Event Profile

Whanganui Riverbank parkrun

In 2017 the New Zealand Government passed a bill that recognised the Whanganui River as a living person.

It has guardians appointed to speak on its behalf in order to protect it.

The river is what makes Whanganui Riverbank parkrun special.

Run director Michelle Selby says even though most of the city’s runners run beside it regularly it never grows old.

“It’s really pretty and the river always looks different. We see people rowing, fishing, plus the market at our turnaround point.

“There’s quite a good vibe along the way.”

The path is also littered with sculptures, the turnaround is marked by a huge globe with a map of the river etched in it.

There’s also a set of pencils, which Michelle says is a reminder to stand tall and be strong.


Whanganui Riverbank parkrun was all set to start in April 2020 but was delayed due to Covid.

When New Zealand parkruns returned in the July, Whanganui Riverbank launched with 76 parkrunners and 13 volunteers.

Its record is 83 (week two) but this is one of New Zealand’s more intimate events with an average of 36.

The parkrun was founded by Judy Mellsop, who remains as event director, after she learned of parkrun via her son.

She joined him at one event and saw it was a way to get a community active together.

“So, without too much thought and with no idea of the hiccups and hurdles I’d encounter I clicked the ‘start a new parkrun’ button on the parkrun website,” Judy says.

It’s an out and back in two directions with the river in sight throughout the run.

The first turnaround is near the River Traders Market, which is another highlight to a visit to Whanganui.


Michelle says the event has slowly brought people together.

“When we started people would run and then leave. Now there are more people staying afterwards and talking to each other.

“Our parkrun is building its identity, even with all the interruptions.

“I love our community, it’s supportive to everyone from the fastest to the slowest.

“When I heard parkrun was coming to Whanganui I was very excited.

“I had been a regular at Kapiti Coast from when it started but we moved in 2016 so had a long wait.

“Another friend from Wellington moved to Whanganui and we would talk about starting a parkrun here but we felt we didn’t know enough people to get the volunteers.

“We’re glad Judy got it started.

“Through volunteering I’ve made some really good friendships.

“Saturday morning is about going to parkrun to see my friends.

“I volunteer more than I run because I like that side of it.”

After parkrun they head to Columbus Cafe at Mitre 10 Mega for refreshment.

“I’m a new convert to the toasted cheese scone with butter,” Michelle says.

“There’s always something yummy.”

While in Whanganui

The Whanganui River Traders’ Market is on Saturday mornings at the parkrun turnaround.

Highlights are cinnamon buns, fudge and macarons as well as crafts.

Visit the Durie Hill Memorial Tower and Elevator. The elevator is New Zealand’s only public transport elevator and in use today.

There’s also the Whanganui Regional Museum and New Zealand Glassworks.

Like the outdoors? Visit the exotic Paloma Gardens for plants from all over the world. There’s also Virginia Lake and the Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary.

And while in River City, get on the water, by boat or take part in the great walk and paddle the river.

What’s in a name…

Whanganui comes from the Māori for big bay, or big harbour.

Whanganui is known as the River City. The parkrun runs alongside the riverbank.

Event Profile

Event profile: Cambridge NZ parkrun

There’s an unwritten challenge that parkrunners try to run at events that share a name, particularly if their home run is one half.

The twinning of parkruns simply by name has led to friendships that Cambridge NZ event director Brian Prescott (A3119130) never imagined, especially since his role came about by accident.

“I volunteered to help set up Cambridge because I did a bit of running.

“I’d never done a parkrun before then.

“I’ve yet to get in to the tourism side of things – I finally ran Hamilton Lake, which is just up the road, a couple of months ago.”

Getting started

Cambridge NZ parkrun is in the Waikato region of New Zealand, just south of the city of Hamilton.

It’s next door to the Avantidrome, which is the home of New Zealand’s high performance cyclists.

It launched on March 4, 2018.

“Rob Hammington and Lex Chalmers (stalwart Hamilton Lake parkrunners) did all the setting up and then handed it over to Paul Stinton and me as Event Directors.

“We had both put our hands up to help out, never expecting to end up as EDs.

“But here we are.

“Along the way we have built up a core group of volunteers, most notable is Christine Jenkins, who, in the last parkrun before the current lockdown, completed her 200th time volunteering at Cambridge NZ parkrun.

“Paul Stinton is not far behind.

“I couldn’t do it without our core volunteer team of Paul, Christine, Larraine, Jo, Kenny, Sammy and Kyra – thanks guys.”


“The nearest town is Cambridge. But there was already a Cambridge parkrun so we became Cambridge NZ.

