Newsletter 1 – Chapter 1

A massive thanks to all of you for supporting Chapter 1 of GODZONE Australia which, is hosted by Coffs Coast and the wider district. This Newsletter provides you with specific information about the event and will help you prepare. Further information will be provided in Newsletter 2 (released June 30th, 2023). A final Newsletter 3 will be released a month before the race starts on August 16th to ensure that you are as ready as you can be for this mammoth expedition race. If you or your team mates, friends, family or supporters wish to keep up to date with developments then please remember to visit or like our Facebook and Instagram pages. If this Newsletter raises any questions or, if you are uncertain about any aspect of the event, please get in touch with us via the Contact Us page. We look forward to seeing you later in 2023 for the very first GODZONE outside of New Zealand.

- Rob Preston (Event Director)


Welcome to all our signed up teams to GODZONE Australia. We are very excited to present the first GODZONE event outside New Zealand, and to share the event with a whole new host of competitors, sponsors, volunteers and spectators. GODZONE has delivered the highest level events for over a decade now, not only for participants, but also taking the online coverage to new levels allowing your family and friends to share the adventure with you.

The northern NSW coast has been host to many events over the last 20 years. Most racers probably have memories of lantana infested state forest, poor quality maps, and exhilarating surf breaks.

While the course will start and finish on the coast, there is so much good terrain that can be reached when you have 5 days (or 8 days for some teams) to explore further into the hinterland, and the tablelands beyond. The variety of this course will far exceed any other Adventure Race held on the NSW Coast, if not anywhere in the world. Laid on top of that variety will be a strong navigational element which, will keep teams focused on the smartest way to travel through the diverse landscapes. GODZONE strongly believes that an expedition race should be a balance between brains and brawn; where strategy and navigational choices play an equally important role as speed and strength to achieve a successful outcome.

If you have jumped in the deep end and signed up for Chapter 1 already, then we thank you for your support. You’re in for one epic adventure and we can’t wait to showcase the Aussie backcountry through our legendary Live Coverage platform later in the year.

If you are still considering your options, then let us remind you there is only one Chapter 1, and this is your chance to get in on the ground floor for an Adventure Like No Other. You do not need to have a full team roster to register. There is still plenty of time to create your team of champions (or champion team) after you have secured your entry. For those who have been considering the impact of having a support crew, please note the changes to the support crew requirements outlined below. It might make your decision a little easier.


We know that committing to a race is hard, especially when the blisters are still healing from your last event. But to allow the teams who just competed at GODZONE New Zealand – Chapter 11 the chance to experience two GODZONE events in one year, we have extended the Early Bird pricing until midnight 23rd April, 2023. This will also assist those teams who have been waiting to secure a support crew before committing.

But don’t wait too long, we have limited entries and expect to reach the cap prior to the entry deadline on July 13th.

Important – GZ Pure race support crew changes

We have some pretty big news, GZ Pure teams are no longer required to bring a support crew to Chapter 1. The implications of this change are explained in further detail later in this newsletter. If that was your excuse for not signing up, then you will have to think of some other excuse – sore toe, washing your hair, doing your tax? All these are equally lame so just hit the enter now button and make it a problem for your future self. The GZ Pursuit race will remain supported (ie, teams still need to bring a small support crew to Chapter 1). On this final point, teams should not stress about having a large support crew. Team Avaya have won the last three GODZONE events in New Zealand with just one person doing support crew duties. Simple solutions are usually the most efficient and speediest. Either way, make the most of this change and rest assured it will be a massive adventure either way.

General Housekeeping

None of us like admin and we would all rather be riding our bike, paddling or trekking in the bush. However, some things must be done so, check out the general housekeeping items below to ensure that your run into the event is as stress free and smooth as possible. We encourage all teams (and in particular, team captains and/or administrators) to ‘action’ any items that require some form of input, in a timely fashion – it will help ensure that you have the best possible event experience.


Your Team Captain/Administrator would have received an automated email after registration for the event with login information for the team website – https://godzoneaustralia.com/enter/team-login/. Please update the database with each team members details. This will allow our staff to know exactly who is in your team, and prevent them from getting asked by other prospective teams sniffing around for a better navigator.

Team Finder

A reminder to all teams administrators and/or captains that you can Sign Up your team to the Team Finder page, if you are looking to fill a position in your team. You can also look for replacements at the Team Finder Search page. Injuries, substitutions and last minute replacements are commonplace in expedition events and this feature may help you link up with that person you’ve been waiting for all your life (or, at least since you realised that your navigator was utterly out of their depth).

