Former Black Sticks captain Kayla Whitelock is confident she can return to form as she eyes a seat on the plane to Rio later this year.

Her first stop on the road to Rio will be the Hawke's Bay Hockey Festival.

The tournament will attract teams from all over the world, including eight nations who have already qualified for the Olympics in Rio.

The veteran said it's "pretty awesome" to have a tournament of this calibre in our own backyard.


"Making the squad and then making the team for that tourney is the focus at the moment."

Whitelock made the Black Sticks at the tender age of 18 and has racked up more than 200 appearances.

The wife of Crusader and one test All Black George Whitelock, took a year off for the birth of their now nine-month-old daughter Addison.

While she said having a baby wasn't exactly a break, she was looking forward to some hockey.

Her daughter had already made a number of trips to the turf to watch mum in action.

"She's (Addison) come with me to a few National Hockey League games and she's pretty good.

"She also goes to both sets of grandparents and my sisters in Palmy are great babysitters so I'm pretty lucky."

While she found it tough leaving her behind, Whitelock also needed to get her fitness levels back up to speed.

"It took a while but now I am feeling good," she said.

She hopes to make a tournament in Argentina at the end of February.

She said the Black Sticks had been tracking very well and playing some good hockey in her absence.

"They've been going pretty well.

"During the last tour to Argentina they made the final which was a huge accomplishment. I think it's just about fine tuning a few things."

With the Rio Olympics fast approaching, Whitelock said every other team would be stepping up so it was going to be a big year ahead.

An Olympic medal was the goal.

"It's not going to be easy to make that final 16, it's a strong squad so it's going to be a good challenge."