Set in the foothills of the beautiful Kaimanawa Range, the Poronui Passage is New Zealand's newest trail event, but it doesn't come cheap.

"We wanted to create something that's a next-level event experience," Aaron Carter of Total Sport said.

"We want this to be the best thing that anyone has ever done that's interested in this kind of thing. In partnering with the people at Poronui – and this is an exclusive sporting lodge – we needed to create something that fitted their brand as well. In doing that, we settled on a price which does put us in the category of being the most expensive marathon in the country."

There's a 50km mountain bike event, a 42.2km marathon and a 21km half-marathon with entry starting from $355. And at that price, you'd expect something pretty special.


"This place is incredible. It's 16,500 acres of unbridled nature, beautiful locations, some stunning natural pieces there," Carter said.

"That's the magical piece and then around that we created three event options."

On every other day of the year, Poronui Lodge is only open to its guests, who mostly come to hunt and fish.

The course has been designed to give participants a tour of the station's highlights.

"You generally start with the base, where the event will be based from," Carter said.

"The obvious place here is a lovely spot out there called The Stables. From that point, you start looking at the options around the landscape.

"Essentially it becomes this jigsaw puzzle process where you want to get there, there, there and there. How are we going to best do that?

"Then you draw lines on maps and you get on bikes and in vehicles and you run. It takes 10-15 recces [sic] to get to that point where you start defining exactly how it's going to be."


Local knowledge came from the team at Poronui, including general manager Steve Smith, who is also a keen runner.

"As much as anything it's a personal thing," Smith said. "I became involved in Poronui because it's such an iconic property that really attracts people who have an interest in the outdoors.

"Over time you build a relationship with the land and I'm a passionate runner and we really enjoy sharing the experience.

"Poronui Station is well-known in rural New Zealand. It's had a very colourful history and set of owners. And its landscape is a unique mix of old growth beech forest, developed farmland, rivers, landscape that's been altered by the Taupō eruption and we have a lot of animals."

With more than 500 people expected to take part, protecting the environment from any damage is the number one priority.

"We're a sporting lodge that hunts and fishes so when you go running in this area there's always something that's quite special about coming around a corner and there being deer out in the open," Smith said.


"Everyone in New Zealand loves to think about their countryside as being like that, but don't get the chance to see it and here's something that's going to be a little bit different – it's not running on a tar-sealed road, that's for sure."

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