Race Apparel

To ensure you get the correct sized race top, please update your team member information (where you can select your size). Please note that the deadline for correct sizing selection is the 7th of July. All GODZONE tops are specially produced and printed and there is currently a long lead in time for production and delivery. Failure to meet the above order deadline means that we will not be able to guarantee a particular fitting.


GODZONE Australia is always looking for sponsorship opportunities as well as media coverage. If you or you know someone who would like further information on our event please contact us at info@godzoneaustralia.com. Or get in touch with us via the Contact Us page.


At this time, the GZ Pure course will be around 600km in length. The GZ Pursuit course comes in slightly shorter at 500km. Both courses follow broadly the same route with some subtle differences.

GODZONE events traditionally expect a 50% finish rate for the full course for both GZ Pure and GZ Pursuit. Less, if a majority of you are not very good at navigating. More, if you all train your little toe socks off and engage your brains in the process. But, we have done our best to plan short course options that are still challenging and interesting and any team reaching the finish line will have earned their fish and chips washed down by a cold frothy drink.

It is very hard to compare the difficulty of the traditional GODZONE New Zealand courses to the planned course for GODZONE Australia – Chapter 1. But keep in mind that the Race Director has spent a considerable amount of time slogging up steep glacial slopes in New Zealand, taking a machete to Brazilian jungle and trying to avoid spinifex grass in central Australia. This course based on the Coffs Coast is no stroll from the resort to the palm tree covered beach and back. Nope, this is going to be a proper expedition race and something that will challenge even the best teams.

We won’t reveal anything too specific about the Chapter 1 course until the final moments. Probably not until we hand over the course maps, in fact, on Thursday the 22nd September. However, we can share some snippets of information that might help you plan your training, or at the very least get you speculating wildly about where we are going and what you will be doing:

  • The expected winning time is currently 4 and a half days for both the PURE and PURSUIT courses. Plenty of time for adventure. In summary, this is a long race so be prepared
  • The trekking and packrafting stages can be long and they will travel through difficult terrain. Full leg cover is highly recommended (unlike the lovely beech forest we enjoyed in Fiordland recently…)
  • Mountain biking will be hilly and with heavy rain the trails can quickly go from ‘I wish I brought my gravel bike’ to ‘why did I bring a bike on this leg at all since I’m only pushing it’
  • Given the fact that most teams will be on the course in excess of 6 days, sleep management and strategy will be critical to success. This may be on the course or in a Transition Area. GZ Pursuit teams will get to enjoy the benefits of their amazing support crews as they stroke heads and sing them to sleep. GZ Pure teams will need to be more canny in their sleep choices, picking the right moments to switch the mind and body to standby mode for a precious couple of hours
  • There are different views on the optimal amounts of sleep for a race this long. Too much and you might struggle to make it to the finish in time. Too little and it gets very hard to concentrate and you often move a lot slower than you think when your head is all fuzzy from lack of zzzzz’s. If you’re unsure about what to aim for, reach out to more experienced racers and see how they approach it. All we would say is that for every 1 team that crosses the line that says they slept too much, there are another 10 who wished they’d slept a bit more. Good quality sleep is vital but don’t overdo it
  • As ever, water will play a significant part in a GODZONE event and we urge every competitor to get the skills/qualifications to turn river sections into a fun experience, rather than a terror-inspired rollercoaster of emotion. If you’re unsure of the requirements, take a look at the Certification page which outlines the basics required. The better you are, the more you’ll enjoy it. The river paddling could be up to Grade III so please take your paddle training seriously
  • Despite Australia having the reputation of being a hot country, the paddling sections could be quite cold. In fact, with the event is being held in early Spring and sections of the course climbing over 1000m in elevation, water related temperatures could be low (especially after a few days racing and as the body starts to feel the effects). Be prepared to keep yourself warm, especially on any longer paddles, at night and in the early hours of the morning. At least one section of water will be dark zoned, meaning that paddling will be forbidden at night. Under this scenario you could well be forced to camp out for up to 12 hours. It is well worth having a few creature comforts at your disposal for this eventuality
  • All GZ Pure teams should take their packraft training seriously. There is a lot of packrafting. Those little rafts will be your best friends at some points of the race. If you don’t optimise your use of them, learn how to pack them up and down quickly and efficiently, making sure you have ample carrying capacity between the four of you, you are going to have the odd relationship breakdown. Get out in those rafts and use the backpack (probably 60-80L) you intend to use during the event for moving it about. Time spent preparing for packrafting will not be wasted
  • More information about what to expect from the course will be released in forthcoming Newsletters 2 & 3. Don’t panic. Just be meticulous and plan properly

Registration & Welcome

All registration, pre-event administration, gear check, media interviews, official Welcome and Race Briefings for both the GZ Pure and GZ Pursuit teams will take place on Wednesday, 13th September 2023.

