Two-hundred and forty Kiwis, along with 75 overseas visitors, have donned their cycle kit to take part in the Tour of New Zealand.

The eight-day bike tour began on Saturday with one party starting from Cape Reinga and the other at Bluff.

Riders from the North Island leg departed Cape Reinga on Saturday en route to the Wellington finish line.

The participants left Dargaville yesterday with the aim of tracking east toward Mangawhai Heads.

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Today they will leave Mangawhai with the target of ending up in Pukekohe.

The Tour of New Zealand is a multi-day cycle race like no other, as it features cyclists riding the length of one of New Zealand's main islands.

North and South Island races run simultaneously, each covering about 100km per day for seven days.

On the eighth and final day all cyclists from North and South will meet in Wellington for a head-to-head race around Parliament grounds.

Race organiser Peter Yarrell says "this is the third Tour of New Zealand and each year we've seen participation interest grow tremendously".

"There aren't many other opportunities out there like this and it's a great way to see the beauty that New Zealand offers."

The tour isn't all about peddle-pushing though.

"The tour is a fantastic way to explore the country and give something new a go," he said.

"We have tourists flying in from overseas especially to get involved or timing their trip to New Zealand to make sure it coincides with the tour."

The final leg of the race, on April 18 around Parliament grounds, is open to spectators.