Gearing up to the race: What to bring to Rotorua for the Tarawera Ultramarathon

It’s time. You’ve done the training and you’re ready to race your heart out (of course you are). But first, you’ve got a journey to the Rotorua, a town that is already either one of your favourite adventure destinations or will become very soon, if it’s the first time you’re visiting.

Dust off the big duffel bag or your ol’ faithful suitcase, let’s get packing. With so much going on during race week, it’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed about what to bring. First of all, do not worry if you forget anything: Rotorua is the adventure capital of the Milky Way so there’s nothing you can’t find here – especially while our race expo is on as our sponsors will have their best products available to you right there.

Our sponsors at the Expo include:| Icebreaker | Garmin | Ultimate DirectionHoka One One | Julbo | Tailwind Nutrition | Buff 

In any case, we have compiled a checklist of all the essential items you must bring to Rotorua.

EVERYONE: If (see below) we require compulsory gear in the race (for 1o0 milers, it is mandatory anyway), we will inspect your gear…
– At athlete check-in before you pick up your race pack. If you do not have the gear or it fails inspection, you will need to remedy this in order to race.
– On the course during the race. If you do not have the full list of correct gear, you will be disqualified mid-race.

All 20k, 50k 102k runners and walkers.
THE MUST HAVES – (Potentially) Mandatory gear

By Wednesday lunchtime of race week, we will update you on what compulsory gear will be required (list A B or Ce, below), as we get more accurate weather forecasts for the area on race day. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook Page as we will let you know as soon as we know.

If there is little risk of bad weather, the most likely Compulsory Gear list will be A.

There are three compulsory gear levels for the 20, 50 and  102km courses:
– A. No compulsory equipment
– B. Waterproof jacket (seam-sealed + hooded).
– C. Base layer long top wool/polypropylene, base layer long pants wool/polypropylene, waterproof jacket (seam-sealed + hooded), thermal hat (Buff accepted), thermal gloves.



For the 100 Mile Endurance Run runners AND their pacers – compulsory gear is (each must have all of the following):

– Headlamp (check the batteries!). Headlamp must be carried at all times.
– Base layer long top wool/polypropylene
– Base layer long pants wool/polypropylene
– Thermal hat (Buff accepted)
– Thermal gloves
– Waterproof jacket (seam-sealed)
– Survival bag – not a survival blanket* (available at Bivouac and other camping/outdoor stores)
– 2 metres of self-adhesive bandage
– Mobile phone – charged in a waterproof container

THE SHOULD HAVES – Other items you should consider packing


That sun sure can be hot middle of the day – a cap you can bung in your pack or tie on and doesn’t flap about or add much weight can be a godsend.


Whether or not the essential gear list comes into effect, a Buff is a really good item for any athlete to carry as it is probably one of the most versatile pieces of trail gear out there. Wear it around the wrist or neck to combat sweat/sun glare/cold at night/etc.


Not essential for Tarawera (there’s no scree and thanks to dozens of volunteers also well-groomed tracks most of the time!) but a lot of people still think they are vital gear so, if that’s you, don’t forget to add them in.

Compression gear (socks, tights and/or sleeves)

Great piece of gear, especially in the later stages of the race when cramps can set in.

Hydration pack/bottles

It’s time to check the gear you have. Can your pack fit all your gear (especially the compulsory stuff)? Is your hydration bladder ok? Do your bottles need replacing? It’s time to do a pack review and rush out for any last-minute replacement bits if needed. Ultimate Direction will have some sweet hydration packs and bottles at the Expo.


THE NICE TO HAVES – Totally optional items that might help

GPS watch

Bring your Garmin! You’ve been training with this in the mode you’ll use on race day, right? Good because now’s really not the time to customise those screens endlessly. Or maybe that’s your weird way of coping with race week nerves. Sure, you do you. Just make sure you bring your charger!

Additionally, we recommend you turn it on in Rotorua to find satellites the day before the race – tuning a GPS watch on as the crowd dashes off from you at the start line is a sure fire way of stressing out on the day.


This really depends on how susceptible you are to the sun but you might want to consider applying some sunscreen on your shoulders and back of the neck. There are quite a few exposed areas out there on the course so pays to think ahead.

Glide (or your lube of choice, we don’t judge)

Really get that stuff everywhere as nothing is more annoying than salty sweat on chaffed areas.

Medical needs

Need an inhaler or an antihistamine? Make sure you carry it! You are going to be far from immediate help so be as self-sufficient as you can.


Tarawera is renowned as being one of the best-catered races out there but if you’ve got some stuff you just LOVE to have while running, consider bringing it with you. Also, we recommend your race day nutrition mirrors what you’ve been doing during training. This is not the day to get adventurous with your food choices!

S-Caps/salt tabs/salt caps/ endurolytes – Some love them, some can easily do without them. Salt caps can help get the body balanced between water intake and salt intake. If that’s the case for you, consider packing some.

Tailwind Nutrition

Tailwind gets those vital nutrients and minerals back into you so it probably should actually be up in the “should haves” section. Don’t worry if you forget or don’t bring enough: the Tailwind team will be at the expo and you’ll be able to purchase it there.


If it’s sunny out there, and there’s always the chance it will be despite last year’s ridiculous storm, then make sure you’ve got your quality eyewear sorted for the trails! Julbo will be at the expo to guide you through what works – take advantage of the chance to get some serious gear for your most important trail running asset – being able to see them gnarly roots on Okataina!


Whatever else might help you when all else fails

What will make you feel better? The thought of a meat pie and a can of coke right after you cross that finish line? Well, pack those in a drop bag because the thought of them could just be the thing that keeps you going.

Think beyond the finish line (maybe just a few metres beyond). You’ll need warmer clothes, perhaps a hoodie and a pair of track pants. Clean socks? Pack ‘em. A recording of your pet wagging its tail at you? Whatever gets you through.


Back To Blog