Aussie 8 Team Prepares to Take on the New Zealand 9

Te Wahipounamu Fiordland National Park Milford Track river Arthur Getty Images

Remember the Aussie 8 expedition that we followed last year? That was the project that sent three men – Ben Southall, Luke Edwards and Pat Kinsella – off on an insane adventure in which they attempted to to climb the highest peak in each of the eight Australian states in just eight days. Ultimately, they were able to complete that quest, trail running to the summits, and jet setting across the continent, while setting a new world record in the process. Now, that same team is gearing up for yet another expedition, and this time it is going to be even more challenging than the last.

Ben, Luke and Pat have just announced their New Zealand 9 project, during which they will attempt to trail run and paddle each of the nine great walks in New Zealand in just nine days. Those walks include the Kepler Track (60km/37.2 mile run), Milford Track (53.3km/33.1 mile run), Routeburn Track (32km/19.8 mile run), Rakiura Track (32km/19.8 mile run), Waikaremoana Track (46km/28.5 mile run), Tongariro Circuit (43.1km/26.8 mile run), Whanganui Journey (145km/90 mile paddle), Abel Tasman Coast Track (54.4km/33.8 mile run), and the Heaphy Track (78.4km/48.7 mile run).

Boiling this down to raw numbers, this means the boys will have to cover approximately 545 km (338.6 miles), across some of the most difficult and demanding terrain on the planet, in nine days. As you can see in the plan listed above, most of that time will be spent on foot, trail running along trekking routes that traditionally take 3-5 days each to complete. They will paddle the Whanganui Journey, but covering 145 km (90 miles) in a kayak on a single day will be physically demanding as well. I’m told that they had originally planned to mountain bike the Heaphy Track, but riding isn’t allowed there in November, when they plan to launch the expedition, so the trio of adventurers will just have to run that one too.

The Aussie 8 expedition pushed this team to their limits, and they’ll need to be even more well prepared for this adventure. New Zealand’s rugged trails are as beautiful as they come, but they can also be harsh and unforgiving. The weather there is very unpredictable as well, which gives the entire project an element of the unknown that simply can’t be accounted for. Ben, Luke, and Pat relish in that challenge however, and they’re looking to not just complete this adventure, but inspire others to get outside, explore the wonderful environments close to them, and seek adventures of their own.

When they get underway in November, they’ll be trailed by a documentary film crew, and a team of journalists that will chronicle every challenge they face out on the trail. Of course, I’ll be following this one closely as well, as it promises to be quite the undertaking for this team once again.

Kraig Becker

8 thoughts on “Aussie 8 Team Prepares to Take on the New Zealand 9”

  1. its hardly some of the most demanding terrain on the planet. i've done them.
    those walks are basically footpaths. easy running trails. with hills in them. steep slopes are all evened out by benched tracks. they are some of the easiest multi day walks in NZ.. biggest issue is the weather… all water courses are bridged….
    so who's using the term "some of the hardest terrain on the planet?"

  2. So, in summary, Wayne, it hasn't actually been done before has it? Mal is an absolute legend, and we are chatting to him and learning a massive amount from his epic effort, but he did 7 of the Great Walks in 7 days, not 9 in 9.
    Granted, we're talking about formed trails here, but the challenge is in the distance combined with the terrain and the target time frame – inevitably we'll be tackling a fair percentage of the distance in the dark, when the terrain will become a whole lot harder. Not claiming to be climbing the Eiger, just setting out to have a crack at a reasonably tough challenge, which may or may not even be do-able – that's the adventure.

  3. I second Wayne. I've done 5 of them and it's not the most demanding terrain as mainly on paths. Go 50m away from the path and yeah you'll get some seriously off track walking (when possible, sometimes you crawl).

    I second Pat's answer too. The challenge is running each of them one after another. Makes it hard mentally and physically and even very dangerous as it will be easy to get injured with broken ankles, legs or falling on boulders when tired.
    And yes, in the dark it will be hard too.
    Good luck Pat! I'll follow.

    What will be next Pat? Larapinta trail in 4 days? (I'd love to see records on the Larapinta as it's not much weather dependent so records can be done in more or less same conditions all the time/except for extreme heat)

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