The Aotearoa Bike Challenge, which encourages New Zealanders to hop on their bikes, returns this February.

The NZ Transport Agency has partnered with Sport Bay of Plenty and Love To Ride to bring back the Aotearoa Bike Challenge for its third year.

The month-long workplace challenge, taking place in February, encourages New Zealanders to hop on their bikes and log their rides to be in to win some great national prizes valued at over $11,000 with additional prizes just for Bay of Plenty residents including a $50 voucher to My Ride Mt Maunganui and bike gear from Cyclezone Rotorua.

Last year's challenge saw more than 990 people from 130 organisations in the Bay of Plenty region take part.

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These ranged from small to large workplaces, including Red Stag Timber, Rotorua police, Trustpower and Tauranga City Council to name a few.

During last year's challenge participants from across New Zealand made more than 161,000 trips by bike and cycled an impressive 2.1 million km in only one month.

The challenge is part of the transport agency's commitment to helping people get around by bike with a focus on investing in connected cycling networks as part of a wider transport system.

NZTA acting senior manager system design Kevin Reid said the benefits of cycling included healthier people, less congestion and reduced carbon emissions.

"Businesses and organisations have a key role to play in encouraging more people to choose a bike as a transport choice.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Sport Bay of Plenty to bring the Aotearoa Bike Challenge to Tauranga and surrounds. It's great to see the continued support of so many businesses in the Bay of Plenty region who get on board with the challenge each year," he said.

Tauranga City Council's transportation manager Martin Parkes has been busy encouraging his colleagues and local residents to sign up for the challenge.

"We've had a strong uptake in the community for cycling over the last 18 months to two years, and the Aotearoa Bike Challenge fits nicely with our own desire as an organisation to see more of our own staff cycling to and from work everyday.

"A lot of my colleagues who are cycle commuting say they're feeling healthier, they've dropped weight and they've got more energy throughout the day."

Participating in the challenge is easy and the range of prizes are a great motivator to get people riding bikes. To take part, people must register and record trips online. People only need to ride 10-minutes to participate.

For this year's challenge, a points-based system has been introduced.

Both an individual participant and their workplace team can earn points for every mile cycled, every day someone rides a bike, and for every person that has been encouraged to sign-up.

Every point matters, and everyone in a workplace can contribute to their team's total points.

Aotearoa Bike Challenge starts on February 1 and continues until February 28. Participants must register online at www.lovetoride/bop.

What: Aotearoa Bike Challenge
Who: Workplaces nationwide (and their employees)
When: February 2019
Cost: Free
How: Register at www.aotearoa.bike

Prizes include: Ride the Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track on a 7 Day Mountain Bike Tour with Haka Tours (valued at $4000), winning an e-bike conversion kit (valued at $1400), and many more. See the full list of prizes here.