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It was literally a field of dreams. Through the efforts of several local athletics enthusiasts and the generosity of the Nelson City and Tasman District Councils, the cattle field adjacent to Saxton Field was turned into the first athletics track facility on the top of the South Island. The installation of the $1.2 million 400-metre Mondo track surface was started in October of 2009, the first workout took place in March 2010, athletics moved from the grass track at Trafalgar Park, and the first official meet was held in November 2010.
The track and field facility is overlooked by mountains on one side and the sea on the other. A row of tall trees helps block the prevailing north wind. The facility has dual long jump pits along the homestretch, pole vault runway along the backstretch, an outer steeplechase pit, and four throwing circles on the infield. There is a grass warmup area adjacent to the track, which is surrounded by a large grassy bank.

More than a dozen meets – including the Harold Nelson Classic, the Mahar Cup, and the Tasman Secondary Schools Athletics Championships have been held at the Saxton Field Athletics Track. Saxton Track also has hosted the New Zealand Junior 3,000m Championships, the New Zealand Masters Championships, the Colgate Games, and the South Island Secondary Schools Athletics Championships.


Construction of the $3.7 million Saxton Athletics/Cricket Pavilion is expected to begin this spring with the completion slated for winter 2011. The cylinder-shaped, one-story building stretches the entire length of the straightway. Seating in front of the pavilion can accommodate 500 spectators.The pavilion is complete with changing rooms, showers, athletes and officials lounge, kitchen, bar, control room, offices, storage, and training/massage room.


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The Sports House at the Saxton Stadium is the headquarters for the National Academy of Distance Running. The Sports House contains offices, a large conference room, meeting rooms, lunch room, copy/fax machines, information desk, and a reference library. NADR coach/director Greg Lautenslager has his office in the Sports House and meets with his athletes here. Athletes also have access to the changing rooms and showers in Saxton Stadium.


National Academy of Distance Running athletes have access to a wide array of large playing fields in Nelson. The fields play a crucial role in the development of the runners as they are used for various fartlek and repetition workouts.

Saxton Field

Saxton encompasses numerous fields and loops can extend to 3km. The loop around the field with television mast is exactly 800m. This can be extended to 1000m with a small loop around the adjacent softball fields. The fields are lined with a small forested area with trails winding between the trees. The 2km lap around Saxton is a popular warmup loop for fartlek and track workouts.

Garin Fields

Actually a part of Saxton Field, these fields are located 1km from the Saxton Field Athletics Track and adjacent to Garin College. The flat, grassy loop is 740m and often used during athletics season for repetition workouts when athletes aren’t training on the track.

Greenmeadows Park

About 3km from Saxton Field, Greenmeadows is a perfect location for runners’ warmup and warmdown. The rectangular park is 930m around and has an eight-metre high bank down the centre and stretching the width of the park. Within 400m of the park and through the adjacent forest trail of Isel Park is the Kakenga Street hill, a steep 180-metre rise that is used for hill sprints. The park is used for cross country workouts and early athletics season fartlek sessions.

The Botanics

Just below the Centre of New Zealand is a small, quaint field that is 400m around. Fartlek and interval-type sessions are held here, and often the steep paths that weave through the heavily wooded slopes the Centre of New Zealand hill are incorporated into the workouts.