Torpedo7 Spring Challenge brings women's adventure racing to Auckland

By Spring Challenge

The Torpedo7 Spring Challenge women’s adventure race is coming to Auckland in October and hopes to encourage the gym bunnies out of the gym and the yummy mummies out of the Remuera cafes.

A tough task some may say but if anyone is capable of running what is essentially a wilderness event – involving rafting, navigation, mountain biking and hiking - in the city, it is five-time Adventure Racing World Champion Nathan Fa’avae. His hugely popular annual Spring Challenge events have achieved ‘must do’ status in the South Island, so the challenge-seeking race director thought why not bring adventure to an urban environment?

But where on earth can you raft in Auckland, the critics scoff?  At the Vector Wero white water park in Manukau, that’s where!

“When I first heard there was going to be a white water park built in New Zealand, I wondered if there would be the potential to run an adventure race out of it. Once it had been built in Manukau I talked to its general manager Ian [Ferguson, Olympic kayak legend] about running a Spring Challenge there and he was super supportive,” Nathan says.

Spring Challenge Auckland will be the first time in the world an adventure race has been held on an artificial whitewater facility.

“It has enabled us to design an adventure race extremely close to a major city and in the hub of Manukau City,” Nathan explains.

It is also the first time he has released a major part of the course prior to the event, as typically the river used for the Spring Challenge is kept a secret until the evening before the event. For the Auckland race however, the organisers believe Vector Wero is a major draw card that shouldn’t be missed and it has allowed them to build an exceptionally unique women’s event around it.

After the raft, the rest of the course remains undisclosed until event day but the biking/walking/running/navigation is set at achievable levels with beginner, intermediate and advanced options for teams.

Five-time Adventure Racing World Champion Nathan Fa’avae (left) and Vector Wero white water park General Manager Ian Ferguson are excited about running the rafting stage of the Spring Challenge Auckland women’s adventure race at the Manukau facility.

Ian is excited about hosting the rafting discipline at Wero and believes that being able to have a go at rafting before the race will help to break down any barriers some women may have about this water sport.

“Using Vector Wero means contestants get the very best white water action on this amazing river but with none of the dangers of natural rivers. Vector Wero is a purpose-built water adventure facility and we strive to provide safe, fun and rewarding experiences for all abilities, from first timers through to Olympic level athletes. 

“This is urban rafting, fun, fast, furious, and will provide for those who want it - action-packed, adrenaline-driven racing. Hosting the Spring Challenge is a valuable opportunity for Vector Wero to be enjoyed by another large user group of people, including their friends and families. We’re sure it’s going to be a great success,” Ian says.

Having a facility like Wero available enables New Zealand’s biggest population base of women to experience the great outdoors in their own backyard. Come October 14, 240 teams of three women will raft, mountain bike and hike their way around three-hour, six-hour and nine-hour courses.

In a deviation from the usual Spring Challenge format, teams will not be required to supply a support crew to move their gear around the transition areas. The race organisers will co-ordinate the logistics.
“The Spring Challenge in Auckland will probably be the most accessible, best-suited introduction to adventure racing there’s ever been,” Nathan says.

He is enthusiastic about the course, which he describes as “a fusion between outdoor adventure sport and the urban environment.”

“Contrary to people’s perceptions about Auckland, you don’t have to go far and you really feel like you are in remote areas. Without wanting to give the course away, we have a really cool mix of terrain, from coastal to almost jungle-like areas,” he says.

Nathan and his wife Jodie, who has helped run the 10 super-successful Spring Challenges in the South Island, have had plenty of practice putting on races that help empower teams of women as they achieve their adventure goals.

Last year’s Spring Challenge Golden Bay closed entries at 450 teams, making it the biggest adventure race in the world. This year’s Geraldine edition (September 30) is expected to sell out within hours.

Entries for the Spring Challenge North Island and Spring Challenge South Island both open at 7am on Saturday, April 1 online at

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