Some of the world's best adventure racers will compete in next week's GODZone race in the Tasman region.
Race director Warren Bates says the field is the most competitive yet and picking the top five teams will not be easy.
The seven days of adventure racing that is GODZone Chapter Five will play out across such diverse landscape as exposed alps, deep valleys, extensive cave networks and endless golden beaches.
The course carves through the Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Parks with the Buller, Motueka, Takaka and Wairoa rivers providing plenty of fearsome water action.
While a temperate climate will cause some racers to breathe easy, the Tasman region has produced a formidable cadre of strong adventure racers and a good handful of these bring local knowledge of terrain and conditions to the start line. This hasn't escaped Bates' notice.
"For starters, I pick team Swordfox with Stu Lynch and Brent Edwards, both world champions. With adventure racing pedigree and locals Naomi Whitehead and Ash Whitehead, they have a distinct advantage."
Bates also ranks the Yealand's Family Wines team with Chris Forne.
"If you have Chris Forne in an adventure race and you don't pick his team to win, then it's a very bold call. Chris is the world's best navigator, day or night makes no difference to him. The question is can his teammates keep up?"
US team Adventure Medical Kits race GODZone for the first time, led by Kyle Peter, who Bates describes as "one of the hungriest adventure racers in the world".
All-women's team Seagate - Sophie Hart, Lara Prince, Emily Forne and Fleur Pawsey - have all put in strong performances in previous teams but are racing together for the first time.
Queenstown's RebelFood team are in an enviable place mentally, Bates believes.
"They are very experienced, have a lot of ability but appear not too worried about what lies ahead, which is a good place to be mentally in a race of this nature," says Bates. "I expect they will be in the top five."
Ryan Thompson's team, BivouacInov8, will be looking to capitalise on racing every GODZone chapter. The team were fourth last year and while Thompson hopes to better that, he is pragmatic about the challenges an expedition-length race holds.
"Sure, it's helpful knowing how to organise our suppliers and manage transitions, and having the confidence we can last the distance. But there are so many variables when you are adventure racing, you don't know what is going to happen."
One question all GODZone teams are asking is what is first up for them in Chapter Five.
"Traditionally we do not announce the start line until the day of the race. The Nelson-Tasman region offers a plethora of incredible locations and Chapter Five is going to be like no other GODZone before," says Bates.
What: 6 or 7-day Adventure Race
When: April 2-9
Where: Kaiteriteri, Tasman Region
For more information: godzoneadventure.com