Horse Betting In New Zealand

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Horse racing is something that comes part and parcel with horse betting, that is, it’s virtually impossible to not include horse betting in the conversation when you spend a day at horse racing.

And it really makes sense, as horse racing has been around for thousands of years, with certain sources dating the practice back to ancient times (even going back to 1000BC)

Horse racing betting, or punting as it’s commonly known in New Zealand and Australia, is the practice of going to the horse races and placing a bet on a horse you think will finish the race before all the other competing horses on the racecourse.

Horse racing is a well-liked sport and form of entertainment in New Zealand.

The horse racing industry in New Zealand has produced numerous outstanding horses, trainers, and jockeys who have gone on to have glittering careers and win accolades across the globe and on a national level.

As a result, it’s safe to safe that horse racing and horse betting are alive and thriving in New Zealand.

However, let’s wind back the clock for a second and find out how exactly we got here.

Why are horse racing and betting so popular in New Zealand? How did this pastime become one of the most popular forms of gambling in the region?

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History of Horse Racing in New Zealand

It can be expected that for a country that was colonised by the British, horse racing would follow not soon after.

Early coloniser settlements immediately established a horse racing culture after their arrival in New Zealand. It was a significant part of the first anniversary events in Canterbury, Wellington, Auckland, Nelson, and Otago.

Race meetings quickly moulded themselves into significant social and athletic occasions. The military garrison in Auckland held the first horse races in the vicinity of 1840.

Horse racing gradually developed over the 19th century as administrative bodies and clubs were established, such as the New Zealand Racing Conference, which to this day is the main legislative and administrative body of all horse racing that occurs in New Zealand.

As horse racing fluctuated in popularity during the two great wars and the great depression, it was after the conclusion of WW2 that New Zealand started to see a great rise in the organisation and attendance of horse racing and also horse racing betting.

The industry continued to develop into a thriving and popular pastime for Kiwis and continues to be a significant part of the sports betting culture in the country.

Phar Lap

Here’s a fun fact about horse racing.

If you’re from Australia or New Zealand and have watched the Melbourne Cup, or read a thing or two about it, chances are you might have heard of the legendary racehorse Phar Lap.

The champion of champions, Phar Lap was born and raised in New Zealand but never competed here.

In addition to the 1930 Melbourne Cup, he won 32 of his last 35 races and 37 of his first 51. Two nations were enthralled by Phar Lap’s achievements during the dark days of the Great Depression, providing people a much-needed source of inspiration during otherwise dark and hopeless times.

Horse Racing Betting

You might be wondering how exactly you can get started on horse racing betting. Fortunately for punters around the nation, it’s incredibly easy and accessible to get started, as NZ horse racing betting is widespread, with online bookmakers and betting locations everywhere.

For example, events such as the Melbourne cup and the Cheltenham gold cup have proven time and time again historically to draw in immense numbers and international racing attention worldwide (with NZ being no different).

New Zealand has long been a country with a large and booming culture of thoroughbred racing and breeding. In the current day, that remains true as ever.

The close proximity to Australia means that the two countries share a very frequent and healthy cultural interchange and relationship with their respective horse racing industries, as Australia also possesses quite a large horse racing and horse betting industry.

For Kiwi punters, there are frequent races happening around the clock most days, providing the opportunity to place bets at will.

However, you might be asking, where exactly would one get started if they wanted to start punting on the horses?

Let’s get started.

Where Can I Bet On Horse Racing?

As a Kiwi punter, you have a ton of options when it comes to picking a spot to place bets. Due to the popularity of horse racing, many businesses and platforms have been set up to facilitate the demand for the industry.

Horse Racing Betting Sites

If you prefer to punt online, there are a ton of horse racing betting sites out there that serve kiwi punters with tons of up-to-date information, news and reviews, the best horse racing odds, and helpful betting tips that one might need before they get started.

Thankfully, these sites are quite accessible too, often only a quick Google search away.

You can find a lot of betting sites that have options for new customers (such as promotions and deals surrounding odds and bets), so shop around and find the one that suits your desires and objectives best.

In Person

In a large number of metropolitan areas in New Zealand, you can find bookmakers to carry out horse betting in person.

Essentially all of these in-person stores, such as the TAB, will have live streaming of horse racing so you can engage in live betting.

Often people will prefer to go place their bets in person, as you can seek advice about topics such as fixed odds, bet types, and any questions about a single race with the customer service representative, which in the case of an online sportsbook unless they have highly responsive live chat, you might have to wait a bit longer to get a specific answer to your question.

The in-person bookmaker remains quite popular with the older generations, while younger punters have swung towards other methods of betting options, such as online betting or apps.

Horse Betting Apps

Horse betting apps have also become quite prominent, as many punters will prefer to carry out their horse bets via mobile, primarily due to the convenience of betting with a mobile device. You can bet on the horses in depth while in bed or at work, the choice is yours.

