The Course

Tarawera Ultramarathon Course


102km course. Rotorua to Kawerau.  + 2755 metres vertical gain   – 3055 metres vertical loss.  Download .GPX file  | download .kml file 
87km course. Rotorua to Kawerau.   + 2297 metres vertical gain   – 2595 metres vertical loss.
62km course. Rotorua to Tarawera Falls. + 2043 metres vertical gain   – 2177 metres vertical loss.
Relays. 85km course. 2 or 4 person teams.

General type:  Low elevation, single tracks (trails) and wide trails through forests, narrow forestry roads, wide forestry roads and some sealed road.  Gentle hills, short, steep hills, flat sections. Very few stairs.

Aid station locations, cutoff times, expected arrival times (first and last runner) are here.

Course Markings

For the event, the course will be marked with red directional arrows on a white background ‘→’, and pink+orange flagging tape. There will also be reflective tape and glowsticks on night time sections. You need to pay attention, especially at night, to follow these course markings. You do not need to navigate your way along the course with a map and compass. A final map of the course and course description will be provided to you at event registration and in your race packs.


The course in sections

Start to Blue Lake
The start is a slight uphill before a flat section through Redwoods to the ‘Tank to Town’ track climb and up over the hill to the water-tank. Detail of the first few km are shown at left. Following the tank, you climb up the long (but runnable) Direct Road and return Hill Road (steepish). There’s some flattish smooth forestry road and single trail before you hit Blue Lake. Just before Blue Lake you run through dense native bush on narrow single track and then on a grassy slope in front of spectators and supporters.  You run 7/8th’s of the way around Blue Lake on well-formed walking tracks, passing the Blue Lake aid station at 16.4km

Distances:  0 to 16.4km
 Trails and forestry roads through planted forests, native forests. 
  One long, mostly moderate, short
Roots and rocks: Virtually nil.
Type: Single track trail  40%  | Wide trails 30% | Forestry road 30% |
Vegetation: Native Forest 20 % |  Pine forests 80%
Stairs: One set – short-uphill.
Recommended shoes: Trail or Road.
Surface: Free draining volcanic soil, no mud.


Blue Lake to Okataina

Leaving Blue Lake, the route to Okareka is through very narrow technical single track (Tennent’s Track – the most technical part of the course). In Okareka Village (and little beyond) it is sealed but there’s pretty interesting landscape and houses so it’s not boring.

After leaving the Okareka village and the lakeside, this section starts with some gradual uphill on Miller Road to the aid station. The Western Okataina Walkway is a series of long gentle ups followed by shorter downs through native forest and open clearings. These uphills are pretty runnable. There is a short flat section at the top of the climb near the trig turn-off at the top (you stay on the Western Okataina Walkway). From there it is a steep downhill to Okataina. This track is technical in sections, with a few roots – but mainly uneven ground and ruts in the middle of the tracks.

Distances:  16.4km to 39.4km
Fastest known time: New in 2016

Wide trails through forests, some sealed road and gravel road through farmland.
 moderate, long
Roots and rocks: Very rooty for a short section immediately after leaving Blue Lake aid station. Generally few – mainly tree roots on the top of the Western Okataina Walkway.
Type: Single track trail  25%  | Wide trails 60% |  Sealed / Gravel Road 15%
Vegetation: Native Forest 85 % |  Pine forests 0% | Farms 15%
Stairs: None
Recommended shoes: Trail or Road.
Surface: Free draining volcanic soil, no mud.


Okataina to Tarawera Falls (also 62k finish)
This is the toughest leg. It starts off OK, with the Eastern Okataina Track throwing some short steep uphills and gentler downs. It’s all in the bush so you need to be nimble. There are some nice views of the lake in places. The short track over the saddle between lake Okataina and Tarawera is smooth and easy. The Northern Tarawera Track is tougher. There’s zero net elevation gain/loss but the overgrown nature of the track and abundance of roots make this section tougher than most bargain on. You will need trail running skills to negotiate this well. Nice views of the lake and Mt. Tarawera in places.

Psychologically, The Outlet is the turning point for the entire race. You change direction and the running becomes easier. You’ll be well-rewarded for the tougher Northern Tarawera Track with the best section of the course. The Tarawera Falls Track is once of the nicest walks in NZ with a smooth track, net downhill and river flowing (plus cascades) next to you the whole way.

Distances:  39.4km to 62.7km
Fastest known time:
 Trails through native forests, some very twisty and turny. 
 moderate, short, some very steep and short.
Roots and rocks: moderately, some rocks.
Type: Single track trail  100%
Vegetation: Native Forest 100 %
Stairs: One set – moderate-uphill.
Recommended shoes: Trail or Road.
Surface: Free draining volcanic soil, no mud.

Tarawera Falls to Finish
About 400 metres past the Tarawera Falls Aid station, you’ll turn right down an unmarked forestry road. Taking the first right (again – another no-name road), there’s a long gradual uphill to a point where you’ll cross over Tarawera Road to Titoki Road. Once on Titoki Road – there is a net gentle downhill all the way to the Titoki aid station at the end.

The Aid Station is where Titoki meets Edwards Road & there is a major intersection. 87km runners turn left. It is 1km to the river and you essentially follow the river along River Road from here to the finish (passing the Fisherman’s Bridge and River Road Aid Stations along the way).

The River Road section is simply beautiful running on a deserted forestry road next to the river. The new lower Tarawera River Track will take you alongside the river almost the entire way to Kawerau.

For 102km runners. You’ll turn right (at Titoki & Edwards) and then left down Puhi Puhi Road. This is a nice quiet road with good tree cover. There are rolling climbs to the Awaroa Road Aid station. At Awaroa Road you’ll do a loop of just over 5km that takes in a grunty steep (arse-biting steep) uphill and a long-sweeping downhill (with nice views). From Awaroa, you’ll continue a net downhill along Puhipuhi until the Mangawhio turnoff. Mangawhio is a tree-lined forestry road (again mostly all downhill) that will take you all the way to the Fisherman’s Bridge (on your left) where you’ll join the 87km runners. note: The Awaroa loop and surrounding areas are exposed. If it’s a hot day – be prepared.

Distances:   62.7km to 102.8km
Fastest known time:
General: S
mall forestry roads through pine forests, some more open roads, single track trails near Kawerau. 
 moderate, some long climbs and gentle rollers, long slow gradual downhills.
Roots and rocks: None.
Type: Forestry Roads 90% | Single track trail 10%
Vegetation: Pine forest 90 %  | Manuka and planted river banks 10%
Stairs: One set – extremely steep uphill and downhill on Pipe bridge.
Recommended shoes: Road
Surface: Free draining volcanic ash, no mud.