The Waikato will host the International Dragon Boat Festival in 2022, attracting up to 5000 paddlers, plus their support crew, family and friends to the region.
The International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission (IBCPC) has announced the festival will take place at Mighty River Domain, Lake Karapiro, with other events and side trips centred around Hamilton, Cambridge and the wider Waikato region. Exact dates have not been announced.
IBCPC worldwide president Meri Gibson of Christchurch is behind the bid to bring the regatta to New Zealand.
"This will be very big, bigger than big. The expectation is that there could be up to 5000 breast cancer paddlers invading New Zealand to come and compete in this event," says Gibson.
"This is a massive undertaking. I had to step aside from any involvement in the decision and site assessment process regarding the event venue as I was the sole bidder for New Zealand.
"I did this on my own with enormous help from Nicola Greenwell of Hamilton and Waikato Tourism. Go the Mighty Waikato," says Gibson.
She says she's absolutely thrilled the festival will come to New Zealand.
"Being up against countries from across the globe on various continents made this even more special to win the bid."
CEO of Hamilton & Waikato Tourism, Jason Dawson, and his team are excited to have the event coming here.
Dawson said attracting such a major event to the region during the shoulder season is a key objective of the Regional Major Events Strategy.
"We are proud to to showcase our region as the home of international sporting events," he said.
Waipa District Councillor and CEO of Mighty River Domain at Lake Karapiro, Liz Stolwyk, is thrilled to see the event coming to the Waipa District.
"Receiving the news that we would be hosting our first International Dragon Boat event was incredible," Stolwyk said.
"This event is something very, very special and I know the community will be thrilled to support such an extraordinary event."
Mystery Creek Events Centre will be one of the main venues for various events associated with the regatta.
"We are honoured to be able to host parts of this fantastic and look forward to being part of this very special festival," CEO Peter Nation said.
Travel and accommodation partners Orbit World Travel are busy securing accommodation across the region.
Orbit's Groups and Events special projects manager Andrea Russell said: "Orbit is honoured to be working with the IBCPC Festival 2022 team in providing a seamless travel experience on the ground whilst showcasing not only the beautiful Waikato region to the participants but also the rest of New Zealand."
The event will be pink, pink and then still more pink.
"This event will be incredible for not just the region but the whole of the country," Gibson says.
"These paddlers know how to spend money and they will be visiting for much longer than the six days of the festival.
"This festival coming to New Zealand will be an incredible boost to the economy of the region with visitors from the 25-plus countries, across six continents that are represented by IBCPC.
"For many this will be the trip of a lifetime, a bucket-list must-visit country," Gibson said.