Tara Mulvany


We are delighted to welcome Tara to our virtual stage. She is everything we love about NZ adventurers; tough as guts, humble as hell, and she just quietly gets on with being epic.

Tara enjoyed a Southland upbringing, exploring the outdoors as Kiwi kids do. She enjoyed time in the mountains with her family and was not afraid of the odd bridge jump or rope swing. After high school, she took an outdoor recreation course, where she fell in love with white water kayaking. This provided her with a new mode of exploration and sparked a lifelong love affair with paddling. This transformed into summer work as a sea kayak guide in Fiordland and opened up the world of long, self-supported sea kayak expeditions.

In late May 2012 Tara circumnavigated the South Island by kayak. The following year she paddled alone around both Stewart Island and the North Island, becoming the first woman to circumnavigate New Zealand’s three main islands by sea kayak. By mid 2014, Tara had circumnavigated Vancouver Island, and then, in 2015, was part of a small team who completed the first ever kayak circumnavigation of Svalbard Archipelago in the high Arctic.

During this 71-day adventure, they paddled with walrus and whales, negotiated pack ice, navigated long open-water crossings in thick fog and had many encounters with polar bears. It was on this journey that she developed a love of the polar regions, for their wild, barren landscapes, the midnight sun, and the unique wildlife.

The following year, she was drawn again above the Arctic circle, paddling 3600km alone along Norway’s coast, eventually reaching the Swedish border 89 days later. Her most recent adventure involved kayaking for three months along Greenland’s west coast.

This quiet solo adventurer will be chatting at our festival about her Svalbard trip in the high Arctic.