This year's 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza was the biggest in the competition's history, according to organiser John Stewart. And he expects next year's to be even more popular.

"It's been eight years since we took over from the Snapper Classic, and every year it has grown in competitor numbers, from 600 in the early days to almost a sell-out in 2018," he said.

"It's hard to gauge exact numbers, as a lot of sponsors' tickets don't always turn up, but I'm pretty sure we had more than 930 anglers on the beach this year. One thing I do know is that we had to turn away people who thought they could just turn up and get tickets late on registration day."

Tickets for 2019 were already selling strongly, "and for the first time ever I can honestly say, get in quick or you may miss out", he added. (The competition starts on March 12).
The other big news was that the five-day competition now had a new naming rights sponsor in Ngai Takoto.


"This is massive for the event," Mr Stewart said.

"The iwi has committed to three years' sponsorship, giving us security that we have never had before, meaning we can start marketing future events as soon as 2019 is over."

Ngai Takoto CEO Rangitane Marsden said there was no doubting the extent to which the competition benefited the Far North economy, but it was also an opportunity for international branding of the iwi's story.

Given the huge numbers of people from around New Zealand and overseas who fish the competition, it's a good opportunity to highlight the special features that Te Hiku has to offer those from outside the region," he said.

Meanwhile the process of inviting this year's contestants to buy their 2019 tickets before October 26, and to reserve their 'lucky number' for another year, had begun.

Tickets were once again selling for $275 until January 31, after which they would cost $320.

All tickets sold before January 31 would go into a draw for a Seahorse Kontiki package worth $4575.

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