We have planned for all of these activities to be within a very short drive or bike riding distance of each other so you should not need to spend too much time traveling about (except to compare the range of delightful cafes).

Boats and any other race equipment provided by the organisers will be available for testing and observation. Be prepared for an early start on Thursday morning. More specific schedule information will follow in subsequent Newsletters. For a general overview of event timing please check out the Schedule.


Coffs Coast has plenty of accommodation options to suit the needs of your team and any family, friends and supporters that wish to accompany you to the event. The event is now less than six months away, which sounds like a long time, but please note that September is a busy period for the region. The 2nd week of the event will coincide with school holidays for Victoria/Queensland so we would encourage you to start making plans today.

As detailed in the event Schedule, we recommend booking at least 2 nights prior to the event start on 14th September (that would be 12th, 13th). It is always difficult to predict when you will return to civilisation and require your accommodation again after the event. If you have family travelling with you for the event, then it probably makes sense for them to have accommodation booked for the entirety of the event.

Our recommended accommodation setting is in the town of Sawtell, just 10-15mins drive south of the Coffs Harbour city centre.


There are a variety of ways to get to the host venue, Coffs Harbour, via air or self drive being the most popular. The most convenient option will be to fly domestically direct to Coffs Harbour Airport. Coffs Harbour Airport is one of the largest and busiest regional airports in New South Wales and is your gateway to the beautiful Coffs Coast. The airport is literally a few minutes drive from the city center so you won’t waste hours in traffic getting to and from your flight.

International travelers would need to fly into a major airport, Brisbane and Sydney being the closest. From there they could elect to self drive or catch a domestic flight to Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour is an easy 4.5hrs drive from Brisbane and 5.5hrs drive from Sydney.

IMPORTANT: All international competitors must have a current passport, valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from Australia. Most visitors to Australia do not require visas unless they intend to work, study or seek employment. Please check with your local travel authority before traveling.

Awards Ceremony

We know that most of our athletes are not doing the race for the accolades and the opportunity to make a post-race speech but, awards ceremonies are a great opportunity to come together and share some stories with your fellow competitors.

We hope you can stay in the region after your team’s finish and enjoy the presentation on Friday afternoon (22nd September) following the course closure.

Bike Boxes, Gear Boxes & Bags – GZ PURE Event

GODZONE Australia is now non-supported race for GZ Pure teams. This means that PURE teams are NOT required to bring a support crew to Chapter 1, Coffs Coast. Our event logistics crews will be responsible for transporting team equipment around the course and to various transition areas. Therefore, GZ Pure teams will need the following:

  • 4 x bike boxes: A typical bike box style used on an airline is what is required – Max dimensions 140cm x 80cm x 30cm don’t be the guy who brings a massive bike box!. Corflute (fluted plastic) or cardboard (we suggest wrapping the cardboard in plastic contact if you don’t have a Corflute one in case it rains). No sharp edges or protruding buckles, fixings or wheels. Maximum weight 30kg
  • 3 x 110L tubs or gear boxes: These need to be sturdy and able to withstand transportation over the course of the event. We recommend the ToolPRO Storage Trunk 100L box which is available at Supercheap auto and can be viewed here. These boxes have a maximum 25kg weight limit
  • 1 x paddle bag: This can be a tubular bag 50cm diameter x 150cm long and max weight 25kg. Paddles may be transported separately, need to be securely bundled together and labelled clearly

Logistics & Support – GZ PURSUIT Event

For the GZ Pursuit teams, GODZONE is a supported race. This means that all teams are required to bring a support crew to Chapter 1, Coffs Coast. The support crews will be responsible for transporting the majority of team equipment around the course and to various transition areas. Therefore, bike boxes and gearboxes are not a mandatory requirement for GODZONE Pursuit teams (though your support crew may still wish to use them to keep things safe and organised).

