For a group of old friends their New Year's reunion celebration at Tauranga races has become an annual tradition, which, they say, has helped to cement their friendships.
Among the 6000 punters taking in the action during the Interislander Summer Festival Raceday meeting yesterday were Alan Mestrom, from Melbourne; Prue Chapman, from London; Kasteel and Nic Craw, from Katikati; Sophie Vicars, of Auckland; and Dan and Jacinda Crothers, from Singapore.
Ms Chapman said: 'We're celebrating the New Year with a reunion get-together with old friends. We originally all came from here but now we're living in different places all over the world."
Mr Mestrom said each year he and many of their friends who returned home for New Year's celebrated with a relaxing day at Tauranga Racecourse.
"We have been coming here every year for years, maybe five to 10 years. It's a great place to get together when we come back home to socialise and catch up with each other's news," he said.
Since the friends last got together there had been a wedding, an engagement, and a pregnancy among the group to celebrate, Mrs Craw said.
"It's a great place for a reunion and we are likely to spend the whole day here, and are sure to end up at someone's place for a barbecue dinner afterwards."
Tauranga Racing Club is one of more than 30 clubs nationwide holding the Interislander Summer Festival events, which include free family entertainment.
The popular activities for under-12s had a fun equine theme, with "pin-the-tail-on-the-horse",
horseshoe toss, sack races, a scavenger hunt, lolly scramble and colouring-in competition.
Adults enjoyed the live music, local food and drink whilst studying the race form.
Ms Chapman said she and her friends were just social gamblers.
By the end of Race 4, winners' luck was yet to strike the group.
"So far I haven't won anything. Champagne Girl has not been my friend," quipped Ms Chapman.
Mr Mestrom said what made coming to the event special was the great family-friendly atmosphere, particularly the fun activities for the children.
Mrs Craw agreed.
"The atmosphere is awesome ... this is one of the best events Tauranga has got, in my opinion."