“We are one of the few ‘twin’ parkruns in the world and before Covid-19 there were a number of parkrunners who achieved the Cambridge double.

“We have a good relationship with Cambridge parkrun and had their volunteer team join us via a Zoom call when we restarted after the first Covid lockdown.”

Sadly Cambridge parkrun has since announced its closure.

Cambridge NZ launched with 95 parkrunners and nine volunteers.

It has an average finish of 50 parkrunners. Its highest attendance of 170 came on January 1, 2019, when it doubled with Hamilton Lake.

Brian and his daughter Anna aka Fizz

The course

“It’s a ‘mostly flat’ out and back parkrun with the first half being mostly downhill.

“It has a mostly rural outlook with some views of the mighty Waikato River.

“There are a few short and sharp uphills so try to leave something in the tank for the ‘heartbreak hill’ and ‘destroyer of PBs’ at the finish.”

Brian says that because Cambridge NZ attracts a small field it “never gets crowded”.

“And being an out and back course you always get plenty of encouragement along the way.”

Afterwards they head next door to The Bikery Café.

“I always go for the savoury scone, but a lot of people talk about the sausage rolls.”

While at Cambridge NZ parkrun

The Avantidrome is right next to the cafe.

It is free entry unless there is an event on.

You can often see some of the NZ cycling team training. Or for $25 you can do a 1 hour intro to track cycling.

All equipment provided.

Cambridge also has a very good farmer’s market at the village green on Saturdays and there are some excellent shops and cafes in the main street.

If you’re into nature Maungatautari Eco Sanctuary is worth a visit. Cambridge is also the closest parkrun to Hobbiton.

What’s in a Name…

Cambridge was named after the Duke of Cambridge, Commander in Chief of the British Army in 1864.

Its Maori name is Kemureti.

As Cambridge parkrun already existed in the UK, NZ was added as a suffix to signal it was a different Cambridge.

This was originally published in Issue 6 of the Runs With A barcode magazine.

Photos by Andy Walmsley

Event Profile

Millwater parkrun

Think of Auckland parkruns and most visitors will name Cornwall Park and Western Springs.

In the northern reaches of the city is the hidden gem of Millwater.

It was the lucky seventh parkrun to start in New Zealand, and the third in Auckland.

When it launched in September 2014 it had 56 finishers. These days it has an average of 107.

“We are an amazing supportive community of parkrunners and volunteers, where friendships have been made, health goals achieved, and all in the vicinity of the beautiful Te Ara Tahuna Estuary,” says co-event director Claire Taylor.

“Millwater is a fairly flat and fast out-and-back course on a concrete path.

“Just a few undulating hills add interest as the course leaves the Metro Park Sports Field and winds itself along onto the Te Ara Tahuna estuary.

“First timers usually say we’re a friendly bunch, who like to have fun!

“People enjoy our course, as they often get a decent time, and the wide pathways make it easy to run.”

Getting started

Millwater is one of the events in New Zealand that started because of the sponsorship deal with New Zealand Home Loans in the early days.

There were two couples who got the event off the ground, the Myburghs and the Falconers.

At the time Gavin Myburgh was involved with NZHL.

In 2018 Rhys Spyve took over as event director as the Myburghs moved away from Millwater.

Claire joined as co-ED last year during the 2020 pause.

When parkruns in New Zealand returned in July 2020 Millwater represented Italy and as a result of that celebration they now have a special connection with the European country.

Claire recently celebrated her 250th parkrun.

“When my Dad introduced me to parkrun back in 2014, I had no idea what impact this ‘Free Weekly Timed’ event would have on my life.

“I was in the UK on a flying visit for my sister’s wedding, and Kesgrave parkrun had just started.

“Dad and I had both recently taken up jogging, and this was to be my first organised running event.

“I recall being terribly nervous, and at that stage, I didn’t even own any lycra! I went along in my old trainers, t-shirt and cotton leggings, and puffed my way around with Dad.

“On my return to New Zealand a couple of weeks later, I discovered my closest event was here at Millwater which had, interestingly, started on the same day as Kesgrave.

“I turned up for Event #6 on 25th October 2014.”


“This thing called parkrun has changed my life. I am sure my younger self would be staring in disbelief at me running 5km every Saturday morning.

“I am fitter, stronger and more determined than I ever was in my youth.

“I have made some wonderful friends. Friends of different ages, stages and demographics.

“Friends from an online parkrun community, some of whom I’ve met on the parkrun circuit, some I am yet to meet.”

After parkrun the volunteers and parkrunners head to Millie’s .

