Huge queues in Tauranga as Lotto fever strikes ahead of $44m must-win draw

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Queues of people buying Lotto tickets ahead of tonight's must-win draw are already stretching out the door at Bayfair Shopping Centre.

Bayfair Lotto store assistant Tracey Stent said people had been queuing since 8.50am and the queue had grown so long, it was now past the Kathmandu store at least 20m away at the shopping centre's entrance.

''We've had to put control areas out,'' she said.

''We've been crazy for weeks. It's out of this world,'' Stent said.

''We are excited. Everyone's happy, they are all chilled, they are all happy.''

Tonight's Lotto draw has jackpotted to $44 million, which must be won.

Stent said most customers wanted to see the money go to a well deserving family or be shared out among lots of people.

Lotto punter Ross Irvine said he wasn't very hopeful about taking out the big prize but ''you've got to be to win''.

Popular retailers throughout New Zealand have been overwhelmed with demand.

Lotto spokeswoman Kirsten Robinson said she expected more than two million tickets to sell and today to be the busiest day for sales.

"We expect high demand online at MyLotto and in Lotto stores around the country, so recommend anyone wanting a ticket gets in early to avoid having to wait in a queue.''

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