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Paragliding Association Welcomes The Return Of The Wanaka Hike And Fly Adventure Race

Athletes take to the air in the 2021 Wanaka Hike and Fly.

The New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (NZHGPA) welcomes the return of the Wanaka Hike and Fly adventure race. The ultimate combination of endurance, flying skills, and orienteering over three days, it is the only event of its kind in New Zealand. 

Traditionally, paragliding competitions in New Zealand have focused exclusively on a pilot’s flying skills. In the Wanaka Hike and Fly adventure race, athletes will compete by walking and paragliding through the mountains and valleys of and surrounding the Southern Alps. 

“At a time when our paragliding pilots cannot easily travel overseas, it’s great to see new forms of adventure flying developing and taking place in Aotearoa,” Nick Taber, Chief Executive of the NZHGPA said. 

“A number of pilots in our community are skilled in paragliding, as well as tramping and mountaineering. The New Zealand Southern Alps are well suited to this type of event, allowing competitors to put together and test these skills in a very special way.” 

The first Wanaka hike and fly race was held in March 2021. The event director is Kinga Masztalerz who represented New Zealand in the 2019 Red Bull X-Alps, a 1,200-kilometre race across the European Alps known for being the World's toughest adventure race. 

“I’m really keen to provide opportunities like this for our community of hike and fly pilots to develop their skills and experience,” said Masztalerz. 

“The Wanaka Hike and Fly race is aimed at both pilots who are racing for the top spot and those who want to take part in a more relaxed way. 

“Our Southern Alps are both beautiful and challenging to hike and fly through and can be a great training ground for overseas competitions. 

“Perhaps one day we might see one of our athletes competing in the X-Alps.” 

The 2022 Wanaka Hike and Fly race will be held between 11 and 14 February. An official list of checkpoints is provided to athletes in advance of the race. Athletes decide which checkpoints they will cross and the order in which they will cross them. The further away from the finish line, the higher the points but the greater the risk of not making it back in time. Additional points are gained for sleeping at a designated night turnpoint. 

“It’s essentially about having fun, learning, and socialising with fellow hike and fly enthusiasts,” Said Masztalerz. 

“Despite tricky weather conditions, our first edition went smoothly, and it was fantastic to watch our pilots having fun and finishing the race exhausted and glowing. 

“If you’re in Wanaka in February, keep an eye on what’s happening above you! I can’t wait to see what excitement the second edition will bring.”

© Scoop Media

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