Posted By QEII National Trust | June 14, 2024

Trail running has become a popular form of exercise as well as a great way to engage with the beauty of the outdoors in Aotearoa. Some trail running event organisers are going the extra mile and combining their events with fundraising for conservation.

Two recent trail running events, Skedaddle Run for Nature in Canterbury and Gearshop Bay Ultra in Nelson, have put some great work into raising funds for nature alongside putting on a fantastic run for participants.

Gearshop Bay Ultra – Nelson

Held just outside Nelson at the Cable Bay Adventure Park, the Gearshop Bay Trail Run was an epic event consisting of some both stunning and challenging 55-km, 34-km, 24-km and 10-km courses that showcased the five QEII covenants in the area including a Restoration Agreement that protects the restoration planting and cycleway on the banks of the Wakapuaka River.

Runners follow a track through a restoration area at Cable Bay, Nelson

After a misty and drizzly early start for the 55-km and 34-km runners, entrants were treated to a sunny Nelson day. Runners traversed a mix of the Cableway Walkway and private land in the area and conquered some challenging hill climbs, rugged coastal farmland, and were rewarded by breathtaking views over the surrounding bays.

Covenants traversed during the course protect a total of 265.5 ha, which include a mosaic of semicoastal modified primary beech/podocarp forest, modified secondary kānuka scrub and modified secondary kānuka-māhoe forest. The covenants are home to bellbird, mātātā/fernbird, kārearea/NZ falcon, weka, riroriro/grey warblers, kererū/wood pigeon, tūī, miromiro/tomtit, pīwakawaka/fantail and tauhau/waxeye. These protected areas also protect the habitat of at risk and threatened plant species such as rōhutu (Threatened – Nationally Critical) and rātā/Metrosideros colensoi (Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable).

View over bush-covered hills and farmland
View over covenanted area at Cable Bay. Photo credit: Clare Moore
Looking through the understory of forest in a Cable Bay covenant
Cable Bay QEII open space covenant. Photo credit: Clare Moore

The event was supported by Gearshop, Cable Bay Adventure Park, Athletics Nelson, Waimea Harriers, Tailwind, La Sportiva, Proper Crisps, Speedplay Coaching, NBS, Nelmac, the Nelson City Council and the Nelson Airport. and will be put towards establishing more open space covenants across New Zealand. QEII would like to extend a big thanks to Pete Marshall, the bay trail run team, sponsors and the 240 entrants for the donation to QEII.

This event is also planned for next year so keep an eye on the Gearshop Ultra website to get involved.

Skedaddle Run for Nature – Canterbury

Trail runners running along a four-wheel-drive track through tussockland with mountains and forested hills in the background
Runners crossing the dramatic landscape at Island Hills Station. Photo credit: Dom Blissett

For a second year, runners turned out in their droves to test their legs on the tracks of Island Hills Station for the Skedaddle Run for Nature event in Canterbury.

Five race distances were on offer including the 4-km Kids Weaning Muster, 10-km Humble Dove, Solar Power NZ 15-km Dozer Line, 30-km Wilderbeast and 42-km Two Tunner. Each course was designed to showcase the beauty of the natural landscape with an abundance of challenging single-track running trails. The trails include plenty of elevation to provide spectacular views for competitors including vistas towards Mt Skedaddle, the highest peak on the property for which the race is named.

The Skedaddle race trails keeping runners on their toes. Photo credit: Dom Blissett

The race was established by Island Hills Station walking track manager Shaun is hugely passionate about the conservation efforts on the property and loves to showcase and educate visitors to Island Hills on the importance of protecting the land and its inhabitants. “To have so many people come and enjoy Island Hills and experience all of our tracks is incredible. We have stunning bush and mountain country to explore in our conservation park and the event raises money to assist with our pest control programme.”

Island Hills Station has one of the largest QEII open space covenants in Canterbury. Just an hour and a half from Christchurch and 20 minutes from the historic Hurunui Hotel, the station hosts guests on a private tramping trail and is home to species such as kea (Threatened – Nationally Endangered) and kārearea (At Risk – Recovering).

Runner James Millar crosses the finish line of the Skedaddle Run for Nature, holding the finish line ribbon
Crossing the finish line. Photo credit: Jack Prebble
Entrant Emma Timmis shakes hands at the end of the Skedaddle Run
Photo credit: Jack Prebble

Plans are already underway for next year’s event which will take place on Saturday 26 April 2025 to coincide with the long ANZAC weekend. Check the Skedaddle website for more information.