Contestants in the first of the major Bay of Islands' midwinter events look likely to be covered in mud - in fact, it is essential.

The second annual Bay of Islands Beast Mud Run will cover 7km on rolling farmland near Haruru Falls on July 9. Entries at 800 this year are well up on last year's inaugural event and are now closed. Buses to the event will be provided for both runners and spectators from the Maritime Building in Paihia.

This year, Business Paihia has introduced a Community Street Party in Williams Rd following the Mud Run. Chairman Craig Johnston said the cross-country mud run attracted hundreds of visitors to the Bay of Islands at a time of year when business was usually slow for accommodation providers.

"Many people who take part in the two-day event leave the area when the event is over. We would like them to come on Friday night and stay on through Saturday night.


"Queenstown has its Winter Festival, which is very successful, and it's a lot colder in Queenstown than it is here."

The midwinter community street party was made possible by a $7000 grant from the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board. Mr Johnston said that took the pressure off Business Paihia to raise money to stage the event: "It means we can focus on organising the event and making it something everyone will enjoy."

The Beast Mud Run and street party are followed five days later by Russell's popular Birdman Festival.

To celebrate the milestone, organisers of the yearly splash fest have added another event to the four-day festival. Contestants, who must be over 16, can build their own boat, using supplied polypropylene boards and duct tape, and paddle it on Russell's beachfront. Water guns and flour bombs are permitted during the race but paddlers will be disqualified if they leave their boat to sabotage other vessels.

The Birdman Festival starts on Thursday, July 14, with various onshore community events. Saturday sees the corflute boat race in the morning and the birdman jump from Russell's wharf in the afternoon.

Organiser Pania Sigley said several contestants who had entered every event in the festival's 10-year history were planning their return this year.