If you really want to see natural New Zealand, try this iconic multisport event that’s been running since 1983.
Held every February, the course starts on the West Coast at Kumara Beach and traverses the width of the South Island, crossing the main divide and finishing on the East Coast at New Brighton Beach Pier in Christchurch.
Over 243km (choose between 1 or 2 days) you’ll run 3km from the black sands and lush windswept landscapes on the West Coast inland to your waiting bike.
You’ll ride 55km beside the Taramakau River to the foothills of the Southern Alps where you’ll switch to running shoes for the first true test of the course.
The 33km run is mainly off trail with the rocky riverbed often the only direct line up the valley. Competitors encounter multiple river crossings with frigid crystal clear water and an elevation gain of nearly 800m on their way to Goat Pass and the start of the descent.
With the very fastest athletes taking nearly 3 hours, the run is as much a test of co-ordination and strength as it is outright speed.
A short 15km ride follows before the second jewel in the course; the mighty Waimakariri River.
Kayaking 70kms of braids and a stunning gorge, the river section is for many both the highlight and the crux of the race. The water flows swiftly in places and mixes long calm sections with rapids up to grade 2 in size.
It takes competitors from the heart of the Southern Alps out on to the Canterbury Plains where just one final 70km ride stands between them and the finish on the East Coast at the New Brighton Pier amongst a vibrant beachside festival.
When founder Robin Judkins pioneered the course in 1982, he took 11 mates with him. He expected a field of 35 for the first race the following year and was surprised to receive 79 entries. That year one of the bikes had a baby seat and one of the kayaks was canvas.
Times have changed but Robin Judkins is still at the finish every year as Race Ambassador, welcoming competitors home.