Five tonnes of South Korean mud will be imported to Rotorua for the first five Mudtopia Festivals, at a cost of about $90,000.
The Rotorua Lakes Council's mud powder supply agreement with the Boryeong Mud Festival Foundation was signed by Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick and Boryeong Mayor Kim Dong-il in South Korea last week.
The council will buy "five tonnes of the mud powder for use in the opening years for Mudtopia", council major events co-ordinator Jason Cameron confirmed yesterday in response to Rotorua Daily Post questions.
But Chadwick said the $90,000 was "not council spending".
The festival has received $1.5 million from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's major events development fund over five years for Mudtopia as well as support from sponsors and funders.
Chadwick said the deal with Boryeong could see Rotorua mud being exported to South Korea.
The Boryeong mud will make up about 16 per cent of the mud used in the inaugural Mudtopia Festival in Rotorua this December. The rest will come from a local quarry, rather than from any protected geothermal features.
The event will use about 10 tonnes of mud in the first year.
Cameron said the Boryeong mud is sourced from coastal areas of Daecheon Peninsula and will provide visitors to Mudtopia with a different type of mud for a "hands-on experience".
But he said Rotorua geothermal mud, in the form of thermal clay, would be the main attraction at Mudtopia. Council staff and contractors are working with the Ministry for Primary Industries on border requirements to bring the Boryeong mud powder into New Zealand.
"It will undergo stringent tests, radiation and heating treatment to ensure it meets the ministry's standards."
Chadwick said there were no plans to "take Boryeong's festival and plonk it in Rotorua".
"Our festival will be done the Rotorua way."
Mudtopia will be at the Rotorua racecourse from December 1-3 and will include a mud-arena, spa and wellness experiences, as well as a concert headlined by Kiwi band Shapeshifter. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.