Aussies Crush 3,000km Record on New Zealand’s Proudest Trail

Attention, Kiwis: your unsupported land speed record just got shattered by a couple of upstart Ozzies.

Tom Bartlett and Maddie Wait of The Adventure Gene, set a blistering new fastest known time (FKT) on Te Araroa — New Zealand’s backbone of trails at 3,000 kilometers north-to-south.

The old unsupported FKT: 69 days, 20 hours, by Tim Wright in December 2022. Bartlett and Wait’s benchmark: 54 days, 14 hours. according to their Instagram.


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A post shared by Tom and Maddie (@theadventuregene)

If the record stands on verification from, the hikers will have hacked well over two weeks off the record. But to hear it from them, they never expected such a decisive performance.

“We didn’t have a specific goal in mind before we started. We had an idea of how much sleep we needed and tried to spend every other waking moment moving! We thought the record was achievable, but at any moment something could happen and end your trip,” the couple told ExplorersWeb. “The TA is a very complicated trail with kayak sections, low tide routes and many shuttles. We spent a lot of time planning and we felt it paid off.”

Scorching pace

FKT lists no team category, supported or unsupported, for Te Araroa. But Wait and Bartlett’s pell-mell pace is closer to the overall record than to Wright’s unsupported mark. The overall (supported) FKT belongs to George Henderson at 49 days, 14 hours, 27 minutes.

“We walked together because we thought it would be more fun,” they said. “It’s a massive boost to share the good and bad moments with your partner. It also meant we could support each other and distribute the mental load of logistics and navigation etc.”

The team took off on New Year’s Day at Cape Reinga. Updates along the way included simple analytics on distance traveled and hours elapsed, plus anecdotes about Maddie’s animal greetings, and a couple of modest Q&A sessions.


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A post shared by Tom and Maddie (@theadventuregene)

As late as Feb. 4, they were roughly on pace to match the FKT at 1,134 km. But they started to gather steam from there. On day 35, they reached Wellington, the southern terminus of New Zealand’s North Island, at the 1,800 km marker. That put them ahead of Wright’s pace, in a position they would not relinquish.


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A post shared by Tom and Maddie (@theadventuregene)

Whether or not you think you can break Wait and Bartlett’s record, consider putting Te Araroa on your bucket list. The tour of every latitudinal inch of Middle Earth promises ridgeline trails, encounters with wildlife and livestock alike, the requisite Kiwi scenery — and the overall challenge and variation the provisional FKT holders spoke to.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.