April 19, 2016

January RunFest!

DISCLAIMER – this is a draft for review/discussion only.

Here it is, 4-and-a-bit amazing days of running in several incredible locations across the lower North Island.

Join us for a multi-day exhibition of unbelievable countryside in some seriously spectacular places peppered around the Wairarapa.

When: January (somewhere between the 6th and 18th Jan)

Why January? Many attendees will be training toward the Tarawera UltraMarathon so early/mid-Jan is the last opportunity for some long hours on the trails ahead of the sharpen and taper towards race-date.  It is also a ‘generally’ quiet time with work and fleixble holiday and family time enables most people to get away for a few days running.  The weather is fairly settled and the normal biting Wairarapa winds and relentless rain will hopefully be limited.

Who: The runs are being arranged by Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger.  They will help co-ordinate transport, logistics, accommodation and booking.  We will accompany you and most of the runs however cannot be considered as guides for legal reasons.  You will be required to acknowledge this in a disclaimer that will also cover your responsibility for your own injuries and associated costs for rescue and corpse recovery.  In event of serious tragedy we call dibs on your gear, backpack, shoes and any personal effects of resale value.

Getting there:  Wellington is your destination for airborne travel with it’s international and domestic airport servicing cheap flights from most sources across Asia Pacific.  Some local logistics and planning can be clarified following your travel bookings as we will likely have athletes attending from Wellington or nearby.

The Cost: Assume costs to be between $120-$190 per day and all days need be paid in full.  You are paying for Accommodation, Food, Landowners-Koha (gift for access), MINIMAL Organizing-Koha (Gift for Kerry and Ali’s efforts doing your shopping, arranging access, answering your questions, handling your booking, planning, preparation, our expenses NB – we would like to do this for you and not have it cost us financially to do so).  Please note that you are NOT paying for Kerry and Ali as guides or for any professional services during your time on public lands.  The majority of your costs like accommodation are paid ‘up-front’ by us, your booking is 80% non-refundable.  We are reasonable people but must clarify that there is no exception to this under any circumstance.

Am I fit enough? Most days will have an easy/hard option (generally short/long).  It’s normal to worry that you’re not fit enough to get through however rest assured that every effort will be made to cater for athletes of almost all abilities.  While a good level of fitness is recommended it’s not essential that you be ultra-marathon fit.  Most days will be between 2 and 6 hours depending on which routes you choose.

Itinerary:  This will be made available in the few weeks prior to the multi-day running festival.  The runs below are not necessarily listed in order.


Run 1 Okau Wilderness run – Mataikona, Castlepoint (private access)walk7

Okau station spans many thousands of remote acres on the Wairarapa’s rugged west coast.  It was a working sheep and deer farm until reverting to Manuka and Kanuka wilderness for deer hunting and apiary operations.  Many wild deer (and bees!) inhabit the area and a chance encounter with the very active wildlife is almost certain.  While the likelihood of being stung is low, it is recommended that those with insect anaphylaxis do not attend this run.

Start from the remote coastline north of Castle Point and take the rough cut farm tracks of Okau Station into the hills behind Mataikona.  Easy terrain greets the beginning of the run along Okau stream however the country soon becomes sharp and undulates uphill toward Mt Percy (472m).

Both short and long run options exist

Our hosts – the Vermeers are long standing family friends and are passionate about the land.walk6

Accommodation options will be clarified closer to the date and will include one or some of the following,

  • Communal converted sheering quarters,
  • Remote ‘basic’ hut
  • Remote ‘luxury’ hill-top lodge

(Clarification and P.O.A available on request however depending on run routes not all may be available and are dependent on attendance).

Run 2 Castlepoint Lighthouse

Enjoy a cruisy short day (recovery) of running around the Castlepoint lighthouse and peninsula. Explore the rocky coast and really quite terrifying cliff edges that allow for some epic views and give the adrenal gland a workout with some ‘whoops-nearly-fell-to-my-death’ moments.

Note – Kerry will not be guiding you on this adventure.

Finish with the kiwi classic ‘Fish and Chips’ on the beach (Feesh and Cheeps for our Aussie attendees).

Run 3 Jumbo/HoldsworthJumboPowell

JumboPowell2The Holdsworth area is 20kms inland from the bustling agricultural metropolis Masterton and is home to the best running in the Tararua ranges.  With a plethora of trails on offer there are shorter and longer loops around the area with varied length, duration, and terrain to suit all abilities.

If possible we will endeavour to have this run take place on a FRIDAY to allow casual attendance for other athletes in the area as well as access to the unique, quirky and remote ‘Pizza night’.

This is not a private run and no one is paying for access to the park, nor any professional guiding or coaching services.  Please note that Kerry will NOT accompany you as a guide on the day however he may eat your pizza if you don’t get back in time.

Run options will likely include:

  • The famous Jumbo/Holdsworth loop (weather dependent) – Long
  • The secret ‘Old Sign Post’ loop (single track) – Medium
  • Hooper Loop – Short
  • Atiwhakatu Stream walk – Wet

Swim and pizza to follow

Run 4 Haurangi TraverseHaurangi Ridge

If there was a ‘gem in the crown’ of this multi-day run-fest THIS IS IT!  We’ve secured access to private lands in the Haurangi valley so varied and beautiful it’ll make for numerous involuntarily audible exclamations of “WHOA!” and “WOW!”

HaurangiChasm2This top-secret loop has it all!  Start with a rolly farm track through Manuka into a technical ascent through ‘untouched’ bush (bash-bash-bash) to be rewarded with beautiful moss-covered Beach trees for 5km of runnable ridgeline in a forest time forgot.  Bush eventually gives way to farmland as you are greeted by panoramic views of South Wairarapa and Martinborough with the beginning of your descent into the INCREDIBLE Patuna Chasm.

The chasm can be a chilly place and since some SHORT swimming is required (<10m) you will need to be somewhat prepared, waterproof, buoyant and capable.  It would also help if you weren’t petrified of eels because you’ll have many ‘close-encounters’ with these mostly-harmless critters.  A water-resistant camera is a MUST though little can be done to do justice to the sights that await you this day.  For those that attended the 2016 camp, consider this the 2.0 version with around 10 times as much chasm, 4 times as much running and a hundred times more “ITS SO PRETTY!!!”

From the chasm shorter and longer run options exist to close out your adventure-filled day.

Wild deer exist in abundance in the Haurangi bush so keep your camera close at hand.

As with Okau, much of this farmland now centers around honey production so you are advised to bee careful not to upset the busy workers as they go about their beesuniss (the puns are relentless, free and motivational).

There exists the option of true luxury accommodation (for 2) should you want a quiet evening away from the remainder of the smelly crew who will be slumming it at the DoC Waikuku lodge some kms further up the valley.

Run 5 RuakokoputunaWaynesFarm

From the home of one of very own beautiful SQUADDIES, runners will circumnavigate a modest sheep and cattle station at the foot of the Haurangi Valley – Ruakokoputuna (yep, you can’t say this correctly).  Your very shy and retiring hosts are so used to their working land that they wouldn’t consider it the running mecca it turned out to be on our last expedition across it.WaynesFarm4



Pack some gels and head into the hills, this is a fun one!  Definitely some rolly old countryside but plenty of running to get in.

This farm also has an excellent canyon/chasm which adds another exciting adventure to the day as well as a chance to cool off.


Waynes Farm2