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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Super-fit Kiwis prove good sports

Whether on the water or in the wilderness, New Zealanders love their leisure time. Six major sporting events in the first half of 2018 showcase some of New Zealand's most beautiful regions and offer something for everyone, whether participants or spectators.

Tarawera 100-Miler, Rotorua, February 10-11

The annual Tarawera 100-Mile Endurance Run is for hard-core athletes only.

The event is restricted to 1250 entrants and comes with demanding fitness requirements.

Runners from over 50 countries will flock to compete in one of the most prestigious ultra-running races in the world - starting at 4am in downtown Rotorua.

The course winds through redwood forests, past geothermal features and pristine lakes and along rugged hill tracks and forestry roads. Podium winners usually finish in 14-15 hours; stragglers, who run continuously from day into night and into the next day again can take up to 36 hours.

For those wanting less punishment, there are 102km, 87km and 62km races.

Volvo Ocean Race, Auckland, February 24-March 18

Auckland, with more sailing craft per capita than any city on earth, is known as the "City of Sails". The current and former America's Cup capital, New Zealand's waterside metropolis is also a stopover for the world’s toughest round-the-world ocean race.

For three and a half weeks in February and March, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will be in Auckland where the sailing-mad city is establishing a race village with a busy programme of celebrations, practice races, seminars and other events.

Among the many free attractions will be dockside displays of Volvo Ocean 65 monohulls, close-up peeks at the preparations for the next gruelling leg of the race around Cape Horn to Itajai in Brazil, and ”The Grinding Challenge”, which lets visitors experience how much muscle is needed to raise a sail.

ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, March 1-4, Queenstown

New Zealand's top pro-am golf event lures competitors from around the world - 140 amateurs and 140 professionals, chasing NZ$1.1 million in prize money.

The two venues for the event underscore Queenstown’s status as a world-class golfing destination. The Hills course is laid out across a glacial valley with dramatic elevation changes, while Millbrook Resort offers 27 testing holes.

With snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, the tournament will be played over four days.

Crankworx, Rotorua, March 17-25
New Zealand is a global mecca for mountain biking enthusiast, over 1,000 of whom will compete on the gnarly downhill trails at Gravity Park in Rotorua.

The first annual stop on the Crankworx World Tour mountain biking circuit, Rotorua brings the world's best downhill, slopestyle and enduro riders together.

Now a major fixture on the New Zealand sporting calendar, Crankworx is a family-friendly affair with Kidsworx competitions and concerts and exhibitions that spill out across the city.

Golden Oldies Festival, Christchurch, April 1-29

"Fun, Friendship and Fraternity" is the motto of the Golden Oldies festivals for sportspeople aged 35-plus that are held every two years at different venues around the globe.

For the first time in the history of the Golden Oldies movement, all 10 of its sports - basketball, cricket, football, golf, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby, softball and squash - will be held in the same city and in the same month. 

New Zealand's second-largest city, the Commonwealth Games host in 1974, is expected to welcome 9,000 participants and about 4,000 supporters and officials.

Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay Marathon, May 12
Starting on the oceanside promenade of the city of Napier on the sunny east coast of the North Island, the flat, easy-running 42km marathon course winds through the vineyards, olives groves and quiet country roads of Hawke's Bay's famed wine and food country to the finishing line in the vineyards of Sileni Estates winery.

The serious event also has a fun side with a half-marathon, 10km run (and walk) and a 3km kids’ run following parts of the course.

Afterwards, thousands of local and international visitors stay on to enjoy the world-class food and wine, Art Deco architecture, beaches and wildlife of one of New Zealand's must-see regions.

For details see

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