Two teams seem likely to vie for the supreme accolade at the Halberg Awards next month.
The finalists in the sportsman, woman, disabled sportsperson and sports team are in line for the top honour when it is announced on February 8.
Team New Zealand, for regaining the America's Cup, and the Black Ferns for winning the women's rugby World Cup are the standout contenders for both the top team and the top overall award.
Others in the frame include 2016 Halberg winner Lisa Carrington, who was again a standout on the canoe racing international circuit, including defending her world K1 200m crown, sharing the K2 500m title with Caitlin Ryan, and helping the K4 500m women to bronze among a four-medal haul at the world champs in the Czech Republic in August.
The four finalists in the teams category also include the Black Sox men's softball team who won the world title and the K2 500m women's crew.
Team New Zealand triumphed in their catamaran in Bermuda in the Cup regatta which produced the fastest racing in the event's storied history.
The Black Ferns won the New Zealand Rugby honour as team of the year and World Rugby's team of the year after winning their fifth World Cup title in August.
World champion shot putter Tom Walsh heads the sportsman category, in which motor racing driver Brendan Hartley, who graduated to Formula One this year, cricketer Ross Taylor and All Black Beauden Barrett are his fellow finalists.
Carrington has Black Ferns stars Portia Woodman and Sarah Goss, and golfer Lydia Ko for company in the sportswoman section.
The quartet in the disabled sportsperson caregory are para skier Corey Peters, athletes Holly Robinson and William Stedman and swimming champion Sophie Pascoe.
Carrington's longtime mentor Gordon Walker, who won the category last year, is among the four in line for the coach of the year honour, along with rowing's Gary Hay, Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore and Mark Sorenson, who guided the Black Sox to victory at the worlds.
Sportsman of the year: Tom Walsh (athletics), Ross Taylor (cricket), Brendan Hartley (motor sport), Beauden Barrett (rugby).
Sportswoman of the year: Lydia Ko (golf), Lisa Carrington (canoe racing), Portia Woodman (rugby), Sarah Goss (rugby).
Sports team of the year: Team New Zealand (yachting), Black Ferns (rugby), Black Sox (softball), women's K2 canoe (Lisa Carrington and Caitlin Ryan).
Disabled sportsperson of the year: Corey Peters (para alpine skiing), Holly Robinson (para athletics), Sophie Pascoe (para swimming), William Stedman (para athletics).
Coach of the year: Gary Hay (rowing), Gordopn Walker (canoe racing), Glenn Moore (rugby), Mark Sorenson (softball).
Also Emerging Talent fianlists: Ellesse Andrews (cycling), Josh Armit (yachting), Matthew MacDonald (rowing), Nico Porteous (freeskiing).