It was only a free bonus ticket, but it turned into $1 million for a Whangārei man who won Lotto First Division on Saturday.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, became an instant millionaire on a bonus ticket he won on one of his regular Lotto tickets that he checked recently.

"I had a handful of Lotto tickets lurking around in my wallet, so I thought I better get them checked. I handed them over to the man and low and behold, I won a bonus ticket on each and every one," he said.

"I thought 'wow, that's pretty lucky – let's see if my luck continues with a big prize'."

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He then forgot about them until a chat with his cousin.

"I was chatting to my cousin and he mentioned that Otaika had sold a $1m ticket at the weekend and it hadn't been claimed yet. I didn't really think much of it at the time, but as I was driving home that night I remembered that I had a few tickets from that store. That's when thoughts of what I'd do if I won started rushing through my head.

"I started thinking about what I would do, who I would tell and how I would tell them. By the time I got home it was all I could think about."

Despite the urge to check his tickets immediately, he started preparing dinner before finally turning to his daughter to tell her what was on his mind.

"I said, 'Look, this is the closest I am ever going to be to winning $1m – I have a ticket from the same shop that sold the big winner. What do you think I should do? Should I wait to see if someone claims it?'," the man said.

Without a second thought, his daughter grabbed her laptop and her Dad's tickets.

"After about two minutes, my daughter yelled out to me and said 'What does it mean when you have all the numbers on one line?' " the man said.

Believing she had made a mistake, he went over to his daughter.

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"I said, "Baby, you can't say things like that – you'll give your old man a heart attack. Let me take a look'."

He immediately saw all six numbers lined up in a row.

"I was in complete shock — I was like, holy moly, is this real?"

The man and his family raced down to their local Lotto store to double-check their ticket.

"It wasn't until 'Congratulations, First Division winner' appeared on the screen that it started to become real," he said.

With the winnings now in his bank account, he plans to spend some on becoming mortgage-free.

"It's going to be such an amazing feeling knowing that we own every metre of our family home. Other than that, I'm not too sure yet – but I'm sure the kids will all get a little something."

The winning ticket was sold at Otaika Lotto & Post.