As with all items of your race equipment and surplus luggage, we do not provide insurance cover for items that go missing or that break so if you are in any doubt, do not bring the item or arrange suitable personal insurance. At the very least, encourage your support crew not to be clumsy.

For a more comprehensive discussion about support crews, please visit the Support Crew page.

Important: the information below is provided as a preliminary guide only, but is a good start point for planning:

  • Support crews are responsible for transporting team bikes. Given that your support crew has access to bikes throughout the race, we recommend that they have some knowledge on how to service, clean and fix them
  • Support crews are responsible for transporting team clothing, food, water and supplies
  • Support crews are responsible for removing team waste and recycling from transition areas
  • Support crews are responsible for transporting other team equipment
  • A logistics planner, that outlines the stage character, length and different disciplines, will be released to team captains one week before the race starts for Pursuit teams. This will allow teams and support crews an opportunity to get their heads around the adventure and begin equipment planning. It will not reveal the location of checkpoints, transition areas, start or finish line. These will be kept secret until right up until the last moment
  • Support crews will be given the opportunity to be closely involved with race staff and volunteers to allow you to enjoy the experience, rather than just be a slave to four grumpy racers wondering why you handed them a flat white instead of a latte

Mandatory Gear Update

At this time, there are no changes to the Mandatory Gear List. However, we draw your attention to the following key bits of information:

  • Packrafting equipment has been separated out from canoeing and kayaking to give you a clearer picture of what needs to be carried on packrafting stages
  • We frequently get questions about the wetsuit requirement. Some competitors prefer to use ‘sharkskin’-style tops and bottoms as an alternative for better heat performance. However, teams should understand that the wetsuit requirement is not just about warmth. Wetsuits provide good warmth but also better protection against impacts, abrasion and they also assist with buoyancy. For these reasons, ALL teams must bring a wetsuit to Chapter 10 (farmer john-style is a great option). Teams are welcome to bring sharkskin-style clothing for use when the wetsuit is not a mandatory requirement. Wearing a wetsuit and sharkskin might not be a bad idea at times

Packrafting (GZ Pure teams only)

In the past we have received a fair number of questions about packrafts and related equipment. Most teams seem to have got their heads around what types are good for adventure racing and the quality and quantity of available rafts continues to expand. For those new to GODZONE, we’d first of all recommend that you try and talk to someone who has experienced a few GODZONE’S, or has extensive packrafting experience in Australian rivers. There are some very knowledgeable people out there and most of us love to chat for hours about gear.

From our perspective, we’re not particularly interested in how fast/light your new raft is and how the sunlight seems to dazzle seductively off its custom paint job. What we care about is that teams are safe and that you all know how to use the rafts correctly. The following is a brief outline of things to consider when looking at packrafts. However, the number 1 piece of advice we’d give to newbies is to go and get some instruction first. Check out the range of MRS packrafts sold by our event partners Thought Sports here.

The reality is that the optimal packraft for this event may not be the best one for your personal travels, the next Chapter of GODZONE, or any other race you may do around the globe. If you are going to buy a packraft then we would advise that you get the best quality that you can afford and one that is good for most water conditions, rather than a rather ‘specialist’ version. Packrafts with sprayskirts have some advantages in terms of water ingress and warmth. Those advantages are offset by cost and weight. A sprayskirt or cover is not a mandatory requirement but if it is cold, you may be thankful of having one.

There are pros and cons of single versus double packrafts. The latter can be lighter overall for a team of four and possibly a bit quicker. However, those benefits are offset by the reduced flexibility of the rafts afterwards – in the sense that 4 singles could go home with 4 different people.

Teams should definitely ensure that their rafts are big enough to carry not only people but plenty of equipment too. We have some great photographs from previous editions with two very tall people crammed into a small raft, looking decidedly uncomfortable. Equipment needs to be stored on the rafts in a way that it does not impede access out of the raft in the case of a capsize.

Backpacks should not be worn whilst rafting. They must be in the raft. Rafts need to be capable of coping with white water up to Grade III.

Like most things at GODZONE, skills go a long way to ensuring a safe and enjoyable adventure. We thoroughly recommend that teams spend a good deal of time in their rafts prior to the race to understand their strengths and, more importantly, their limitations. Teams wishing to skill-up or expedite their learning should definitely look into some of the training courses on offer.

Remember, it is our job to lay on a great adventure race and make sure that it operates smoothly with plenty of information. It is your job to ensure you turn up with the requisite skills. It will only add to your enjoyment and piece of mind.