Another reason why many people are gravitating towards horse betting apps is the free bets and the free bet offers that commonly come with downloading a horse betting app.

Due to many online bookmakers wanting to further make their mark on punters, they have many incentives associated with their applications.

We’re always looking for deals with our horse racing bets such as free bets, so it’s worth having a browse through the different sports betting sites and seeing who has the best horse racing betting deals.

As always, browsing our carefully curated list at CasinoCrawlers will give you a list of online betting sites and horse betting sites that have a proven track record of safe, fruitful and enjoyable experiences for their punters.

Horse Racing Betting Tips

Horse racing betting is a constantly changing industry, and due to the sheer amount of thoroughbred racing and horses being bred in New Zealand and Australia, changing competitive odds and many other factors.

However, the advantage one has here as a punter placing horse racing bets and reading horse racing odds is that the fundamentals of the horse racing betting markets and how to gamble wisely remain essentially the same as other popular sports betting.

So before you browse some horse betting sites for the best odds and lay down some of your bet credits at your favourite online bookie, here are some tips to increase your chances of making sure that you get more money out of the next race day.

Play The Safe Game

Before a race starts, the bookmaker will analyse the horses that are running the race and make the calculations for the horse racing odds that will be set before the race is set to begin. One part of this process is letting the horse racing markets know which horse will be the favourite (the horse they believe will most likely win the race day when compared to the others)

Naturally, as it goes in sports betting, the horse that they decide to be the favourite will be the one possessing the lowest odds for Kiwi punters.

The horse in the race classified as the favourite before the gates open statistically finishes in third place 67% of the time and wins 33% of the time.

While horse racing odds are classically designed to not pay too much for the favourite horse, at the same time it is one of the more secure and safe bets that a horse racing punter can make.

Pay Attention to Experts

If somebody has a widely recognised and respected platform for talking about horse racing betting, it’s probably because they know what they’re talking about and have years of experience in the field that has helped thousands (if not more) of punters generate better results for themselves.

Something to consider before you go looking for that valuable third-party perspective is checking their credentials.

Has this source seen big events like the cox plate and the Cheltenham festival? Are they respected individuals or publications with a large online presence and/or influence within the horse betting industry?

Many commentators on horse racing have come from backgrounds of working in the industry or breeding thoroughbred horses, so people like this will have valuable opinions that are worth taking note of.

Remember to Take It Easy

Unless horse betting is your profession and what you do to get paid (if you’re reading this I’m going to assume it isn’t) then this piece of advice may not apply to you.

One note you should remember at the end of the day is that betting on horses is meant to be an entertaining pastime above all, and you should treat it as such.

Enjoy going to the horses and betting, but also make sure that you enjoy it with balance, and don’t get too invested in a sense it will negatively affect your life, healthwise or financially.

If you’re having problems with your gambling habits, always seek help and advice.

Keep it casual and you’ll be in a much better spot.

Pros and Cons of Horse Betting

Horse betting has long been a favourite in the gambling industry of NZ. The options for races are seemingly limitless, and there are some fun events on every year. However, what are some of the pros and cons of horse betting in New Zealand? Let's find out.


  • Races on All The Time
  • Every Bookie Will Have It
  • Tons of Markets Available
  • Live Betting Available


  • Takes a While To Learn
  • Chance to Lose Money
  • Quite Addictive

Frequently Asked Questions about Horse Betting

The world of horse racing is a highly intricate and ever-changing beast, so here at CasinoCrawlers, we understand we may not have provided all the answers to your questions on this page.

However, here are some of the more frequent questions that we get asked about horse betting and the horse racing industry in general, so have a browse for some of the answers to the FAQ’s.

What’s the Biggest Horse Race in New Zealand?

The biggest horse race that takes place in New Zealand is undoubtedly the New Zealand derby, which is a thoroughbred horse race, taking place at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland.

The race takes place on the first week of March annually and is the opening day of the Auckland Cup Week.

What Types of Horse Racing is Common in New Zealand?

You’ll find two modes of horse racing in New Zealand that are widespread and universally enjoyed, those being Thoroughbred Racing and Harness or Standardbred racing, which is where the horse is attached to a cart.

The cart is commonly referred to as a sulky.

Is Horse Racing Popular in New Zealand?

Horse racing is a nationally enjoyed pastime in New Zealand, enjoying a business and cultural interchange with neighbouring Australia to boost the industry further.

Even more impressive yet, is that New Zealand possesses 52 racecourses throughout the nation, giving a punter plenty of options to see horseracing if they desire.

Author Lily Hunter

Lily began an exciting journey in the iGaming industry more than 10 years ago as a content writer for various online affiliate sites, especially those located in New Zealand. With her passion for gaming and an interest in the l... Read more about the author

Casinocrawlers » Online-betting-sites » Horse Betting In New Zealand
Last updated: January 18, 2023