Jono Ridler Swims 100Km Across New Zealand Gulf

Jono Ridler, 33, has completed a 100km swim across the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand. The Kiwi swimmer set off from Karaka Bay, Aotea Great Barrier Island at 10 am on Tuesday morning. He arrived at Cambell’s Bay on Auckland’s North Shore 33 hours and 13 minutes later.

Although maps list the route as 100km, his unofficial tracker clocked his final distance of 99.1km. They are still waiting on the official distance and time to be recorded.


No wetsuit allowed

But whether 99.1 or 100km, Ridler set a new record for the longest unassisted, open-water swim in New Zealand. The previous record was set by Caitlin O’Reilly. She completed an 80.8km double-crossing of Lake Taupō in March, 2022.

To be considered for the new record, he had to follow the the rules of the Marathon Swimmers Federation. This meant he was only allowed to wear a swimsuit, googles, and a swim cap. No wetsuit. He was also not allowed to touch his support boat or another person during his swim.

The route. Image:


As he came into the final stages of the swim, conditions became increasingly difficult. Ridler was initially supposed to land at Narrow Neck Beach, but had to adjust the route slightly to end at Campbell’s Bay because of the weather.

At hour 22, his team decided that he should swim through the channel near Tiritiri Mating rather than around it. The swells were so large on the outside that they deemed it too dangerous. At 31 hours, he ducked in closer to the coast for more protection and to prepare for the changing tides.

Photo: Jono Ridler/Instagram


20 to 30-knot winds

Crew member Hamish Willcox spoke to Checkpoint about the conditions as Ridler came into his last hour.

“There’s obviously incredible fatigue going on, and I have no idea what must be going on in his head, but he’s feeding well,” he said. “He’s coping with these massive waves, which are up to two metres, and this wind, which has been almost 20 to 30 knots all day. No one here in the support crew can believe what he’s done…He’s just an extraordinary young man.”


Photo: Jono Ridler/Instagram


This is not Ridler’s first marathon swim. He is one of just 10 people who have swum New Zealand’s triple crown; the Cook Strait (23km), Lake Taupō (40.4km), and the Foveaux State (28.6km). He swam the first in 2019, the second in 2020, and the third in 2021. This single swim was further than all three swims in the triple crown combined. 

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.