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Rotorua to host ninth chapter of world’s largest expedition adventure race

Rotorua to host ninth chapter of world’s largest expedition adventure race
January 17, 2021

As host of the ninth chapter of the world's largest expedition adventure race - GODZone - Rotorua will be welcoming more than 300 adventure racers from around New Zealand from 4th– 13th March 2021.

GODZone will celebrate Rotorua’s acclaimed natural, volcanic landscape and local outdoor adventure scene. The adventure racing teams will experience the best the region offers during the non-stop race.

GODZone offers three racing categories PURE, PRIME, and PURSUIT, of varying course lengths. The Chapter 9 full-length course will traverse approximately 700km, while the shorter formatted GZ Pursuit and Prime course will cover around 580km. Teams will navigate and choose their route across the ‘secret’ course, travelling to designated checkpoints and transition areas from start to finish.

Trekking tops the list of major outdoor disciplines at GODZone Chapter 9, with two significant trek sections detailed in the course maps. Depending on routes taken and choices made, PURE teams will experience roughly 370km of mountain biking, 140km of paddling, and 190km of trekking in total.

GODZone assistant course designer Neil Jones from Whakatane adds "It has been exciting to be part of the team designing this very first North Island GODZone course. Rotorua and its surrounds are absolutely made for adventure and the competitors are in for a real journey. The course is big, challenging and diverse – it’s going to be epic and a GODZone to be remembered."

Each GODZone chapter since its inception in 2011 has taken racers to extreme and unique places across New Zealand’s South Island. Chapter 9 is a real step change given the North Island locale and a very different beast from Chapter 8 in Canterbury, where competitors experienced large, open-topped mountain ranges and long, braided rivers. This time they will discover significant amounts of native forest, some hot and cold lakes, and interesting, complex river systems. The close proximity between the coastline, mountains, and volcanoes make for a compelling mix of disciplines and experiences.

GODZone Creator, Warren Bates says on current course timings; the fastest teams should complete the race in approximately four and a half to five days and notes “this is the longest GODZone course by far and an extremely challenging target for most teams to finish within the eight days the course remains open. There is one significant time cut off midway around the course, which will put them all behind schedule and may force some teams on to a shorter course to ensure finishing in the time available.

“At times, teams will be immersed in the bush with minimal visibility, wondering where the next exact topographical feature will emerge – at other times, they will be staggered by the view.

“Competitors will have to be smart, careful, and strategic when attacking certain sections of the course, particularly at nightfall when navigational difficulties will be considerably amplified. If the navigators mis-locate themselves in this type of native forest at night, it will be a reorientation challenge to get back on track.

“Both of the trek sections are unique. One is a navigator's dream and the other long and stunning, with abundant route choices. Trekking with packrafts is a large component of the race, with the water sections playing a significant part in the event. We highly recommend that all our competitors ‘skill up’ and ensure that they are capable of coping with open water paddling, white water, and river canoeing that could be up to Grade 3 level."

Rotorua is world-famous for mountain biking and attracting some of the world's best mountain bikers to the city’s annual Crankworx Festival.

Bates says GODZone competitors will benefit from the extensive network of world-class biking trails on offer across the region and adds "By far, this is the very best mountain biking we have ever done at GODZone. Our teams can expect to experience epic backcountry rides and exciting remote forestry riding, which could prove challenging as forestry road maps are often not updated. That could prove to be the sting in the tail of some ride sections, particularly for newbies, and good bike skills will come in extremely handy. We highly recommend that all riders are comfortable riding Grade IV bike trails.”

GODZone Chapter 9 has been supported by the Rotorua Lakes Council as official location hosts, the New Zealand Government's Domestic Events Fund (DFE), along with a small, dedicated group of sponsors.

God’s Own Country – Definition: Often abbreviated to Godzone or less often Godzown, it is a phrase that has been used for more than 100 years by New Zealanders to describe their homeland. God’s Own Country as a phrase was often used and popularised by New Zealand’s longest serving prime minister, Richard John Seddon.

Many people believe that New Zealand is the spiritual home of adventure racing. With wilderness at most people’s doorstep and a culture of adventure embedded in the nation’s psyche, it was an easy marriage in the early days of the sport.

For more information on GODZone, Chapter 9, go to

Image: Trekking tops the list of major outdoor disciplines at GODZone Chapter 9. Courtesy of GODZone

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