Running Marathons in New Zealand

23 Sep 2010 16:27
Jean-Loup Fenaux

New Zealand map
Credit : Marcus Holland-Moritz
After the interview about the New World Marlborough Marathon I published on Monday, I wanted to take some time to present the marathons organized in New Zealand.

New Zealand is considered the last “New world”. With its breathtaking seneries, gorgeous forest and cool weather, the two island country is a great place to run marathons.

The country hosts at least 24 marathons, making it possible to run a race in each season.

  • Spring (Oct – Dec) : 7 marathons
  • Summer (Jan – Mar) : 6 marathons
  • Autumn (Apr – Jun) : 5 marathons
  • Winter (Jul-Sep) : 6 marathons

Most of the races are in the North Island and the region of Auckland, has the richest offering with no less than 5 marathons.

I’m going to take you on a short tour of the land of the long white cloud by selecting a few of its colorful marathons.

The North Island

We begin this journey by the sub-tropical North Island. It is the more populous of the two. Its centre is mostly a volcanic landscape with vast forests, volcanic peaks, and picturesque lakes, the eastern part being covered with vineyards.

adidas Auckland Marathon
Auckland City
Credit : Steve & Jemma Copley

Auckland – Sunday October 31th at 06:10 This is the star of New Zealand’s marathons. Each year, the event gathers 10,000 runners in the streets of the ‘City of Sails’. A half marathon, a quarter marathon and a 5K are organized the same day. More info…

Great Barrier Island Wharf to Wharf Marathon
Great Barrier Island Tree Ferns
Credit : Allison

Port FitzRoy – Saturday October 9h at 07:20 The race brings the runners through one of the most unspoilt native forest left in New Zealand. Half of the race is on trails, half on roads. You can expect sharp climbs, awesome views of sand beaches and immersion in the native bush !More info…

Shoe Clinic Harbour Capital Marathon
Oriental Bay  Wellington, New Zealand.
Credit : Peti Morgan

Wellington – Sunday June 27th (2011 date not available yet) The race is based in the capital city of New Zealand. The route is flat and fast. It runs the participants around the magnificent waterfront of the city. Last June to celebrate its 25th anniversary, 4,000 runners took part in one of the three races organized (marathon, half marathon and 10k). More info…

Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon
Lake Rotorua
Credit : Marc Veraart

Rotorua – Saturday April 30th 2011 at 07:45 This is a road race that circles around the volcanic Lake Rotorua. Like in a rugby game, the race begins with the traditional Maori haka. The routes alternates between long flats and undulating hills. A mud bath or resfull spa activities will help you clear the marathon’s fatigue.More info…

The South Island

We now cross the Cook Strait to land on the south island. It is the largest and the less crowded. The island is divided by a long chain of peaks called the Southern Alps and bears spectacular forests. A great playing field for runners.

Moro Marathon
Dunedin from Signal Hill Lookout
Credit : Tony Bowden

Dunedin- Sunday September 11th 2011 at 08:00 The race is the most southern marathon. It is located in the city of Dunedin and will celebrate its 33rd anniversary next year. The course is mainly flat with slight undulations over the last 10km with a sharp but brief rise at the 39k mark.More info… Check the interview I did with Phil Coakes, the race director back in 2008.

Motatapu Icebreaker Off Road Marathon
Rocky Mountain, Wanaka, New Zealand
Credit : Rosino

Motatapu Station- Sunday March 12th 2011 at 08:00 This trail event runs through the majestic high country valleys near Lake Wanaka. It follows a route used by early Maori as an access for food and gathering. The route is only open to public once a year for the race. Hill climbing and river crossing will become a habit before the end of the 42k.More info…

New World Marlborough Marathon
Vines @ Marlborough, New Zealand
Credit : Tim Parkinson

Blenheim – Saturday December 4th 2010 Spring race that runs through the magnificent acres of vineyards around Blenheim. Next December will be the inaugural race. Check the interview I did about the race. More info…

In 2011, New Zealand will host the Rugby world cup from September 9 to October 23. So if you are a runner and an Rugby enthousiast, you can combine both activities. The Moro Marathon is already scheduled for 2011 and The Legend Marathon, Whangarei Marathon, Great Barrier Island Wharf to Wharf Marathon, Wairarapa Country Marathon should soon announce their date for 2011 during the world cup.

For many of you, New Zealand may be quite far away, but the sceneries, the Maori culture and the races are worth the trip.

Have you already run a marathon in New Zealand ?

PS : You can get great travel information on