Organisers of the annual Vaka Eiva paddling event in Rarotonga are expecting a record number of overseas entries this year, despite the ongoing challenges of a slow economy.
About 700 paddlers will converge on the Muri Lagoon for the week-long event, including an expected 520 offshore competitors.
That's slightly more than the 500 that made the trip two years ago and the event co-ordinator, Victoria Dearlove, says it's especially pleasing in what are still tough economic times.
"We had some crews cancel from Christchurch, obviously after the terrible things that happened there earlier in the year. Also money-wise it's not as it was maybe three-four years ago, when it was far more buoyant and people had a bit more money to take trips like this so they're just saving harder and doing more fundraising and they're still coming, which we're delighted with"
The traditional blessing of the canoes will take place this afternoon with the first sprint races tomorrow morning.