Each summer – favourable beach conditions permitting – Castlepoint (a 50 minute drive from Masterton) hosts its annual beach horse races, which date back to 1872. In recent times they’ve become a unique family day out with the emphasis on entertainment and picnicking.
Held each March, with the date decided by the best Saturday afternoon low tide, the event attracts a mixture of professional and casual jockeys who contest up to eight races held along the main beach. The prestigious Castlepoint Cup Open is always run when the tide is at its lowest and provides great excitement for the thousands of people who line the settlement’s sea wall or sit on the front lawns of the seaside baches. Betting is allowed under an equalisator system meaning punters are randomly drawn a horse after buying a $2 ticket.
It’s not unusual to see the usually quiet seaside settlement bustling with people carrying umbrellas, picnic hampers, deck chairs and chilly-bins all enjoying the day and the spectacular vista which includes the Castlepoint lighthouse, the imposing limestone rock formations and stunning lagoon.
There are also fun events for children in between the horse races such as a three-leg race and sack race.