Host Town

Pre-Race: Wanaka

Post-Race: Queenstown

Both iconic towns are served by Queenstown Airport (ZQN)

Thursday, 28 February 2019
  • Volunteers arrive (anytime) to the host town
  • Volunteers stay overnight in the host town
Friday, 1 March 2019
  • Volunteer training (all day)
  • Competitors arrive to the host town of Wanaka and stay overnight in the assigned race hotel
  • Priority Check-In for the 4 Deserts Club members (time to be confirmed)
Saturday, 2 March 2019
  • Competitor Briefing (compulsory for ALL competitors)
  • Competitor Check-In, including administrative, medical and equipment review
  • Departure for Camp 1
Sunday, 3 March 2019
  • Start / Stage 1
Monday, 4 March 2019
  • Stage 2
Tuesday, 5 March 2019
  • Stage 3
Wednesday, 6 March 2019
  • Stage 4
Thursday, 7 March 2019
  • Stage 5
Friday, 8 March 2019
  • Stage 5 (continued)
Saturday, 9 March 2019
  • Stage 6
  • Conclusion of the race
  • Bus transfer to the host town of Queenstown
  • Awards Banquet
  • Competitors and volunteers overnight in the host town of Queenstown
Sunday, 10 March 2019
  • Race activities have concluded and you are ready to depart or continue your travels in New Zealand


RacingThePlanet: New Zealand, the 11th edition of the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon, will take place on the South Island of New Zealand. The host town, Queenstown, is perhaps one of the world’s foremost adventure capitals.

The South Island, with an area of 58,084 square miles is the largest land mass of New Zealand; it contains about one quarter of the New Zealand population and is the world's 12th-largest island. It is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres (12,316 ft), with the high Kaikoura Ranges to the northeast. There are eighteen peaks of more than 3000 metres (9800 ft) in the South Island. The east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines such as Fiordland, very high proportion of native bush, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The dramatic landscape of the South Island has made it a popular location for the production of several films, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.


The host town, Queenstown, New Zealand, sits on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps. Renowned for adventure sports, it’s also a base for exploring the region’s vineyards and historic mining towns.

The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

It has a 32 percent larger landmass than the North Island of New Zealand so is sometimes referred to as the "mainland" of New Zealand, especially by South Island residents, but only 23 percent of New Zealand's 4.8 million inhabitants live there. In the early stages of European settlement of the country, the South Island had the majority of the European population and wealth due to the 1860s gold rushes.


Besides the stunning scenery and wilderness, the South Island is known for its unpredictable weather.

While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures.

The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year.

RacingThePlanet: New Zealand takes place at the end of summer (early March). Below are the expected weather conditions for the course area.

  • Temperature: Day-time temperatures typically range from 12-25°C / 53-77°F and night temperatures from 2-7°C / 35-45°F. However, it could be warmer or colder during the day time and the temperature at night could drop below 0°C / 32°F.
  • Wind: The prevailing wind direction is westerly, although in individual months easterlies may predominate, and north of Taranaki the general flow is southwesterly. In the North Island winds generally decrease for a period in the summer or early autumn, but in many parts of the South Island July and August are the least windy months.
    The blocking effect of the mountain ranges modifies the westerly wind pattern. Wind strength decreases on the western side, but increases through Cook Strait, Foveaux Strait, and about the Manawatu Gorge. Air is also forced upwards over the ranges, which results in a warm drying (föhn) wind in the lee areas to the east of both islands.
    Wellington averages 173 days a year with wind gusts greater than about 60 km/h, compared with 30 for Rotorua, 31 for Timaru, and 35 for Nelson.
    Sea breezes are the predominant winds in summer in many coastal places, such as Canterbury where the northeasterlies are almost as frequent as the predominant southwesterlies.
  • Precipitation: New Zealand's average rainfall is somewhat high and evenly spread throughout the year. Over the northern and central areas of New Zealand more rain falls in winter than in summer, whereas for much of the southern part of New Zealand, winter is the season of least rainfall. As well as producing areas of stunning native forest, the high rainfall makes New Zealand an ideal place for farming and horticulture.
  • Sunshine: Most places in New Zealand receive over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas - Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough - receiving over 2,350 hours. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.30pm. New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries, which makes the UV rays in New Zealand sunlight very strong.


