Trail safety

Ensuring your safety - 
  1. Slips, trips and falls

    Oxfam Trailwalker is a tough event. Some of the trail covers difficult terrain with tricky footing. Numerous hazards such as small rocks, fallen branches and tree roots are realities of the trail. It is easy to slip, trip and fall, so take care at all times, so keep your eye of the path ahead. 

  2. Nightwalking

    Walking at night requires special vigilance and focus on the part of all team members to reduce the risk of injury. All team members should carry a torch with extra batteries, wear a reflective jacket and take spare warm clothes and food/drinks.


  3. First aid

    First aiders will be stationed at each checkpoint and aid station during the event. However, each team is advised to carry a first aid kit for use between checkpoints. The first aid kit should include pressure bandages to treat injuries such as sprains, blisters and cuts and a thermal blanket for each team member. Should a medical emergency occur between checkpoints, you must ring the Medical officer on the number on the back of your bibs and an extraction team from Land Search and Rescue will come and assist and take you off the trail for St Johns to respond to the medical situation.


  4. Tiredness

    You should ensure you take adequate rest stops during the event. The desire to finish the event should never override the need for personal safety. To prevent exhaustion, your team’s pace should be guided by the fitness of the least-fit team member. You are as fast as your slowest team member and you must stay together at all times


  5. Road crossings

    The trail crosses numerous roads throughout the route. Oxfam Trailwalker endeavours to provide marshals at all road crossings during the event. However, we ask participants to take special care at all road crossings or walking on the shoulders of the road. All normal road rules apply


  6. Bushfire prevention

    To avoid any potential risk of bushfire, participants are required to adhere to bushfire regulations as if it were bushfire season, including not smoking or lighting fires.  If bushfire affects the trail during the event, participants will be notified either at the nearest checkpoint, via mobile phone or by trail safety crews. 


  7. Wind storms

    You will be walking through both native and exotic forests which may drop their limbs in high winds. As the trails pass through these areas, please be extremely cautious during gusting or gale-force wind days, as the chances of falling limbs are very real. Should winds reach levels that are considered dangerous, the trail may be closed and you would be informed by mobile phone or notifications through your OTW mobile app.


  8. Checkpoints

    Checkpoints are the key points on the trail for teams to check in and check out,  rest and refuel before starting on the next leg. Although they are your sanctuaries there are hazards associated with them. Be sure to keep an eye out for support crew vehicle entering and exiting the checkpoints. We recommend you don’t sleep, only rest and recuperate before heading off on the next leg.




Blisters are the number one reason people don't finish Oxfam Trailwalker. Don't let this be you!

Preventing blisters and generally looking after your feet is so important we’ve devoted a whole page to it. Check out the foot care page here.


Chafing is one of the most common discomforts in Oxfam Trailwalker. Methods of prevention include:

  • Underarms, nipples and legs are all prone to chafing. Put band-aids over the nipples and apply Vaseline to the other areas.
  • Chafing between the thighs can be tackled with bike shorts or by shaving the affected areas and applying tape such as Leucoplast.
  • Wear a base layer of clothing that pulls perspiration away from your body. This helps with both chafing and reduces chills from sweating.

Health precautions

Your personal condition at event time

Your ability to safely complete Oxfam Trailwalker can be greatly impacted by your personal condition at the time of the event.

Factors to consider

  • Recovering from or suffering from an illness
  • Overseas travel within 48 hours of the event
  • Recent participation in another endurance event
  • Fast shallow breathing
  • Big night out within the week of the event


  • Avoid long distance air travel within 48 hours of the event
  • Avoid participating in other endurance events within 2 - 3 weeks of the event
  • Avoid late nights and high alcohol intake in the week prior to the event


Hypothermia is a condition in which your core body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius. If left untreated, hypothermia can ultimately result in heart failure and death.


  • Fatigue
  • Shivering
  • Muscle spasms
  • Clammy skin
  • Stammering
  • Hallucinations


  • Have warm clothes ready and be prepared for dramatic temperature drops during the event
  • Have additional warm clothes ready for cold night time walking
  • Carry or have your support crew carry a change of clothes in the event you get wet
  • At checkpoints when you rest, either cover up or change out of damp, sweaty clothes to avoid catching a chill

If you become hypothermic, change out of wet clothes immediately; cover your head, face, neck and body with warm clothing; consume hot drinks and high calorie food to maintain body temperature and seek medical help at the nearest checkpoint.


Dehydration is the condition of having insufficient fluid in your body tissues. Dehydration is a serious risk in such a long and strenuous event and can lead to impaired performance, vomiting and in very extreme cases, muscle failure potentially resulting in death.


  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Tight/heavy feeling muscles
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth and lips

Note that symptoms of dehydration are only apparent when you are already dehydrated. Symptoms are very similar to those of hyponatremia.


  • Drink electrolyte drinks instead of, or in addition to, water. Participants should try electrolyte drinks during training and ensure they can drink it comfortably.
  • Monitor your urine and make sure you are urinating at regular intervals and that the urine is light yellow to clear. If you are not urinating or your urine is dark in colour, you may be dehydrated.


A potentially fatal condition, hyponatremia most often occurs in exercise lasting four hours or longer and results primarily from consuming excessive fluids. It is exacerbated by not replacing sodium losses. Severe cases may involve seizures, increased intracranial pressure, fluid in the lungs and respiratory arrest. To avoid sodium depletion, replace fluids with electrolytes.


  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lack of coordination

Note these symptoms are very similar to those for dehydration.


  • Monitoring your fluid intake. Drink enough fluid so that you do not feel thirsty and so that you are urinating at normal periods. If urination becomes frequent and clear coloured, you may be drinking too much.
  • Drinking electrolyte sports drinks instead of water. Electrolyte drinks contain salts and thereby assist in maintaining the correct salt balance in your body. Participants should try electrolyte drinks during training and ensure they can drink it comfortably.
  • Use sports dinks at 50% concentration in the 2-3 days pre-event in preference to water to pre-hydrate. Normal intake should be approximately 5ml / kg (i.e., 375ml if you weigh 75kg) five times per day for base hydration.

If you experience any of the symptoms of hyponatremia , consult the medical staff at the nearest checkpoint. DO NOT PROCEED and DO NOT simply continue to drink water.

Your questions answered

Key dates

  • Oxfam Trailwalker 2019: 23-24 March
  • Whakatāne Awards tbc
  • Auckland Awards tbc
  • Wellington Awards tbc 

*dates subject to change