A week-long inaugural international mountain biking event involving more than 100 riders and $100,000 prize money starts this weekend.

The Kiwi Crusade begins and end on The Strand, and runs from Sunday until March 5.

The seven-day race involves teams of two riding about 680km from Tauranga, through the Western Bay region and up the Coromandel Peninsula, finishing back at Tauranga.

Read more: Mountain Biking: World-class endurance


Event founder and keen mountain biker Darryl Gove said "all systems are go" for the event to start on Sunday. There would be 88 competitors.

That included two-time Canadian Marathon National Champ Cory Wallace, three competitors from South Africa and one each from the United Kingdom and Thailand.

Mr Gove said work would start to clear the new track at McLaren Falls today.

The first of the seven stages was a prologue which involved a "fast and fun" 15km ride through McLaren Falls Park.

Mr Gove said the main race route started at Tauranga waterfront, and competitors would head over the Kaimai Range and down to Thames for their first night

Once competitors left the McLaren Falls track it would be opened up for public use, he said.

Mr Gove, a former competitive athlete from South Africa, said all the money from the event would be spent locally.

Entry costs teams $3600 with meals, tents and other supplies included.

Mr Gove said two local charities had come on board, Homes of Hope and Good Neighbour, which were supplying volunteers to assist with the logistics in and around the race.

Both charities would also be given the chance to market themselves and raise funds throughout the event as they saw fit, he said.

Mr Gove said there were similar mountain biking events across the world, but this was one of the first held in New Zealand, and it was great spectator event.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said having the event start and end on the Strand was tremendous.

"It's a big logistical exercise for the event organiser and I'm sure it will be built on going forward."

Mr Crosby said the organiser had approached the council for funding but the council did not grant it.

"The reason for that is virtually all of the event is outside Tauranga," he said.

Kiwi Crusade:

* What: A fully supported mountain bike stage race.

* Includes overnight camping at each stage at riders' villages

* When: February 28-March5

* Where: Tauranga to the Coromandel

* Who: Open for men, women, mixed and Kiwi teams of all levels of ability

* Registration information visit kiwicrusade.co.nz