A Multi-Cultural Society. New Zealanders (also called Kiwis) are friendly, welcoming and enjoy meeting people from other cultures. The Māori, New Zealand's first settlers, make up around 15% of the population but there are lots of different ethnic communities living in New Zealand.

Māori culture is the culture of the Māori of New Zealand (an Eastern Polynesian people) and forms a distinctive part of New Zealand culture. ... The Māori believed that the gods created and communicated through the master craftsmen. Carving has been a tapu art, subject to the rules and laws of tapu.

The Maori have a rich culture, steeped in tradition and legend. Legend is passed down through the generations by story telling - stories that tell of the creation of the islands of New Zealand and much more.

Maraes, (communal "plaza" areas where the Maori people meet), provide a focus for social, cultural and spiritual life within the Maori community. The Marae includes a wharenui (meeting house) and wharekai (dining room).

Maori people define themselves by their tribe, or iwi. Family is very important within the Maori culture, and encompasses immediate family, in-laws and all those connected by blood ties.

Dance for the Maori people is a very important part of their culture. Kapa haka (Maori performance art), incorporates singing, dancing and facial expressions. Each action within the dance has a meaning, tying it to the words. The traditional Maori war dance, known as the haka, is performed by the All Blacks (our National Rugby Team), before each game.

Around six percent of the population affiliated with non-Christian religions, with Hinduism being the largest at over two percent, while 42 percent of New Zealanders stated they had no religion in the most recent census and 4 percent made no declaration.


This culture was brought by the British settlers who colonized New Zealand in the 19th century. Before 1815, Pakeha is a term used to define white people. It is referred to the people who came from England and settled in the country. Later on, the term is used to define fair-skinned person who was born in New Zealand. It was later on that the term Pakeha was applied to all fair-skinned people in the country. This will include anybody with Anglo-celtic origin such as England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and even Americans. Although somewhat related to the British culture, the Pakeha they have a distinct differences. While the British culture includes higher form equality, the Pakeha culture is a sub-culture that is derived from the Irish, Italian and other European groups and non-ethnic subcultures.

New Zealand has three official languages: New Zealand English, Te Reo Māori (the Māori language), and New Zealand Sign Language. In practice only English is widely used although major efforts have been made in recent years to nurture Te Reo. Numerous other languages are spoken in New Zealand due to its high racial diversity as a country.


In March 2019, the ELEVENTH edition of the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon will take place on the South Island of New Zealand. The host towns are Wanaka (pre-race) and Queenstown (post-race) which are appropriately famous for their stunning vistas and adventure sports.

The course features the great variety of iconic scenery and terrain of this beautiful region. Some highlights include clear still lakes, rugged hills, vast plains, rolling farmland where you will see local farm life (and lots of sheep), subtropical forests, open valleys with picturesque rivers running through, and ice-age glaciers, all with spectacular views of surrounding peaks and dramatic scenery. 

The course features the great variety of iconic scenery and terrain of this beautiful region. Some highlights include clear still lakes, rugged hills, vast plains, rolling farmland where you will see local farm life (and lots of sheep), subtropical forests, open valleys with picturesque rivers running through, and ice-age glaciers, all with spectacular views of surrounding peaks and dramatic scenery. 

The information below details the stage distances, elevation profile and terrain. Please note this is provisional information and the details could still change.

Map of the Course

Below is a map of the general area of the course.

In order to respect private land that the course will be on, and to ensure that everyone goes into the race on equal terms, the full map will only be published at the time of the race.



The total distance of the course is 250 kilometers / 155 miles. The approximate distances per stage can be seen below.

