The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.

- Alexander von Humboldt



Mar 04, 2015

Indian Completes Te Araroa Trail in Sandals, Nominated For Outdoor Hero Award by Kiwi Magazine

Ultra-runner and LOTR fan Naresh Kumar completed New Zealand's 3000 km Te Araroa trail in under 90 days, wearing sandals.


Supriya Vohra

He’s now been nominated for the Wilderness Outdoor Awards 2015, open to a public vote till March 13th.

When the immigration officer asked Naresh Kumar why he wanted to move to New Zealand, he replied “Lord of the Rings.”

“I had to be honest,” he told The Outdoor Journal over telephone. “The spectacular locales of New Zealand in Peter Jackson’s epic series inspired me enough to want to quit everything and move there!”

Born and raised in Chennai in southern India, the software engineer and project manager for various Silicon Valley companies moved to the USA in 2009. Four years later, he quit his corporate job to “pursue a simpler and more joyful existence.” On receiving a permanent visa for New Zealand, he planned to begin a new life, and while researching about long distance trails, stumbled upon Te Araroa.

Tongariro National Park, (Mt Doom in the Background), North Island NZ
Tongariro National Park, (Mt Doom in the Background), North Island NZ

The Te Araroa or ‘The Long Pathway’ is a long-distance hiking route, stretching across the spine of New Zealand’s North and South Islands – from Cape Reinga in the North, to Bluff in South New Zealand. The 3000 km trail, touted as as the world’s longest public walkway covers many landscapes – sandy beaches, towering mountain ranges, ancient volcanoes, rural farmlands and rivers.  The route opened to the public in December 2011, after ten years of work by hundreds of volunteers.

Naresh has been an ultra runner for four years, starting out with the Hyderabad marathon, and then moving to tougher trails in the USA, including attempting the  Barkley 100, and finishing the Vol State 500 Kilometer race unassisted with 1st place. “I am a minimalist* at heart and run all my ultra distances in sandals,” he says.

At the summit of Mt Tongariro, Tongariro National Park, North Island, NZ
At the summit of Mt Tongariro, Tongariro National Park, North Island, NZ

He decided to hike the Te Araroa trail in his Bedrock Sandals, because it gave him a chance to “explore Tolkein’s fictional universe of Middle-Earth,” and a chance to push himself, test his limits. He was also motivated to raise money for TEAR FUND, a UK based development agency that fights human trafficking.

For training, he headed to Nepal and trekked the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary carrying a 30kg backpack.

His journey on the Te Araroa began on September 12, 2014 and finished on December 8, 2014, in 87 days.

For his feat, completing a trying 3000km in humble sandals in under 90 days, Wilderness, New Zealand’s outdoor magazine has nominated him for the Outdoor Hero award this year, part of their annual Wilderness Outdoor Awards. The awards are open to a public vote till March 13.

Bluff, South Island (Finish line of Te Araroa
Bluff, South Island (Finish line of Te Araroa

When asked to describe the the trail, he said, “Weather is your biggest enemy. NZ tramping standards are very different compared to US trails. Some sections are more rugged and the terrain very unforgiving. There is no such thing as switch backs in NZ. Sometimes, all you do is climb straight up and straight down following the marked poles. It makes the challenge a real challenge. Especially on the South Island where you are tramping in alpine terrain most of the time. Being above the tree line, you are totally exposed to the weather. Streams and river crossing are a huge part of the track. Sometimes you will be walking miles along a stream and will cross rivers where the currents are swift and it will be chest deep. If the weather goes south, you have no other choice but to sit it out and wait.”

“There is no wildlife that would kill you out there but NZ’s weather will do that job. It can change in an instant. From bright blue sunny skies to wind, blizzard, hail and snow all in a matter of an hour.”

*Minimalist running is a practice of running wearing minimal, low-drop and non-cushioned footwear to mimic closely the feeling of being barefoot.


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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.



Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma


“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”


For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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