Trail Running

Trail running is not only a great way to see New Zealand’s outdoors, it is an enjoyable activity that demands physical performance, mental agility, fortitude and perseverance. It is also a pursuit that frequently exposes runners to risk. While the risks are inherent in trail running, they can easily be reduced through careful planning and good decision making.

Watch and learn what to pack for a trail run

Choose Your Track

Tracks here can differ dramatically and will require different levels of fitness, equipment and planning. It's important to recognise that the perceived risk of a day walk can be very low, where as the potential risk can be surprisingly high. 

  • Consider your ability, skills and fitness
  • Think about how long it will take you
  • How will you get there?
  • How will help find you if something goes wrong? Will there be cellphone signal?
  • What is the terrain like? Will there be rivers/bridges? Will the terrain be slippery/steep?

You can find out more about how to choose a track on our Trip Planning Section of our website. Excellent sources for local track information are DOC Visitor Centres and I-sites.

Prepare For Your Run

Your feet can take you out of civilisation, but it will be your planning and stamina that will get you home safe. Take steps to prevent an injury or getting lost in New Zealand's outdoors.

Get Yourself Ready

  • Start small - if you are new to the sport, it pays to do short routes nearby with easier terrain and build up the strength and stamina required for a bigger trip
  • Get advice - talk to others with more experience or consider coaching to develop a running style and posture
  • Run with others - you can learn from each other and be there if something went wrong. A solo trip is a massive undertaking
  • Warm up - help get your body to get ready to the challenge ahead
  • Fuel up - have a decent meal before your run a few hours before you head off. Read more about how to manage your nutrition and hydration in our activity guide or talk to experienced runners.


Take the Basics to Keep you Comfortable and Safe

What you take with you will make all the difference if something were to go wrong such as getting lost, delayed or injured.

Trail Running Essentials:
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Headtorch
  • Cellphone or Emergency Communications device
  • Warm Clothing (Not Cotton)
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Water and Food
  • Map and compass or GPS
  • Small survival kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sun Protection
  • Toilet paper
  • Gaiters
  • Packliner/survival bag

pdf Basic Gear List for outdoors pdf – 207 KB

or you can find more on our Supplies section.

On Your Run

  • Be aware of the weather - you can learn how to do this on our weather page
  • Pace yourself - help yourself last the distance and conserve energy for the return trip. Take short regular breaks to hydrate and refuel.
  • Watch your step - don't take unnecessary risks and be careful with your footing to avoid injury
  • Stick together - try to stay within sight of each other, wait for each other at track junctions and communicate along the way. Put the most experienced person at the back of your group.
  • Stay alert - are you running late? When will it get dark? Do you know where you are on the track?
  • Avoid crossing rivers - if you are not experienced, choose a track that have bridges. If circumstances change, you can always turn back.
  • Manage your body heat - start with more layers on and take them off as you warm up. Put on layers if you stop for a longer rest.

What to Do Next

Continue your preparation with our online resources, there is still plenty to learn to ensure for a safe and enjoyable trip!

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