5Days 12Hrs 01Mins
5. Chimpanzee Bar Czech Republic Milan Brodina New Zealand Emily Forne New Zealand Greig Hamilton New Zealand Rob Creasy 5Days 12Hrs 08Mins