While Melbourne Cup racegoers at Flemington donned wet weather gear, Tauranga cup watchers were enjoying blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s to watch the race that stops two nations.

Taking advantage of the sunshine were the crowd that gathered at Our Place in the Tauranga CBD for the 5pm race.

A group of nursing students from Toi Ohomai were in Flemington-worthy finery, celebrating the end of their first-year exams.

Also celebrating was recruitment company regional manager Matt Groucott of Ōmokoroa after his "random" pick Cross Counter took the win.

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"It's not big money but I did okay," he said.

Meanwhile, some 370 finely-dressed guests attended the Melbourne Cup Charity Auction in the stadium lounge at ASB Arena.

Among them was Ōhauiti's Craig McCulloch, unmissable in head-to-foot bright blue tartan.

"It's called The Braveheart Suit," he said.

"Because he's brave to wear it," quipped his mate Bruce Cortesi of Pāpāmoa as the pair bellied up to the bar.

"That's what people keep saying," said McCulloch.

Bruce Cortesi and Craig McCulloch were suited and booted and ready to while away an afternoon of racing at the Melbourne Cup Charity Auction at ASB. Photo / George Novak
Bruce Cortesi and Craig McCulloch were suited and booted and ready to while away an afternoon of racing at the Melbourne Cup Charity Auction at ASB. Photo / George Novak

Event organiser Sharon Hitchcock said the afternoon was not quite a sellout but the guests had come dressed fit for the "grand occasion" she felt the auction, in its fourth year, had grown into.

"We've really lifted the bar this year. There's a real buzz."

She said it was great to see such strong support for the event and the money raised would make a big difference to the charities and the people they served.

This year the event was supporting Homes of Home, Women's Refuge and other charitable activities of Zonta and Tauranga Te Papa Rotary.

Melbourne Cup Charity Auction MC Pinky Agnew and event organiser Sharon Hitchcock. Photo / George Novak
Melbourne Cup Charity Auction MC Pinky Agnew and event organiser Sharon Hitchcock. Photo / George Novak

Attendee Rose McGregor said it was the two charities that motivated her to attend the event.

"I am a domestic violence survivor and I feel passionate about supporting Women's Refuge and Homes of Hope."

McGregor, who runs women's wellness business, Solace, said she had always followed the Melbourne Cup, as had her father, Derek Bullick, who loved racing and owned a few horses.