Adventure Racing with Kids

Adventure Racing with Kids

Hi there! I’m Georgie, Mum of two mini adventure racers Billie (6) and Finn (7). We live in Rotorua, and my husband and I have participated in adventure racing events since before the kids were born.  But recently we have been ‘competing’ as a family.  It’s such an awesome thing to do with kids and can be daunting if you are new to the sport.  So here are a few tricks and tips to help young families get going.

adventure racing

What is adventure racing?

Adventure racing usually involves biking and hiking, maybe a kayak and some fun mystery activities.  They tend to be 3hr, 6hr, 12hr or longer.  There is no set order like in a triathlon, in fact you won’t know exactly what you are doing until you get there on the day.  In our family the focus is on the adventure and not so much the racing, it’s something that we can all do together and is super fun.

The adventure lies in the unknown, you make your own course and find the best way between checkpoints.  After a briefing on rules and safety you will be given the maps.  You plot your route to get as many checkpoints as you can in the allocated time and off you go!  If you are thinking that sounds pretty crazy and huge and you’d never be able to do that, let alone your kids, then here are some tips on getting into adventure racing with your kids.

Top Tips: 


  1. Food

My number one tip for all outdoor adventures:  Take LOTS (I mean LOTS) of food!!  Give them a small bag of scroggin with chocolate, nuts, lollies etc in it that they can eat when they want.  Take some more filling stuff too and other snack foods in your bag. 


  1. Go slow

Stop often, like so much you wonder if you’ll actually ever get anywhere.  At these stops eat the lots of food you have bought.  This way you will last the 3hrs (or more), and you will all think you’re pretty awesome when you can casually drop into conversation that you have done a 3hr race.


  1. Stay warm

Make sure you have warm clothes, especially in colder months.  You are aiming to be out for several hours and don’t want to get cold, and you’ll be stopping lots to eat lots remember. Waterproof jackets are also a must. 

4. Team jobs

Give the kids jobs and involve them in navigation and decision making.  At checkpoints you will need to punch a card or write down clues or letters, this is a great job and there are often fights over this one, but luckily, just as good, is the ‘timekeeper’ job.  This is very important, you will need to give them a watch with a set alarm, I suggest setting it at every half hour to start with.  The timekeepers job is to tell everyone to eat and drink every time the alarm goes off, yay!  The adults usually get nominated to be packhorse 😊
  1. Less is best
You probably don’t want to try to get all the checkpoints.  We skip whatever checkpoints we need to keep up morale.  Checkpoint at the top of a big hill – nah, checkpoint on an island – yes!  Choose checkpoints that look or sound like they’ll be exciting to go to.  Definitely do the mystery activities and plan to have time to complete these.  Don’t be afraid to ask the organisers for timing tips and advice on fun checkpoints, everyone wants you to be successful with kids and no one wants to be hours late.
  1. Learn to read a map
You don’t need to be Chris Forne (NZ’s top adventure racing navigator) but it does help to have some basic map reading skills.  You can probably get away without knowing how to use a compass, but being able to orientate the map and identify features will be very helpful.  Most shorter races are aimed at beginners and will have basic navigation that mostly sticks to tracks and roads.  Stopping to read the map is a great strategy when tired, the kids are often really into it and if you can read a map it will reduce the chances of getting lost.
  1. Embrace the adventure

Even experienced adventure racers can get it wrong, and this is part of the adventure.  On one race we did Dad took the kids down the wrong path, this meant a 150m muddy bike push uphill to get back on track.  He wasn’t popular at the time but it makes a great story at the end of the race.  And story swapping on the finish line is one of the coolest things about adventure racing.  The more gnarly and hardcore the better!


Upcoming Events:

Adventure Races are full of super friendly people who are out there for the fun it.  So get out there and give an adventure race in your area a go!!

Here are a few links to some of the shorter events.  There are almost certainly more.  Follow the pages on Facebook for up-to-date info on next seasons races.

P6 Adventure Race – Auckland: has a 3hr and a 6hr option

Lactic Turkey rogaine series - Auckland

Mt Outdoors Lindis Rogaine

Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race – Nelson Region

Whangamata Adventure Race - Whangamata

Kawerau Adventure Race – Kawerau

Manawahe Adventure Race – Manawahe

Soaked in Adventure events – Opotiki/Whakatane

Next Generation Adventure Race – Christchurch region

Hillary Outdoors – NZ wide secondary school adventure racing events


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