The official ceremony to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race to Auckland is underway at the Viaduct.

The Auckland stopover for the race known as the greatest endurance test for sailors will run from today to March 15.

This is the ninth time Auckland has featured as a stopover in the 40 years the race has been run.

Racing within the harbour will feature as part of the stopover.

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Yachting enthusiast Chris Lyle has travelled from Russell to see the opening ceremony and be part of the action of the stopover.

Mr Lyle will skipper a yacht as part of the Try Sailing event in the stopover.

He said he had followed the race since it began in Spain and was excited about seeing the stage finish in Auckland.

"What's going to be really good is the finish, it's looking like it's going to be really close and on Saturday afternoon... what a spectacle," he said.

"Anything like this is just great for Auckland."

The team of about 100 staff of Volvo Ocean Race were formally welcomed to Auckland by Ngati Whatua.

Mayor Len Brown, Prime Minister John Key and MPs Steven Joyce and Nikki Kaye were present to welcome the race to the City of Sails.

Mr Key said New Zealand had a strong connection to the round the world race since Sir Peter Blake and Grant Dalton both won the race.

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He welcomed the Volvo Ocean Race as part of a big weekend in Auckland including the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival and the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Australia.

Volvo Ocean Race chief executive Knut Frostad said he had fond memories of arriving in Auckland.

He said there was 10 minutes between the top three boats currently.

"It looks like they'll be coming between 8pm and 12am (tomorrow) so they'll be rolling straight in to the bars in the Viaduct like we did 20 years ago," he said.

The team of about 100 staff of Volvo Ocean Race were formally welcomed to Auckland by Ngati Whatua.

Mayor Len Brown, Prime Minister John Key and MPs Steven Joyce and Nikki Kaye were present to welcome the race to the City of Sails.

Mr Key said New Zealand had a strong connection to the round the world race since Sir Peter Blake and Grant Dalton both won the race.

He welcomed the Volvo Ocean Race as part of a big weekend in Auckland including the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival and the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Australia.

Volvo Ocean Race chief executive Knut Frostad said he had fond memories of arriving in Auckland.

He said there was 10 minutes between the top three boats currently.

"It looks like they'll be coming between 8pm and 12am [tomorrow] so they'll be rolling straight in to the bars in the Viaduct like we did 20 years ago," he said.