Friday, 26 April 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Repco Beach Hop to return to Whitianga in 2020

The threat of rain did little to damper the enthusiasm from locals and visitors alike last Thursday as Whitianga’s newly upgraded town centre came alive to the beat of rock ‘n’ roll music and the arrival of around 600 classic American cars.

While Whangamata is where the five-day Repco Beach Hop festival is officially based, the Thursday run to Whitianga - called the “Whitianga Beach party” - has become a regular part of the programme over the last three years.  

Festival organizer, Noddy Watts, says it’s all about spreading the unique Beach Hop atmosphere. “Whitianga makes for the perfect day trip from Whangamata, which allows us to showcase the Repco Beach Hop to a much wider audience,” he says. “It also gives the owners and families of the timeless vehicles who make the trip the opportunity to visit and experience a beautiful part of New Zealand. I must acknowledge the support we receive from the Mercury Bay Community Events Support Trust, The Informer and Thames-Coromandel District Council to bring the event to Whitianga. We get such positive feedback and buy-in from all involved and this year the upgraded Whitianga town centre worked out perfectly.”

The spirit of the day on Thursday truly reflected the “good old days” of the 50s and 60s which the Repco Beach Hop is all about. It was a period that will never be repeated in the history of the motor vehicle ever again, hence the ongoing popularity of the festival.

The 50s and 60’s were a time when America was finally breaking itself free from the Great Depression and World War II a. With very few hard and fast rules and regulations in place to hold them back, the American motor industry were quick to design and produce motor vehicles with loads of high polished chrome work, large tailfins and big V8 engines. Many enthusiasts then started to modify some of these vehicles, calling them hotrods.

It was a time where the motor vehicle blended in perfectly with the Elvis-led era of rock ‘n’ roll music and drive-in movies.

The Repco Beach Hop is the perfect way to celebrate what really was a golden era of motoring. 

An appreciative crowd were able to walk around four entertainment areas in the Whitianga town centre on Thursday, taking in the live music and rock ‘n’ roll dancing, while admiring the way the cars were presented. For many owners, the restoration process to bring their vehicles back to original factory or better condition had taken in excess of 10 years. And the results of their hard work definitely showed with many owners on hand and very happy to talk about their cars’ past history and the restoration journey. There was a strong feeling that the many hours spent in the garage were almost as enjoyable as driving the finished product itself. 

A poster displayed by one proud owner probably summed up the effort that went into his vehicle, which originally rolled off the assembly line in 1939. It read, “If you can look this good at age 80, then you too can be called a classic.”

In 2017, the Beach Hop festival had the distinction of being declared the People’s Choice New Zealand’s Favourite Event at the New Zealand Events Association Awards. Its little wonder then that the festival is considered one of the best and biggest events of its kind outside of America.  

The Repco Beach Hop will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year and a visit to Whitianga is already confirmed to be part of the programme.

If you missed the Whitianga Beach Party on Thursday, then it’s definitely worth the effort to check it out in 2020.

Pictured: Noddy Watts (second from the right), main Repco Beach Hop organizer, at the Whitianga Beach Party on Thursday last week with his partner, Andrea Ross (second from the left) and Beach Hop fans Carol Burton (on the left) from Australia and Ron Selia from Idaho, USA.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.