Trail Running – Getting Started

How do you become a trail runner?

Find a trail and run along it ..

How do you find trails?

The simplest way is to check your local council website – In Auckland our Regional Council has a list of all of trails that they manage in the Auckland Region (with brief descriptions of each) on their website, you can search for trails either by selecting a particular Regional Park or the type of trail you’d like – easy access short walk, pram access short walk, short walk, walking track, tramping track, route or mountain bike tracks (which runners are usually able to share).

Additionally certain trails in your area will be managed by the Department of Conservation.  All of the DOC managed trails throughout New Zealand are listed on their website The easiest way to find a suitable trail is to use the search engine on the walking and tramping page.  This particular search engine allows you to filter down your choices by area, duration and difficulty (or any combination thereof).  I find the DOC website particularly helpful when looking for trails outside of Auckland, I would however take the listed degree of difficulty with a grain of salt – the Te Henga Walkway is listed as an easy walk, but it’s not somewhere I’d take my kids (7 & 8 at the time of writing).

I will note that once I’ve found a trail that sounds interesting I always google it and read any additional information I can find.  Blog posts tend to be helpful especially the more descriptive ones, and they’ll usually include photos, which has helped immensely when I’m looking for track entrances in areas I am unfamiliar with.

*Tip* – If your search comes back with an trail event in the area definitely check out the website as they’ll always include course descriptions and maps.  It’s the easiest way to plan a loop in your desired area (because the work has already been done for you). 😉

Found one – now what?

First – safety

  1. Print a map, if you don’t have a printer take a photo of the map or draw a rough sketch with any other trails in the immediate vicinity, I can’t tell you the amount of time I was “sure” I knew where I was going – only to get lost .. 😉
  2. Tell someone where you are going and how long you think you will be (overestimate, trail running always takes longer than you think it will.)
  3. Carry a phone

Second – comfort

  1. Don’t carry your water/food/phone/keys in your hands, you’ll need those to scramble up banks or grab trees when you fall, instead use either a hydration pack (my choice) or a waist belt.
  2. Unless you are vain (like me) and don’t want weird tan lines – wear long socks, because gorse, cutty grass and random tree branches will draw blood.
  3. If at all possible wear trail shoes – think of it this way, your road shoes are a Jaguar (the car, not the feline) and you wouldn’t take a Jag out onto the trails, you’d drive a trail in a Jeep. – Wear a Jeep.

Can you come and hold my hand?

Hmmm – that would depend, did you come out of my womb?   If you didn’t then probably not, I say probably because if we are related by blood then I would (under well hidden duress), because blood ..

But do not despair for there are other people out there who are far more willing to share their trails;

Facebook Groups are a good place to start;

  1. Waitakere Bush Runners Group runs on Saturday at 2pm in the Waitakere Ranges and Tuesday & Thursday evenings from Huia.
  2. Waitakere Snails Group run on Thursday nights at about 7.45pm from various locations in the Waitakere Ranges.
  3. Trail Running Adventures – Group runs in various locations and times.

A comprehensive New Zealand wide list of Facebook Trail Running groups can be found HERE.  You can also use websites such as Meet Up (which is how I was introduced to trail running) or Way Wiser to find groups to run with, it’s as simple as searching the term “trail running”.

Another way to give trail running a go in a relatively safe and controlled environment is to sign up for one of the Xterra trail running events even I’d be hard pressed to get lost doing an organised race. 😉

What if I have some more questions?

Google is your friend!

But seriously if you have a particular question you need answered such as, “what shoes/hydration pack/food should I use?” or “I’m coming down to Christchurch, where are some great trails?”  I’d strongly suggest joining the Wild Things NZ Trail Running Group on Facebook.  This is a large group of trail runners and is full of “old hands”, or should that be old feet?  Either way do a search on the page and see what comes up – if you can’t find anything, just write a post and ask.

Most importantly just get out there and enjoy yourself!

Till next time





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