mount-ruapehu-hike-jono-lester

Hiking 40km from Whakapapa to Okahune

I love getting outdoors and being active. It’s been a staple of my life since I started taking my racing seriously in my early teens, and when it comes to training there’s no better place in the world to do so (in my opinion at least) than my native New Zealand.

I still live in NZ – I always have. It’s assumed that because of all the international racing I do, I’m based in Asia or somewhere overseas, but instead I take the long commute to and from each event which gives me ample time between races to get out and explore my Kiwi back yard.

Usually, I do so with my best mate Sam. We love to hike, and have been getting out around Mount Ruapehu in particular for more than a decade now. First, it was to do the Tongariro Crossing in as quick a time as possible, but this proved to be not much of a challenge as we grew old and our appetites for adventure waned.

Recently, I found the best trail yet where Sam and I set out before sunrise on an ambitious (okay, overly-ambitious!) mission from Whakapapa to Turoa skifield…and back. All in a single day.

We realised about 15km in, as we were scaling rock faces and waterfalls with no track and sparse direction markers, that we might have bitten off more than we could chew!

By the time we’d reached the mountain road, and taken in some truly breathtaking scenery, we’d clocked up over 24km on foot. We’d also run out of food and water, so turning back and doing it all over again – including the 1,500m of ascent along the way – wasn’t really an option.

We took the mountain road down to Ohakune, notching up a mammoth 40km for the day before finishing at Opus Fresh – an ethical merino clothing brand based at the old train station who provided us with the warm kit required to negotiate the sub-zero morning temperatures on our adventure.

Take a look at the gallery, videos and our hiking route above and below. Feel free to drop me a message if you’d like to give it a try for yourself, and I can give you more details!

If you’re on Strava, get over and give me a follow to check out this and other adventures I get up to on and off the race track!

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