New additions are set to take the Compressport Mount Festival of Multisport to the next level, which kicked off yesterday with a range of athletic and community events scheduled for Mount Maunganui.

The festival's headline event, the iconic Port of Tauranga Half, starts this morning along with two new events - the Enduro and the Höpt Soda Aqua Bike.

Ten-time race winner Cameron Brown will return looking to claim his 11th Port of Tauranga Half title which he last won in 2014.

His main competition was expected to come from the country's rising star of long-distance triathlon, Mike Phillips, who recorded the world's fastest debut in an Ironman event when coming second at the Barcelona Ironman last September.

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He backed up this performance with a victory in the Taupo 70.3 event in December.

Defending champ of the women's field, Amelia Watkinson, will be returning this weekend.

She started 2017 with her second consecutive title in the Port of Tauranga Half before going on to win seven events in Asia.

For athletes wanting to push themselves even further than the traditional half triathlon, the Enduro would provide a challenge of a 3km swim, 120km bike and a 25km run, which was the first race of this distance in New Zealand.

The Aqua Bike provided an entry for newbies into the world of triathlons by dropping the extra challenge of the run with a 1.3km swim followed by a 45km bike.

Mount Festival of Multisport organiser Lauren Watson said the new events added to the festival this year were to cater to everyone's abilities. Photo/ John Borren
Mount Festival of Multisport organiser Lauren Watson said the new events added to the festival this year were to cater to everyone's abilities. Photo/ John Borren

Festival director Lauren Watson said the different events were to cater to everyone's ability.

"We wanted to create an event where all members of the community could participate in and enjoy. From your seasoned Ironman athlete down to people just getting into fitness and achieving the 5km Under Armour Mount Run."

Watson said around 700 people had registered for events ahead of this weekend, which was similar to the number of people who entered last year.

"These [Enduro registrations] have absolutely exceeded our expectations for year one. There have been upgrades from Port of Tauranga Half participants into Enduro looking for a new challenge but equally as strong is the full Ironman distance athletes looking for a longer distance event to help them train," she said.

The swimming leg of the main events was set to take place at Pilot Bay, which had been given the all clear ahead of Saturday.

On January 13, the Tauranga City Council urged the public to not enter the water at Pilot Bay due to wastewater contamination, but after follow-up water quality tests, water levels were said to be safe.

"We are working closely with the council on this and all predictions look like the bay will be 100 per cent safe on Saturday," Watson said.

Other events in the festival included the Under Armour Mount Run and the Mount Maunganui Beach Volleyball Open where New Zealand's top players and Commonwealth Games contenders will be battling it out on Mount Main Beach.

Watson said the Mount Festival of Multisport "will be one event which the public can watch or participate in at one of New Zealand's most popular summer destinations."

The Compressport Mount Festival of Multisport

Friday, January 19

4.30pm-8.30pm - The Street Food Union (Coronation Park)

Saturday, January 20
6am-5pm - Enduro (Pilot Bay)
7.30am-4pm - Port of Tauranga Half (Pilot Bay)
8.25am-1pm - Hopt Soda Aquabike (Pilot Bay)
9am-2pm - The Little Big Market (Coronation Park)
9am-4.30pm - Mt Maunganui Beach Volleyball Open (Main Beach)
2pm-4pm - Under Armour Mount Run (Pilot Bay)
6pm - Prizegiving - Port of Tauranga Half and Enduro (Mount Drury)
8.30pm - Night Owl Cinema – "The World's Fastest Indian" (Mount Drury)

Sunday, January 21
9am-4.30pm - Mount Maunganui Beach Volleyball Open (Main Beach)