Printer symbol
Saturday 9 March 2013

The race history and other information

The first Tararua Mountain Race was held in 1990 when a small group of local runners wanted to have their own event on the mountain running calendar. For the first 4 years it was run in November, then in the 1994-95 summer it switched to March. As a result there was no run in 1994. It has been run every year since and is now well established. It attracts runners from all over the country as well as internationally.

It is the hardest mountain run in New Zealand and it follows the classic Southern Crossing route of the Tararua mountain range, north of Wellington. There is a total ascent of 2,500m and a total descent of 2,475m, with a total distance of 35.4km. The race traverses the route from Kaitoke to Otaki Forks, however it was run in the opposite direction for the first couple of years and again in 2000. Feedback from the participants and consideration of the rugged track conditions along the Marchant Ridge section means that the event will continue to follow the current direction.

Regarded as a hard weekend trip by local trampers (hikers), the track is rugged underfoot and climbs to Mt Hector at 1529m. The views can be fantastic, but only the very fit or insane contemplate running it. The defining aspect of this race is the weather conditions along the open tops and previous knowledge of the route is a huge advantage. The Tararua range is famous for its dangerous weather conditions, and navigation can become difficult to the inexperienced if low cloud rolls in. Because of this, first time participants are required to run as a team of two. However, this is at the race directors' discretion and experienced mountain runners should expect to be able to compete as individuals.

The average time to run this event is 7½ hours. Taking into account the tough nature of this event some amazing race records has been set. Runners such as Collin Rolfe, Antonia Wood, Gillian Ingham, Tony Gazley and Chris Tait set record times in the 1990's, which stand today. However runners like Carline Thomas, Billie Marshall, Dougal Thorburn, Julie Gordon, Cheryl Young and David Keen (to name a few) are always competing to improve their personal times or aim to break records. Two other people need to be mentioned as they have achieved an amazing goal by running every event; they are Terry Patterson and Allan Stowell. A couple of regular competitors, Tony Coard and Jillian Preston, need acknowledgement as they selflessly team up with different people, each event, to help them to compete for the first time.

This event is run with the consent of the Department of Conservation.

Check out some of the personal accounts of previous competitors to get an idea of what the race is like. Also have a look at the terrain images.

Return Symbol


Race categories

Individual event

  • Men's Open
  • Woman's Open
  • Men's Veteran (40+ years)
  • Woman's Veteran (40+ years)

Teams of two

  • Men's Team - Open and Veteran
  • Mixed Team - Open and Veteran
  • Woman's Team - Open and Veteran
Team competitors must race together and finish together or risk disqualification.
Both members must be 40+ years for Veteran teams.
NB. We have also been donated trophies for the fastest woman and man over 50.

Return Symbol


"Pre-race day" information

  • Entry forms are due 1st March. However late entries (refer to additional costs) will be accepted, but not on race day.
  • Confirmation of entry, registration details and handicap start times will be notified by post or Email upon receipt of your entry.
  • The entry fee includes refreshments, race results, a certificate and a finish line photo.
  • Competitors must be familiar with the route, carry the required gear (refer to point 9, Conditions of Entry), and be self sufficient.
  • Refunds will gladly be given for any cancellation received by 1st March.


  • Kaitoke is approximately 45min drive from Wellington, but if you would prefer to stay nearby, you can stay at the start line at Kiwi Ranch - its not flash; bunk rooms and shared bathrooms, but it is cheap at $20pp. They also offer dinner and breakfast - contact the event director if you are interested in meals.


  • The average race time is 7½ hours; so you will need a good endurance base to sustain this event.
  • Have a look at the race profile to get an idea of the ascent and descent.
  • Previous knowledge of the route is an advantage. It is recommended that competitors train on sections of the route if possible and/or tramp (hike) the route. Learn more about the route from good accounts of people who previously ran the Southern Crossing.
  • If you can not gain access to the Tararua Forest Park, then training on a variety of boggy, tree-root strewn tracks is a good idea. Most people find the Marchant Ridge section, which is notoriously boggy, tree-rooty and steep, to be the most challenging section. Have a look at some of the terrain images to get an idea.
  • This is a long race so make sure you know what food works for you.
  • Check out more training tips from previous competitors.

Return Symbol


"On the day" information


Getting there...

  • Provided there is sufficient interest a Shuttle bus (refer to additional costs) will be leaving Wellington railway station at 5:15am and 6:15am, Melling Railway station at 5:30am and 6:30am, to take participants to the start at Kaitoke.

Getting home...

  • Provided there is sufficient interest a Shuttle bus (refer to additional costs) will be leaving Otaki Forks, straight after the prize giving, to take participants to Waikanae railway station, Porirua railway station and onto Wellington.
    However other participants could have room in their vehicles; which can be investigated on race day.

Registration and race start

  • Registration is 30 minutes before each race start but will be confirmed in correspondence before the race.
  • Start times are handicapped, dependent on your estimated completion time.
    They are at 6:30am, 7:00am, 7:30am, 8:00am, 8:30am, 9:00am and 9:30am.

During the race

  • Marshals will be stationed at Alpha Hut and at Kime Hut. Race numbers and split times will be recorded at these points. Marshals will be stationed at the Dress Circle, half way between Mt Alpha and Mt Hector. They can offer First Aid and help if required.
  • Support will be provided at Alpha and Kime huts and includes limited water and juice. First Aid is also available.

After the race

  • Recovery tents and refreshments/luncheon will be available at the finish.
  • A First Aid station will be provided at the finish.
  • Massage stations will be available, at the finish, for a small fee.
  • Trophies will be awarded to the fastest teams and individuals in each category.
  • Spot prizes and trophies will be presented at the completion of the race, approx 3:30pm, at the finish area.
  • Some merchandise may be on offer.

Return Symbol


"Post-race day" information

  • Full results will be published ASAP after the finish of the race.
  • Ongoing news updates will be updated on the web and also our facebook page.

Return Symbol


The race director

Mike Sheridan

Race director

Mike competed in the race for the first four years when it was a team based event. In his spare time Mike is actively involved in the local mountain running scene, having helped set up the virtual mountain running club, Wellington Ridge Runners which is the community behind the event.

Mike is also well known in Rogaining (long distance orienteering) circles having organised numerous local events and the National Championships in 2006 and 2010.

Contact Details
Phone: 64 4 562 8839 (home)     64 21878665 (mobile)