Pushed to the limits: The toughest sporting events in NZ

You might not know it, but New Zealand is host to some of the toughest physical and mental sporting events on the planet.  Whether competitors are running 200km, climbing cliff faces, kayaking down a river, or doing all 3 in one race, all of the challenges have one thing in common: they push athletes to their physical and mental limits.

NZ’s landscapes are both picture perfect and the perfect terrain for a harrowing race. Our sporting events draw eager sportsmen from near and far wanting to see what they’re truly capable of. So, have you got what it takes?

The Revenant  

could be our country’s most difficult race. The name hasn’t been chosen lightly; the Revenant is an ultra-adventure race not for the faint hearted. Beginning 45 minutes out of Queenstown, challengers have to traverse tough terrain, running approximately 190km and climbing 16,000 feet. Easy enough, yeah? To up the stakes even more, no GPS, watches, or altimeters are permitted – only a map and compass are allowed. Still no sweat, right? Challengers only have 60 hours to complete the course and are without assistance at all stages (except for emergencies). After 60 hours if they haven’t arrived at the finish line they are automatically withdrawn from the race.

It’s a race designed for most competitors to fail. In fact, the Revenant organisers are honest about the fact that it’s possible NO ONE will make it. It may sound demotivating, but for those who are strong and brave enough to perhaps make it to the end, the win is all the more rewarding. If you’re crazy enough to give the Revenant a go, don’t worry – there’s still time for you to train. The next race starts on January 17th 2020.

Coast to Coast

Another South Island event, the Coast to Coast is one of the world’s longest running multi-sport races, having begun way back in 1983. Starting on the West Coast, the event sees athletes run over 30km with tough inclines, river crossings, and uneven terrain, cycle over 85km at various stages of the course, and kayak 70km down the Waimakariri river at the mercy of the rapids and weather conditions. Challengers finish the race by cycling to the New Brighton pier on the East Coast to celebrate at a beachside festival.

The Coast to Coast has seen over 18,000 athletes complete the course during its lifetime, with the option to test your abilities by completing the race in either one day or two. You’ve got until February 7th 2020 to get in shape, so what are you waiting for?

Kepler Challenge

It seems the South Island has the perfect conditions to test man’s physical limits, with the Kepler Challenge taking place in the Fiordland National Park. The Kepler Challenge began back in 1988 and has now become one of New Zealand’s iconic mountain runs. You can choose between the 60km Kepler track or the 27km Luxmore Grunt route, both with their own tough moments and steep inclines.

The beauty of this run is not just around you in the national park, but also in how the locals from Te Anau rally to create an environment of encouragement and support for the runners who have come from NZ and beyond. The race is held on the first weekend of December each year, so you better get training in time for the 2019 round!


Ironman is a formidable international triathlon series run by the World Triathlon Corporation and we’re lucky enough to have our very own race in Taupo. NZ has been home to the Ironman race for 35 years, with at least half of the participants each year coming from overseas to compete. The race begins with a 3.8km swim in the fresh and beautiful Lake Taupo, followed by an 180km bike ride that is a mixture of serene lakeside cycling and challenging forest and farmland, ending with a testing 42.2km run. Start training now for the race in March 2020. Who knows – maybe you’ll qualify to compete in the Ironman Championships in November, which are also being held in Taupo for the first time ever.

Tough Mudder

This one is a little different to the other challenges mentioned so far. With no podiums, winners, or clocks, the race is against yourself and how far and fast you can push yourself to complete the 18km mud and obstacle course. With an emphasis on teamwork and camaraderie, it’s a challenge you’ll finish and be left feeling accomplished in more ways than one. Held at Hampton Downs, this international challenge will test your ability to climb walls, crawl under barbed wire fences, and tackle a sea of mud – just to name a few of the 19 obstacles that you’ll face on the course. The emphasis is on having fun while you complete the challenging course and with the 2019 challenges taking place on Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December 2019, why not sign up?