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Tuatara 1000 & Iti

The Tuatara is an adventure bikepacking route that takes in central and coastal Southland while also exploring some Otago vistas. Many small towns are visited, gravel back roads explored and no doubt plenty of southern hospitality experienced.


The grand depart starts in Gore on the last Saturday in February, with three course options. The 1000 is around 1100km and the Tuatara Iti is around 500km long, with the Little Iti being 300km and a great introduction to bikepacking. 

The next grand depart will be in 2024.  

To read more about the Tuatara 1000 - Trent Hiles recapped his 2022 adventure here

To enjoy the 2022 event film as captured by the, click here

Tuatara History

You will have heard of the Tour of Southland, introducing the Tuatara 1000. The alternative tour providing another way to explore the deep south. 


The TOS started in 1956 and is a staple sporting event for every school child lining the sides of the road to cheer on the tour as it passed. It is this foundation and a desire to share the magic of the south with more people that has led to the creation of the Tuatara. 


The route was created with the following in mind, Is there a gravel option? take it, Can we visit the coast? go on, Can we avoid the main road? Please, If we go down this dead end road, will it be worth it? For sure. 


Therefore the course visits the coast line often, passing through rolling farm land and sub alpine tussock country. The Tuatara ensures you will be challenged and delighted at what the deep south has to offer. At times there are large distances between supply points with not many people around - that just happens to be the way things work down here.


This route has many many hills, lots of loose deep gravel, large distances between supplies and challenging sections just to keep your adventure interesting. While the total elevation gain isn't huge, don't be tricked into thinking it will be easy. Instead of 1000m climbs, this ride just has 1000 climbs. 

The Southland weather will keep you on your toes, (if you can feel them). Don't be fooled by the dates into thinking it is still Summer, there isn't much between Antarctica and the route.   


The inaugural Tuatara 1000 started on the last weekend in February 2021, 66 bikepacking cyclists set off from the Band rotunda in the center of Queens Park Invercargill. The route is intended to be completed within 8.5 days following the standard Great Kiwi Gravel ride agreements.


For the 2022 edition, 93 riders started their loops in both directions from Gore. 2022 also saw the inclusion of the Iti (little) course for the first time.  

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