Olympic Games selection spots will be on the line at the UCI Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Rotorua.
The event will take place in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest from today until Sunday, with up to 500 riders expected to compete in four events.
Chairman of the event organising committee, Dave Donaldson, said this was the public's best chance of seeing elite mountain bike riders in action before the Olympic Games in London in August.
"This is a huge event on the international mountain biking calendar because it's an early season opportunity to pick up vital UCI points," he said.
"These points affect a rider's ranking for future events and there's added hype this year because Olympic qualifying is up for grabs."
The cross-country event is the only Olympic Games mountain bike discipline and this race will be tomorrow at the Redwood Memorial Grove on Long Mile Road.
Two female New Zealanders are vying for Olympic selection this year, Karen Hanlen from Whakatane, and Rosara Joseph from Christchurch. If they beat their Australian counterparts, they might both be London-bound, Donaldson said.
He tipped that other key competitors to watch out for were Rotorua's Dirk Peters, the 2012 elite men's national champion, and Lewis Hamilton who is the under-19 downhill champion.
Rotorua has hosted the Oceania championships twice before, in 2004 and 2006.
The event alternates across the Tasman each year but Rotorua is hoping to be the sole New Zealand host in future because of the superb trails and facilities.