  Date Kilometers/Miles
Stage 1 Sun, 3 March 40 km / 25 miles
Stage 2 Mon, 4 March 41 km / 25 miles
Stage 3 Tue, 5 March 41 km / 25 miles
Stage 4 Wed, 6 March 42 km / 26 miles
Stage 5 Thu, 7 & Fri, 8 March 78 km / 48 miles
Stage 6 Sat, 9 March 10 km / 6 miles


New Zealand is a country of hills and mountains so there are some climbs, but there is nothing technical or super steep and it is all at a low elevation.

Highest point: 1960 meters / 6,430 feet

Lowest point: 200 meters / 660 feet

The total elevation gain: 8,800 meters / 29,000 feet over the 250km / 155 miles

The total elevation loss: 9,570 meters / 31,400 feet over the 250km / 155 miles


The course is primarily on tracks, trails with some off-road sections and river beds. The terrain will consist of a combination of grasslands, fields, rocky terrain, gravel tracks, river beds, open plains and forest trails.

We recommend that you have a look at the PHOTOS to get an idea of the terrain and also what the hills look like.


During each stage checkpoints are located approximately every 10 kilometers / 6 miles along the course. All checkpoints include shade, water for drinking (normally in a large bottle with a pump) and volunteers and medical staff to check competitors and offer support.

At each checkpoint competitors must:

  • Be checked-in on arrival by the race staff.
  • Leave with the minimum allocation of drinking water for the next section (in general this is 1.5 liters).
  • Listen to and adhere to any instructions given by the race staff. This could be related to anything including adverse weather conditions (strong winds, cold), visibility (rain, fog etc) or anything else.

At each checkpoint competitors can:

  • Rest for a short time and take advantage of the shade the checkpoint tent offers.
  • Seek medical advice and minor treatment if appropriate from the medical doctor stationed at each checkpoint.
  • Ask details about the distance, terrain and elevation of the next section of the course.

Please note that adverse weather conditions, new obstacles or similar can result in changes being made to the course.


The Long March is a stage where competitors complete a longer distance of approximate 80 kilometers / 50 miles which is nearly double the length of the standard stages.

The stage follows the same format as the previous stages, with checkpoints are located every 10kms / 6 miles, however there is a designated "Overnight Checkpoint" where there will usually be tents to rest / sleep in and also hot water available to prepare a hot meal or hot drinks. Competitors may follow highly reflective tape if required to navigate through the night.


A cut-off time is the time by which you must have left a checkpoint.

There are cut-off times for every checkpoint on the course - these are announced in the morning briefing before the start of each Stage. The cut-off times are designed to help you finish, not to stop you from finishing the race.

While the leaders are extremely fast (finishing 40 kilometers / 26 miles in 3 - 4 hours) the cut-off times for the back of the field are designed based on a 4 km per hour / 2.5 miles per hour walking speed. This means completing a 40 kilometer / 26 mile stage in 10 hours.

Cut-off times for the Long March are based on a similar speed but with additional time allowed for a rest at the Overnight Checkpoint.


RacingThePlanet: New Zealand starts on 3 March 2019.It is a 250 kilometer / 155 mile, 6-stage, 7-day, self-supported stage race.

New Zealand is the eleventh location in the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon series which moves to a new location each year. Previous locations included Vietnam, Namibia, Australia, Nepal, Jordan, Iceland, Madagascar, Ecuador, Sri Lanka and Patagonia.

RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019 is a self-supported race; competitors must carry everything they need for the seven days on their back.​

The average backpack will weigh 9 kilograms / 20 pounds.

Approximately 20% of competitors run the entire course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% walk the entire course.​

The fastest completion time is expected to be around 24 hours and the slowest around 70 hours.

Approximately 200 competitors from more than 40 countries are expected to compete in RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019, our 11th RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon.

Roughly 70% of the competitors will be male and 30% female.

There are two host towns for the race. Before the race is Wanaka. After the race is Queenstown. Both Wanaka and Queenstown are close to Queenstown Airport which is a three-hour flight from Sydney, Australia or a two-hour flight from Auckland, New Zealand.

