Auckland is to host the world's richest kayaking event in November.
The recently-opened artificial whitewater course, Vector Wero Whitewater Park in South Auckland, will host the inaugural $104,000 Whitewater XL New Zealand Invitational, featuring around 250 of the world's best canoe slalom exponents from November 20-27.
Race director John Snook, who is promoting the event at World Cup rounds in Spain and France, said the concept was an ideal way to put New Zealand kayaking on the international stage.
"New Zealand now has become a world-class training venue for paddlers and rafters and this event will be the perfect way to showcase that to a global audience," Snook said.
"We've been exporting our top whitewater talent around the world for years and the sport has been screaming out for an event like this for years so we're excited that we're now able to host it."
The WhitewaterXL has been timed to coincide with the start of the Northern Hemisphere winter, and a busy schedule of events in and around Auckland.
The format will feature a range of canoe slalom disciplines, in kayaks, canoes, teams races.
Canoe Slalom's profile in New Zealand is rising. Mike Dawson and Luuka Jones are representing New Zealand at the Rio Olympics, and a nine-strong team is currently contesting the World Cup series.
The week-long whitewater festival has attracted heavyweight backing from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development.