The Interislander Summer Festival at Tauranga Racecourse proved to be a perfect outing for a group of friends who grabbed the chance to enjoy a fun-filled family day to reconnect with their mates.

Yesterday's annual festival at Tauranga Racecourse is one of the biggest events on the race calendar for locals and holidaymakers.

Among the thousands of punters were 29-year-old birthday girl Tash Cox from Pyes Pa, her 9-month old daughter Addison, and several friends including Chrystal Marshall and 10-week-old son Branco from Greerton.

Cox said it was the ideal chance to also catch up with mates Sarah Elwin, 23, from Taihape, and Elwin's Canadian-born partner Jacob Toupin, 21, who was enjoying his first Kiwi summer on a working holidaying in New Zealand.

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"We came here last year. it's always such a great place for a reunion, especially with all the fun children's activities and an ideal venue to catch up with each others news," she said.

The popular activities for under-12s had a fun equine theme, including hobby horse racing, sack races, and a colouring competition.

Elwin and Toupin said they were babysitting Sarah's niece Annabelle Rendell, 3, from Mount Maunganui to give her parents a break.

Jacob Toupin, 21, and his partner Sarah Elwin, 23, from Taihape, holding her niece Annabelle Rendell, 3, from Mount Maunganui at the races. Photo / Sandra Conchie
Jacob Toupin, 21, and his partner Sarah Elwin, 23, from Taihape, holding her niece Annabelle Rendell, 3, from Mount Maunganui at the races. Photo / Sandra Conchie

"Annabelle just loves horses as you can see, and we also came because we really liked that this was a family-friendly event. It's such awesome atmosphere," Elwin said.

Danielle Geary, 40, from Matua was also there with a group of 40 others, mainly friends.

"We came last year too. It's become an annual tradition, but this time we left the kids at home. It's always a fun way to catch up with friends, especially those from out of town."

With racing going on into the evening, families armed with picnic baskets were pouring into the venue mid-afternoon and adding to the fun carnival atmosphere.

"The races are a family favourite in Tauranga, and it's been great to see so many Tauranga residents out enjoying themselves today, soaking up the sun and all-day entertainment," Racing Tauranga spokesperson Kelly Bryant said.

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This year's Interislander Summer Festival sees 29 races take place across the country from Whangarei Racing Club in sunny Northland to Otago Racing Club in the south.