More than a thousand years ago, the great chieftain Toi founded a tribe whose descendants went on to settle much of the east coast of the North Island.
Toi’s stronghold was Kapu-te-Rangi, pa of gentle breezes. Overlooking Whakatane, it is one of New Zealand’s most ancient pa sites.
Today, the wider area is traversed by Nga Tapuwae o Toi, the Footsteps of Toi track. This is a stunning loop-journey from Whakatane, heading around the spectacular Pacific Coast to Ohope, along the sand, then inland through forest that is roamed by kiwis, back to town. The track is the stage for annual Toi’s Challenge, founded in 1996, and one of New Zealand’s iconic trail events.
Entrants have the choice of the Julians Berry Farm and Café Toi's Challenge run, or the 1XX Toi’s Challenge fun walk. The 18 kilometre distance can be taken on by individuals or as a team of two, each doing half. As well as many panoramic views, all finishers get a punnet of juicy strawberries at the finish, thanks to Julians Berry Farm and Café.
If Toi’s challenge sounds a bit too much there is also the Robinson Law six kilometre fun run or walk, a relaxed but energetic effort, featuring the steps and hills of Whakatane’s Bird Walk track.
For the first time, the annual event will be cup-free. Everyone is asked to bring their own water container –hydration pack, drink bottle or cup. Online entries for all categories close November 21 and late entries will be taken at registration on November 23.
“Whakatane is less than an hour’s drive from Rotorua and Tauranga. Come down for the weekend, run Toi’s and relax on the beach afterwards,” says Dianne Bulled, from the Whakatane Athletic and Harrier Club organising team.
For more information, visit www.sporty.co.nz/whakataneahc/tois-challenge/home-page