All Blacks legend Richie McCaw is enjoying not being in charge as he competes in a gruelling backcountry race.
The former captain is on the 530km GODZone challenge as part of Team Cure Kids. Rugby Players' Association boss Rob Nichol, Wanaka adventure racer Sarah Fairmaid and former Blues player Ben Meyer complete the team - and they did a bike trek through the Richmond Range overnight in complete silence.
Fairmaid said she tried to chat to her teammates as they went through the Silvan Forest, but got no response.
"We didn't talk at all, they were all mutes," she said.
But Nichol said: "Sarah tried, but we're boys so we don't talk."
McCaw said the stage was "pretty good", and he enjoyed it. "There were some good hill climbs in there."
The team arrived at the transition area at Wairoa Gorge about 2am before beginning the next stage, a 52km trek through the Red Hills.
Speaking before the race, the former All Blacks captain said it was refreshing to take a back seat in the team.
"It's completely different, you know, in a good way. It's actually quite refreshing to be the guy focusing on your new learning.
"Hopefully I can contribute to the team, we'll all be taking turns navigating, for example. Being the new boy is actually quite cool."
The team have so far raised $293,000 for children's health charity Cure Kids. Their aim is $350,000.
McCaw's entry to the GODZone adventure race is his first major sporting event since retiring from rugby after leading the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup victory in Britain last year.
In August he will travel to Brazil to cheer on fiancee Gemma Flynn as her Black Sticks hockey side chase a medal at the Rio Olympics.
The endurance event takes teams through three national parks, starting and finishing at Kaiteriteri, in the Tasman region.
Competitors trek, mountain bike, canoe, kayak and coasteer through Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks, along ridge lines, the Red Hills, beech forest and the Matakitaki River.