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10 C in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine.​​

Day temperatures in Queenstown, New Zealand average 20°C / 68°F and night temperatures average 9 °C / 48°F in March.

No part of New Zealand is more than 128km (79 miles) from the sea.

Only 5% of New Zealand’s population is human- the rest are animals

Blue Lake, in Nelson Lakes National Park, has the clearest water in the world

There are no land snakes, native or introduced, in New Zealand.

The first man to climb Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, was a Kiwi.

The Māori name for New Zealand, Aoetaroa, means 'land of the long white cloud'.

Lake Taupo was formed by a supervolcanic eruption 26,000 years ago. The dust from the eruption could be seen in modern day China.

15% of New Zealand’s population is Māori.


1: What is RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019?

RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019 is a 250 kilometer / 155 mile, 7-day, 6-stage, self-supported foot race which will take place on the South Island of New Zealand starting on 3 March 2019. RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019 is organised by the 4 Deserts Race Series which is renowned for its annual races: Gobi March (China/Mongolia), Atacama Crossing (Chile), Sahara Race (Egypt/Namibia) and The Last Desert (Antarctica) which have been taking place since 2003. RacingThePlanet: New Zealand is part of the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon series which is an annual race that takes place in a new location each year. The first RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon took place in Vietnam in 2008, followed by Namibia in 2009, Australia in 2010, Nepal in 2011, Jordan in 2012, Iceland in 2013, Madagascar in 2014, Ecuador in 2015, Sri Lanka in 2016 and Patagonia in 2017.

2: What is the format of RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019?

The RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon series, organised by the 4 Deserts Race Series, follow the same format as the prestigious 4 Deserts races. They are 250 kilometer / 155 mile, 7-day, 6-stage endurance footraces through the most stunning and culturally rich places on earth. The events are self-supported which means that competitors must carry all their own equipment and food, but are provided with water and a place in a tent each day and are supported by professional medical and operations teams. The format is very similar to the Tour de France and Dakar Rally, except by foot and self-supported.

3: Why was New Zealand chosen as the location for the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon in 2019?

We always seek to find geographically stunning, diverse, and unspoiled locations that are rich in culture. The South Island of New Zealand fits this profile. Previous RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon locations have included Vietnam, Namibia, Australia, Nepal, Jordan, Iceland, Madagascar, Ecuador, Sri Lanka and Patagonia.

4: Do I have to complete one or more of the 4 Deserts events first?

The RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon series is completely separate to the 4 Deserts, although it is organised by the same company and follows the same format. You do not need to complete a 4 Deserts event in order to take part in RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019, anyone may apply for a place in a 4 Deserts or RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon. However, the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon does not count towards qualification for The Last Desert (Antarctica).

5: Do I need to qualify to take part?

There is no qualification race but you need to prove that you are healthy and fit by submitting a medical form with information on your fitness level, and a doctor's certificate two months before the event.

6: Who typically competes in a 4 Deserts or RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon?

Our competitors are made up of a diverse group of people brought together by one common goal: to complete the 250 kilometers / 155 miles of the race. They are typically high achievers who believe in maximizing every opportunity in life. Many are working professionals who often work full time, some have families, and many do a lot of community service -- all lead a healthy lifestyle. The range of professions of our competitors includes medical doctors, professors, investment bankers, small business owners, actors/actresses, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms and dads, journalists, students, top athletes and coaches, military personnel and managers. We have many father/son, father/daughter, mother/son, husband/wife and brother/sister competitors. The events are international with approximately 40 countries represented in each event. Typically, 25% of the competitors are women, and 75% percent men. We have also had many blind competitors and even an amputee.

7: How much time do I need to complete the race?

You need to reserve 9 days for the event, plus traveling time to the host town / city. You should arrive 2 days before the start of the event and are free to leave any time after the event finishes but make sure not to miss the fun part, the awards banquet. Have a look at the full itinerary.

8: I don't think I can run 250 kilometers / 155 miles, can I still make the cut-off times?