It’s one of three local cafes who offer a discount with a parkrun barcode. Millie’s is always buzzing with parkrunners and locals.

“Millie’s are famous for their decadent doughnuts, oozing with different fillings and toppings, but their scones and cronuts are equally mouthwatering,” Claire says.

“They also have a fantastic hot brunch menu, and have some good gluten-free cake options too.”

While at Millwater parkrun…

Auckland doesn’t experience natural snowfall so head to Snowplanet for an indoor wintry experience.

Auckland Adventure Park has lots of fun for the family, including a zipline, luge track and a 4D cinema experience.

You can also explore Wenderholm Regional Park, Silverdale Pioneer Village, The Estuary Arts Centre, Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway (7.8km loop track), Orewa town and beach, Alice Eaves Scenic Reserve….. there’s so much to do! – Claire Taylor

What’s in a Name…

Millwater is a new suburb of Auckland.

In 2005 a number of themes were developed for naming the area.

The name Millwater combined an element of history (milling Kauri) with the area’s predominant geographical asset, water, which was used to transport the timber.

This was originally published in Issue 5 of the Runs With a Barcode magazine.

Event Profile

Invercargill parkrun

For a while Invercargill parkrun was a sought after parkrun for challenge collectors.

Not for its I but for the fact it was the world’s most southerly parkrun.

That mantel was lost when Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun launched, but still, Invercargill remains New Zealand’s most southerly (and westerly) and an event to visit in its own right.

Invercargill is in the Southland region of New Zealand, and just 20km from the most southern town of Bluff.

It had its inaugural run on February 10, 2018 with 103 finishers. It averages 108 each week.


Event director Liz Henry says it’s the community that makes it the place to be on a Saturday morning.

“We have such a wonderfully positive group of people who join us for parkrun,” she says.

“I love that they can choose to come when it works for them and they know that we will be there when they come.

“It is an awesome thing that people feel confident in being able to come when they can. And equally really cool are the people that come every week.”

The course

Invercargill parkrun is one of the few single lap courses in New Zealand.

It traverses in and around Queen’s Park, mostly on sealed paths.

“Our parkrun is an energetic, friendly and inclusive event which takes you on a journey through perhaps one of the most stunning and most English of parks in New Zealand.

“The course itself is easier to find your way around than the map shows! We have many marshals to ensure that you have a supported morning jaunt.

“We start and finish at the duckponds, and take you on a journey through our beautiful rose gardens, it includes enjoying the wide expansive path that goes through a stunning walkway of English Beech and Silver Birch trees.

“Known as Coronation Avenue, it is the axis from which all parts of the park can be found and history and nature merge along the way.”

Liz’s story

Liz was recently recognised for her contribution to parkrun, she was nominated for Adminstrator of the Year at the Southland Sports Awards.

She got parkrun off the ground after a couple of visits to Australia.

“In 2016 I was on the Gold Coast for New Year’s with my sister who lived there. She made me go to parkrun (Main Beach).

“I came last, well, last before the Tail Walker and when I came through there were 365 people still waiting for me to finish and clapping me through.

“I was a bit embarrassed but also thought it was pretty cool.

“My thought was if Australia can do it then what can Kiwis do, I thought we could step it up here.

“I came back to New Zealand, made some enquiries and saw Dunedin was my closest one, but having done my studies there, there was no way I was running up that hill in the Botanical Gardens.

“Later that year I went to Adelaide for a cousin’s wedding and we all did parkrun (Torrens).

“It was a good way for everyone to get together and do something before the wedding. Again, there was a similar vibe.”

Invercargill’s launch

“After that I got thinking about setting one up in Invercargill. “It took us eight months to get a course sorted.

“We were just about to go live when council decided to dig up most of the park for drainage so we had to wait another seven months.

“When we first set up we thought 60 would be a success and that was the number we gave council to get permission to run.

“Six months later we were getting over 100 and they were blown away.

“They hadn’t seen that many people in the park at that time before. About half of our field are walkers.

“We might not be the most southerly any more but we’re the most accessible, southerly parkrun – Invercargill is easier and cheaper to get to than the Falkland Islands.”

After parkrun parkrunners visit The Cheeky Llama Cafe in the middle of the park.

“I go for the hash browns and eggs with bacon.

“Admittedly, it isn’t officially on the menu. But it has become a thing that many of us enjoy for a post parkrun brunch, along with a coffee of your choice of course!”

While in Invercargill

Bill Richardson’s Transport World is one of the most highly rated attractions in the city and is a must for anyone remotely interested in automobiles.

