The chances of an Australian winning next year's Ngai Takoto 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza were increasing by the day, organising spokesman John Stewart said yesterday.
The contest had long enjoyed support from Australia, and elsewhere around the world, he said, but recent weeks had seen an unprecedented surge in interest from the other side of the Tasman.
"We are going to have an invasion of Australians," he said.
"I would guess that we're seeing twice as much interest from overseas than we have in past years, and I'm expecting that to continue.
"We've probably got about 270 tickets left at this stage, and the contest is still more than five months away."
The last two competitions had been sell-outs, he added, and every indication was that next year's would be too.
"Certainly the days of locals waiting to see what the weather was going to be like for the week of the contest before buying tickets have long gone," he said.
The five-day tournament, believed to be the biggest surfcasting competition in the world, will begin on Tuesday March 17, with a maximum of 1000 competitors. The heaviest snapper will be worth $30,000, and closest to the average weight $10,000, from a cash prize pool of more than $72,000, while spot prizes worth more than $100,000, including a $50,000 four-wheel-drive, will be won.