The event is set up to allow for generous cut-off times. Approximately 20% of competitors will run most of the course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% will walk the entire course. If you can complete in 40 kilometers / 25 miles in 8-10 hours then you will be able to meet the cut-off times.

9: How much training is required?

Our competitors are busy people - we don't expect them to train all the time, but a minimum amount of training is expected. Many complete the event with minimal training, some want to win and thus train a lot. Each competitor has his or her own goal. We simply want people to finish.

10: How far in advance do I need to sign up?

The 4 Deserts and RacingThePlanet Ultramarathons are very popular - some of the races sell out more than one year in advance. We recommend that prospective competitors complete an online registration as early as possible. Places are confirmed upon receipt of the deposit payment. The number of competitors for each event is limited to 150 - 200 competitors depending on the event. Once the event is full, all new applications will be put on the waiting list.


Competitors are required to carry mandatory equipment items during the week of the race. Mandatory equipment will be reviewed at Competitor Check-In at the host hotel and on the course during the week of the race. Failure to have an item will result in a penalty or not being able to start / continue the race.

Download the Equipment List to make sure that you know what is required for each mandatory equipment item. You can also review the photos and descriptions of each item below. All items are available at our online store.

Behind The Scenes Show All   |   Hide All

Live Media Coverage

There is a fast growing global community interested in the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon series - not only friends, family, supporters and former competitors, but also a fanbase of people inspired by the dream of one day competing. To keep up with the demands of this expanding community, we are constantly developing our media capabilities.

The RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon staff use a combination of satellite and mobile communications to distribute content from the races to our website and to broadcasters around the world. During each stage of the race we post hourly updates to the website about race leaders and individual competitors. We also post daily video highlights captured of staff, volunteers and competitors.  Social media sites updated include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

At least 150 photographs are uploaded daily from the race capturing the locations, highlights and spirit of the event. Daily videos are uploaded as well. We also distribute daily features about competitors and the locations as well as stage updates on the race website. Overall positions and timings are logged on the website as soon as possible after the last competitor crosses the finish line of each stage.

Valued Volunteers

RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019 will have many world class volunteers and medical staff that support competitors during the event. These volunteers and medical staff are carefully selected from around the world to ensure a variety of nationalities, language abilities, fitness levels and general experiences working in harsh conditions. Approximately five applications are received for every available volunteer position.

Footprints Only

Catering to the needs of the competitors in RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019 and making sure that we leave no trace of our presence is an important part of putting on the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon. Fortunately, our competitors are overwhelmingly attentive to this matter and make this task as easy for us as possible. We institute a system of time penalties for any competitor seen littering. Sweepers also follow behind the final competitors removing course markers and remaining litter from the ground. This is the best way to protect the unique landscape and precious wildlife.

Life Around the Campfire

The campfire is an integral part of the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon. Nurtured and tended by our local staff, who keep a constant kettle of water boiling, the fire could be counted as the greatest luxury. After a hard day in the wilderness, there is nothing quite like the camaraderie and comfort provided by the fire. An opportunity to meet fellow competitors, swap tips, marvel at some of the ingenious meals being prepared and ease sore limbs. Before competitors awake in the morning the fire is rekindled and the kettle boiled for breakfast - a blissful cup of tea or coffee and a bowl of porridge are perennial favourites to savour as the sun rises.

Pink Flags

A course team works around the clock to mark the 250-kilometer course, employing small pink flags and large handmade checkpoint flags to make the course as visible as possible. At night, reflective tape and bright green glow sticks are used as back up markers. The materials for the flags are imported from the United States. The large flags that are placed before each checkpoint are handmade by a famous sailmaker in Hong Kong.


Checkpoints are spaced at approximately 10 kilometer intervals, with the final checkpoint of the day being the finish line and campsite. At each checkpoint, competitors are supplied with 1.5 litres of water, shade, a place to rest and encouragement for the next section ahead by staff and volunteers.  Checkpoints are staffed by at least one member of the management team, volunteers and a medical doctor. The checkpoints are fully dismantled once all competitors and the team of sweepers have passed. No trace of the checkpoints will be left behind.