Jono Ridler's Epic 99 km Open Water Swim: Raising Awareness for the Hauraki Gulf

Jono Ridler’s Epic 99 km Open Water Swim: Raising Awareness for the Hauraki Gulf

On Tuesday, 2nd May, at 10 am NZST, Jonathan Ridler embarked on his Swim4TheGulf marathon swim from Karaka Bay on Aotea Great Barrier Island. His goal was to raise awareness about the declining health of the Hauraki Gulf. Little did he know that this swim would become a record-breaking feat.

Jono Ridler is among the select few who have conquered New Zealand’s ‘Triple Crown’ of marathon swimming, including swimming 23km across Cook Strait in 2019, a 40.4km traverse of Lake Taupo in 2020, and a 28.6km crossing of Foveaux Strait in 2021.

Jonathan shattered New Zealand’s previous record for the longest continuous solo-unassisted open water swim when he reached the 81km mark. However, he didn’t stop there. Pushing himself further, Jonathan powered through to complete his swim at Campbells Bay in Auckland on Thursday, 4th May, around 7:30 pm local time. He covered an unofficial distance of 99.1km in an astonishing time of 33 hours and 15 minutes.

While Jonathan had originally planned to finish at Auckland’s Narrow Neck Beach, an unexpected building swell compelled him to adjust his route to minimize exposure to rough seas. As he approached the end of his grueling swim, Jonathan and his team faced challenging conditions, including 25 knot winds and a turbulent sea state. Therefore, they made the decision to head for land at Campbells Bay instead. This alteration increased Jonathan’s overall swimming distance to an impressive total of 99.1km.

Jono Ridler’s incredible accomplishment in completing the Swim4TheGulf not only adds to his impressive list of marathon swimming achievements but also highlights the urgency of protecting the Hauraki Gulf.

Jono adhered to the regulations outlined by the Marathon Swimmers Federation for solo-unassisted open-water marathon swims. This meant he swam without a wetsuit and was limited to a standard set of equipment.

Jono’s route will take him through some of the most beautiful and under-pressure parts of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. His starting point, Aotea Great Barrier Island, is battling a recent invasive seaweed infestation; then around Hauturu Little Barrier Island where out-of-control kina are grazing down the last kelp forests. In the inner Gulf, fishing pressure and pollutants washing off land are creating dead zones. Jono’s swim will not only highlight the issues but also give us hope that we have the capacity to do more and do better than we have in the past. We need much more marine protection and restoration to ensure a healthier Hauraki Gulf for the future.

Alex Rogers, Chief Executive of the Hauraki Gulf Forum

Photo credits: Jono Ridler Facebook