Safari Determined by Finish Times

Others Udderly Unconcerned

Nathan Fa'ave and Dennis de Monchy bagged the highest gross in the Metlink City Safari on Sunday. But a 5-minute lateness penalty coming in from Island Bay pared them back from 1050 to 1000. Meanwhile Andy Foster and Greg Thurlow had insured against the unexpected by getting back to the city early, mopping up a couple of close controls, and finishing with 5 minutes to spare! Their score was 1015.

Coast to Coast legend Steve Gurney was also back on time, but his team had been moooving at a more liesurely pace - dressed as a herd of cows! Photos show the team performing antics en route and relaxing in cafes. Others also followed the animal theme, with team names incorporating takahes, babelfish, llamas, quackalacks, a hedgehog, naked mole (is there another sort?) rats, kiwis, moose (a flying one), land crabs and three types of monkey!

Fa'avae who lives in Nelson won the World Adventure Racing championship in 2005 and the NZ rogaine championship last year. de Monchy is the World rogaine champion and with Chris Forne will defend their title in Estonia in September. Now in Christchurch, he grew up in Lower Hutt so was familiar with the area. But Foster (a Wellington city councillor) and Thurlow have much greater local knowledge through their regular running including afterwork rogaines.

The Metlink City Safari is a rogaine with a difference. Instead of seeking checkpoints in forests and farmland, it takes place in the city. Although Wellington is a special city - the bush and the hills are close - and within! The other point of difference is that teams can use public transport - buses, trains, the cablecar, and for the first time the harbour ferry. If you can time it right, the smart way to Seatoun is by water! IF - it's a moving playing field. Teams have to do their homework on the routes and timetables.

If the concept was novel when the Safari began in Lower Hutt four years ago, it's increasingly relevant now as global warming and fuel prices become more important. An event close to home. An event using green travel. And of course healthy lifestyles need physical activity. No surprise that Christchurch and Auckland have copied the idea.

Participants in the Safari came from Auckland to Christchurch, with a particularly strong showing of school teams from Masterton. Regrettably last year's winners Bill Edwards and Tim Wilson were on the sideline. Edwards is training for the (much shorter) world masters orienteering championship, but sent his wife, kids and in-laws instead! There was at least one other three-generation team, the Ross family from Whitemans Valley.

50 teams in the the 6-hour section of the event were sent off by Greater Wellington Transport and Access Chair Peter Glensor at 9:45. Both top teams covered Wrights Hill and the western skyline, including the highest score of 100 on the top of Mt Kaukau. The world champions made a more complete sweep of Khandallah and Ngaio, but both teams headed for the south coast. Foster and Thurlow concentrated on Strathmore and used the Airport Flyer to get back; while the champions visited South Head to return via Island Bay. The result may well have been determined by the "end-game".

Later in the morning 90 teams assembled for the 3-hour course. On the whole less serious - many had kids in tow - some had kids on top. Some brought scooters. Others dressed up, with Stuart Engelbeck a mediaeval knight, no doubt with energy-saving lightweight chainmail. Ella Buckley and Andrea Hirschberg from Masterton had taken the train the day before to hosts at Paraparaumu; trained to the event; and would train back to the Waiararapa afterwards.

They were started by Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, with some taking advantage of the harbour ferry which left 15 minutes later. Others heading east chose the Airport Flyer. Still others could be seen making for the cablecar and the railway station, bound for Kelburn or Ngaio and Khandallah, where special 3-hour control points were located in clusters.

Last year's winners John and Tim Robertson chose the Flyer, mopping up the Seatoun cluster as well as three more distant controls. Returning city-wards they nearly fell in by mistaking the time left. Leaving the bus at Hataitai they visited Roseneath and only just had enough time to cross Mt Vic and reach home. They were clear winners.

But many felt like winners as they relaxed by the brand-new trolley-bus parked on Queens Wharf that served as the event HQ. "...nothing but praise for the great organisation of the whole event. Loved the new start/finish. Prologue timing caught us out by 15 seconds -- sure we had it timed; oh, well. Well done to you and the crew!"

Click on the photos at left for larger versions. Thanks to photographers Gavin Scott, James Scott, Steve Gurney and Metlink.

  1. Watch out for wandering stock.
  2. Andy Foster and Greg Thurlow plan the winning 6-hour route at Queens Wharf.
  3. Champion rogainers Nathan Fa'avae and Dennis de Monchy only missed out by 15 points.
  4. Teams make their final adjustments as the briefing is delivered from the steps of a trolleybus.
  5. The bus says "GO!" to the 6-hour competitors.
  6. Top mixed team in the 6-hour, Rachel Ockelford and Liam Drew could also have won but for a lateness penalty.
  7. Scooters were used by many of the teams with younger members.
  8. Tiki Gray and Nik Mellsop waiting for the harbour ferry to depart
  9. Teams disembark from the ferry at Seatoun.
  10. The Cablecar was an obvious way to reach Kelburn with minimal effort...
  11. ...but once at the top the hard work starts.
  12. Bus routes cover the whole city, even on Sunday. The Johnsonvile trainline was also used by many.
  13. John Randal overcame the effects of a bike crash the previous day to compete with daughter Kaitlyn (8).
  14. John and Tim Robertson (12) repeated last year's win in the 3-hour event.
  15. Wairarapa was well represented in the schools category, and team AR4L came 5th outright in the 6-hour.
  16. Steve Gurney treated the event with his customary seriousness. His team included Debbie Mansfield, Julie Gordon and Joanna Harrison.

This page is maintained by and was updated on 23 May 08.

Website design and advertising by