In Footsteps

US Marines in New Zealand

In Footsteps of the Marines

“Fall in, goddammit, on the double!”

We were off on our first hike in New Zealand.

‘A half-mile to the camp gate, then two miles down the highway and a right turn up the slowly winding dirt road. It twisted in a slow rise for nearly four miles. We called it the Little Burma road. From the top, fifteen hundred feet up, we could see the rolling green hills, small dotted farms, and in the distance the ocean. Then we raced over the hills … and through the woods until we wound up in back of Camp Mackay, and Paekākāriki, which we could see far below us.’

From Battle Cry by Leon Uris

US Marines in New Zealand

Leon Uris served in the South Pacific, where he was stationed at Camp Mackay, and fought as a radioman in combat on Guadalcanal and Tarawa from 1942 through 1945. In his first novel, Battle Cry, Uris described his war experiences. His most famous book was Exodus. Both were filmed.

US Marines in New Zealand

The Race

Since 2012 an annual event has been organised by Kāpiti Joggers and Walkers to retrace the 13 kilometre daily workout described in Battle Cry.

US Marines in New Zealand

In the Footsteps of the Marines provides a unique opportunity to run or walk in the hill country behind Camp Mackay, where the Marines trained in 1942-1943.

The courses include unsealed roads; bush, shingle and clay tracks; and farm roads. The route climbs over 300m and the high points offer spectacular views of the Kāpiti Coast. However, it is manageable for anyone with reasonable level of fitness.

Starting on the seaward side of the Whareroa Farm shelter, the course takes competitors towards the hills along a farm road, then on winding tracks up to Campbell’s Mill Road. Competitors then head north along the unsealed road. The short course for Social Walkers and Slow Joggers turns around at the saddle, while the Race Walkers and Runners’ long course continues on to the intersection of the Maungakotukutuku Hill Road and Campbell’s Mill Road and return the same way.

On both courses, participants come back to the entrance into Whareroa Farm. The descent through the farm follows a short bush trail and onto a zigzag track. More tracks and an unsealed farm road then take all competitors to the finish beside the Whareroa Shelter.

See map