It is one of the largest private collections of vehicles found anywhere in the world with over 300+ vehicles on display.

Despite being in a naturally colder part of the city, Invercargill still boasts some magnificent beaches within its borders.

Oreti Beach is definitely one of those and is a long stretch of beach characterised by hard-packed sand that you can drive on.

It’s a great one for just about any beach-activity you can imagine.

Also known for being a great spot to capture an amazing sunset.

Solve It and Escape, escape room experience in Invercargill.

We also have a great selection of wonderful cafes and restaurants to choose from!! – Liz Henry

What’s in a Name…

Invercargill parkrun is named for the city it’s in.

Inver comes from the Scottish Gaelic word inbhir meaning a river’s mouth. Cargill is in honour of Captain William Cargill, who was at the time the Superintendent of Otago, of which Southland was then a part.

This was originally published in issue 4 of Runs With A Barcode magazine.

Event Profile

Queenstown parkrun

You’d be hard-pressed not to find a reason to visit Queenstown parkrun.

It’s the only Q parkrun in New Zealand, but also finds itself nestled among some of the most breath-taking scenery.

Add to that the variety of experiences visitors can enjoy while in town and its surrounds, well you might as well just book a trip now!

Queenstown parkrun started on June 9, 2018 with 93 finishers.

It averages 76 finishers a week but post pause its numbers have avergaed at 59 a week. The run is two laps around the Queenstown Gardens.

The course

“It’s a gently undulating course but you get a little bit of everything, footpaths, trail, forest, lake views, mountain views,” says event director Chris Seymour.

“We have views of the Remarkables Mountains and they’re pretty and unrivalled.

“I’m not biased in any way but it’s a beautiful view, especially in winter if you have a clear day, with the snow-capped mountains across the lake.

“Our event is run through the botanical gardens then through a pine forest, so you pop out and go from super sunny to completely shaded.

“When you leave the forest, you get the view of the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

“Every tourist goes OMG when they see the mountains, it’s almost like you have to remember to turn.

‘You don’t want to get too stunned by the view and end up in the lake!”

The event cancels once a year for the Queenstown Marathon and is a 9am start in winter, along with Invercargill, Wanaka, Balclutha and Dunedin parkruns.


It was when Chris moved from Australia to New Zealand that Queenstown parkrun was born.

“I started running parkrun in Sydney. Before moving to New Zealand, I lived in Australia for eight years.

“I’d gotten into distance running and one of my colleagues was a triathlete. He said I should check out parkrun and told me how to find my closest event.

“After looking it up and thinking it was pretty cool, I joined in at St Peters parkrun in 2016 which was the first in Sydney. I loved it.

“Two years later my wife, Jamie, and I decided to move to Queenstown full time for a lifestyle change – we had some land and had built a holiday house.

“We started looking up the closest parkruns and there was none.

“I heard that Wanaka was going to start one and that town was smaller than Queenstown and still 100km away.

“I thought to myself “how could Queenstown be the tourism capital of the South Island and not have a parkrun?”

Getting started

“One reason I wanted to get to a parkrun was I didn’t know anyone and thought the running community was where I would meet like-minded people.

“I reached out to Noel and Lian from parkrun NZ through the normal channels and they told me they were coming to Wanaka and I should meet up with them.

“After Wanaka’s inaugural event before Noel and Lian were going to depart from Queenstown I offered to take them on the course.

“My wife and Lian had coffee at a potential parkrun café while I took Noel around Queenstown Gardens.

“He said he thought it would be the most beautiful course in all of New Zealand.”

After parkrun they wander over the road to Yonder Café on Church St, which offers discounts for parkrunners.

“I recommend their Vegan Cinnamon Scrolls! You would never know they were vegan!”

While in Queenstown

Explore the many surrounding trails and lakes or try out one of the many adventure activities.

Good places to visit are Cookie Time Cafe, Fat Badgers Pizza, Fork and Tap in Arrowtown and Fear Factory for New Zealand’s scariest attraction.

Queenstown has many cycle trails and wineries. Hire a bike and visit the wineries, or book onto an organised tour.

Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, visitors can visit the original Bungy site, go jetboating, skydiving or chill out in the Onsen pools.

What’s in a Name…

There are lots of theories as to how Queenstown got its name.

It was most likely named after Cobh in the Republic of Ireland which in 1849 was renamed Queenstown in honour of Queen Victoria (Cobh reverted to its current name in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence).

Its Māori name is Tāhuna, meaning shallow bay.

This was originally published in issue 4 of Runs With A Barcode magazine.