News & Updates

16 December 2021 • General

Three top-class winter championship venues announced

Image of Deer Park Heights, venue for the 2022 New Zealand Mountain Running Championships. (Credit: Neville Britton).

Athletics New Zealand is delighted to announce a trio of exciting and attractive venues for three of our leading 2022 winter endurance events.

The 2022 Athletics New Zealand Mountain Running Championships will be incorporated into the Vertical Challenge event at the stunning Deer Park Heights location in Queenstown on Saturday 23 April on Anzac weekend.

The flagship event of the winter season – the 2022 New Zealand Cross Country Championships – will return to Spa Thermal Park in Taupo after an absence of 35 years on Saturday July 30.

Meanwhile, the 2022 New Zealand Road Championships will be staged on Sunday September 4 on a new course at the New Zealand Campus of Innovation & Sport (NZCIS), Upper Hutt. The preceding day the 2022 Athletics NZ AGM and Connections Conference will take place at the facility.

Competitions Manager Jason Cameron said: “We are hugely excited about the competitive opportunities these three national events will offer our athletes next year. Queenstown is renowned as a world-class mountain and trail running destination, so is apt that we will stage the NZ Mountain Running Championships within the Vertical Challenge event at the spectacular Deer Park Heights.

“Competitors will also be excited that the New Zealand Cross Country Championships returns to Taupo’s Spa Thermal Park, on what is, arguably, New Zealand’s benchmark cross country course. The winter season will later move on to the New Zealand Road Championships, where we expect to see some close and compelling racing on the flat and fast circuit course situated on campus at the New Zealand Campus of Innovation & Sport (NZCIS), Upper Hutt.”

The 2022 New Zealand Mountain Running Championships, which is organised by Athletics New Zealand in partnership with Queenstown Athletics Club and ActiveQT, will be an uphill only event and contested over distances of between 4-7km for senior men and women and U20 men and women.

Held on a private land, the event will be a great opportunity for runners to experience a national championship event in one of the most beautiful landscapes in New Zealand. Deer Park Heights offers uninterrupted views of the Wakatipu Basin and has been used as a movie set for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Wolverine.

Queenstown Athletics Club President Neville Britton said: “We are very proud to be awarded a national event. Deer Park Heights is a spectacular venue and for both runners and spectators to be given the chance to experience such stunning scenery, which is not normally accessible to the public, will make the event truly special.”

The 2022 edition in Queenstown will also offer a selection component for the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, which will take place later next year in Thailand.

The iconic Spa Thermal Park in Taupo will provide a fitting location for the 2022 New Zealand Cross Country Championships.

The venue is a regular host of the North Island Cross Country Championships and in 2018 held the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships, but next year hosts the premier domestic event of the New Zealand winter season for the first time since 1987.

Organised in partnership with Taupo Harriers and endorsed by Athletics Waikato Bay of Plenty, Spa Thermal Park will also host the 2023 Athletics New Zealand Cross Country Championships.

It will also form the climax of a month of cross country in New Zealand, which includes the North Island Cross Country Championships, which will also be staged at Thermal Spa Park four weeks prior to nationals on Saturday 2 July.

Noel Bennett, President of Taupo Harriers, who was coincidentally architect of the course the last time the nationals were staged at Spa Thermal Park, said: “Entrants will enjoy an open flowing course, with many ups and downs, corners, and plenty of opportunities to pass. Offering a great balance of uphill, downhill and flat running it is also an excellent spectator course. We can’t wait to see the best runners compete on a true cross country course and fight to eclipse long-standing records.”

The 2022 New Zealand Road Championships at the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport (NZCIS) Upper Hutt will feature a flat, fast multiple lap circuit which will be attractive for competing athletes and also provide great spectator viewing opportunities.

While the final race route is yet to be 100 per cent finalised, it is expected that but for a small section on open roads it will take place exclusively within the campus grounds.

NZCIS Sports Performance Director Jamie Tout said: “It’s a unique opportunity for the athletes to race on a really spectator friendly circuit within the NZCIS grounds. Taking a circuit approach to the course lends itself for highly competitive racing when supporters will never be that far away. It is the first national level sports event scheduled at the campus after we open the High Performance Sports Facility next year and we can’t wait to share NZCIS with everyone taking part in the New Zealand Road Champs.”

Roads nearby in Heretaunga have previously staged the Wellington 10km Championships. Athletics New Zealand are working closely with Athletics Wellington on the delivery of the event.