The magic of Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest will be celebrated with the launch of a new event, the Winter Forest Festival this weekend.
The festival is replacing the Winter Mountain Bike Series and features running, walking, gravel road cycling and mountain biking events.
NDuro Events director Tim Farmer said the new festival was a celebration of the forest, as mountain biking and running are the most popular recreational uses of the unique terrain.
"The key objectives of the festival are to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of our community by means of physical activity in a positive environment. We are also striving to have a positive economic impact for the Rotorua economy during the low season," Farmer said.
"The festival has exceeded our forecast by 109 per cent with nearly 4000 attendees over two days in the world famous Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, without any major partners supporting the inaugural event."
We Run the Forest and Gravel Royale will be held on Saturday while the Winter Mountain Bike Classic is on Sunday with an expo, food and a DJ throughout the weekend.
We Run the Forest includes 21km, 10km and 5km run or walk options while the Gravel Royale offers 17km and 42km road cycling options. The Winter Mountain Bike Classic includes 15km, 30km, E Bike and 45km mountain bike courses.
We Run the Forest and Gravel Royale have sold out, with limited entries are still available for the Winter Mountain Bike Classic.
The Winter Mountain Bike Classic has taken over the Winter Mountain Bike Series and has exceeded previous years' entries, while there has been significant growth in entries for We Run the Forest as well.
Ninety-three per cent of Winter Forest Festival participants are travelling from out of Rotorua, with the top three cities represented being Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.
Registration for all events start at 5pm on Friday. For more information go to www.forestfest.co.nz