The Bay of Plenty is relishing a mini-economic boom this week, hosting an event that is now officially bigger than the Commonwealth Games.
The annual AIMS Games for intermediate-aged students has attracted more than 8000 young people from 260 schools all over New Zealand, many of whom have gone to extreme lengths to get there.
One group spent more than a year fundraising before hopping on two flights to get to the event.
Nineteen sporting codes will feature this week at venues across Mt Maunganui and Tauranga, including sailing for the first time.
"I'd say 99 percent of these kids will never get to compete in anything this big again," says tournament director Vicki Semple. "The only thing bigger is the Olympics."
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