The Interislander Festival New Year's Day races brought many families through the gates at the Hastings Racecourse on Tuesday.

Hawke's Bay was one of few regions with sunny weather- a welcoming start to 2019 with over 5000 people celebrating the festive occasion.

Hawke's Bay Racing's Andrew Castles said the day was family orientated and provided plenty of entertainment for adults and children.

Festival-goers were treated to a day in the sun with live music, delicious local food and exhilarating races.

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The youngest were kept entertained with activities such as tug-of-war, sack-races and face painting, while the adults enjoyed the thrill of the races.

Hawke's Bay Racing spokesman Greg Howie said the races
were a family favourite in Hastings.

"It's been great to see so many Hastings residents out enjoying themselves today, soaking up the sun and all-day entertainment."

The Hastings races were one of 29 taking place at new year across the country, from Whangarei Racing Club in sunny Northland to Otago Racing Club in the south.

Howie said the highlights included large numbers of racegoers, all the fabulous activities for children and even a local win in the races.

"We had a Hawke's Bay guy who had his first win and it was really cool because all his family and friends were there to see him win so it was really special.

"We had a really good return on the punters club with 530 people who bought a ticket for $10. One of the guys won $50,000 for everyone which was really cool."

Howie said despite the huge number of people attending the races there were no incidents to report.

"The police who did show up to the event were just really happy and there was no security problems which you sometimes get at these occasions."

Howie said the New Year's races had been going for at least 60 years and was themed around family.

"Coming to the races gets passed down through family generations. I was sitting with a guy today who remembers coming to the races with his dad and he's in his 30s now."