Whitewater Rafting (GZ Pursuit teams only)

Why should the GZ Pure competitors get all the fun white-water paddling? Well they don’t, for Chapter 1 the GZ Pursuit teams will get to experience some amazing paddling, but with the help of a whitewater raft guide.

This is by no means an excuse to stop your paddling training Pursuit teams. There will be more opportunity in the course to be able to show that the hard work you put into your training has more benefits than making your T-shirt feel a bit tighter.

GZ Pursuit athletes should train both single and double-bladed paddling techniques, on both whitewater rivers and flat water.


Teams will use specially prepared maps that may vary from a scale of 1:10 000 to 1:50 000 (most will be standard 1:25 000). The magnetic declination in NSW is roughly +12.7degrees. NSW topographical maps can viewed via the Six Maps website. Click on “Basemaps” on the top right and change to NSW Map, then scroll in and out and shake it all about.

All teams will be provided with two sets of topographical maps for the entire course. Both sets of maps are waterproof maps. GZ Pursuit Support Crews will receive an additional set of maps.

A summary of what each team will receive (at least in terms of course related documents) is outlined below:

  • One week before the race starts an electronic Route Planner PDF will be emailed to team administrators that will provide a broad overview of the stages. This will be supplemented at Race Registration with:
  • Two sets of waterproof maps available for use on the course. Yep, no need for contact or laminate or to have the inevitable crease running through the hardest part of nav on course.
  • One Team Handbook, that will give detailed information about stages, rules, penalties, particular safety requirements over and above generic considerations, dark zones, time cut offs and route specifics (the do’s and dont’s of the course). The Team Handbook also contains a very specific table for each stage outlining what mandatory gear is required to be carried on that specific stage. If there is a small contradiction between what is outlined in the Team Handbook and what is on the Mandatory Gear List on the website, then the Team Handbook is the one to follow
  • The Mandatory Gear List on the website is just a generic catch all for the entire race and we will modify it to suit particular stages. For example, if you have a vanilla 2hr bike ride, we might remove some gear requirements such as carrying a tent and sleeping bags, as carrying them will not really make you any safer (which is really what mandatory gear is about – the bare necessity to survive, if you have to)
  • Please note that the Team Handbook must be carried by the team at all times during the race. This is to ensure you have all the important information to hand when out on the course – such as the next time cut off which you are in danger of missing. The Team Handbook is NOT on waterproof paper so we recommend that you have some way to keep it dry
  • Every team will receive two Race CONTROL CARDS (looks a bit like this, A6 size and the punch boxes look like this) which ARE made of waterproof paper. You will ‘punch’ your CONTROL CARD at each Checkpoint along the course and as you enter and again when you exit each Transition Area. You must submit one completed Race Passport to officials at the finish. No completed Race Passport, no finish. We recommend that you ‘punch’ both passports at all times and look after them carefully, using one as a back up. Some teams elect to have different people carry each passport to reduce the risk of loss or forgetting to punch. Your call
  • Teams may also be issued wrist bands on the course that require each team member to punch their band. This is to ensure each team member goes to the control – not that we don’t trust you

Final Thoughts

OK, that’s a fair amount of information to digest. We acknowledge that sometimes, with such a large data download, it is easy to forget the really important things. For now, we would draw your focus back to these key items:

  • Get the skills (navigation, water and a sensible race strategy are a great place to start). If you’re not a seasoned pro in packrafts on moving water, we highly recommend that you use the time available to start upskilling. Check out the training courses on offer by the team at Thought Sports
  • Have a good chat with your team. Work out your relative strengths and weaknesses so that you can move as an efficient unit. For example, a very slow technical rider or someone who struggles to descend on foot in tricky terrain can seriously slow down three other people, no matter how strong you all are. Use the coming months to settle on an achievable and collective goal for the race
  • Sign up to a local race. We highly recommend the Adventure 1 events in Australia and New Zealand (or any of the 20+ countries around the world now holding Adventure 1 events). The team at Thought Sports are also holding Explore Gippsland Adventure Race on 28-30 July, and the 30hr course will be your best opportunity to get an insight into the style of racing to expect at GODZONE Australia – Chapter 1
  • Book your accommodation, sooner rather than later
  • Log into your team information page and fill in your details so we can release the Team List
  • If you need any additional information or have any questions, no matter how small please reach out by emailing info@godzoneaustralia.com