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Light and fire with Thunder Hop prove tops at Hot Water Beach


Some time ago, Hot Water Beach Top 10 holiday park owners, Sheree and Grant Webster, started thinking about an event that would bolster their winter occupancy rates and keep their staff busy during a traditionally slow time. They settled on the idea of a light festival to be held on Queen's Birthday Weekend. The event was set up as family-friendly event, all about fire and light.

Due to uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was planned as a private event only open to Top 10 campers. In addition, when this year's Beach Hop was postponed, Sheree and Grant and their team joined up with Mark Aldridge from the New Zealand Motorhome Travel Group (NZMTG) to add a second event, called "Thunder Hop", to the weekend. And what a weekend it was!

On top of raising funds for the Hot Water Beach Surf Lifesaving Service, last Saturday evening featured 81 hot rods and classic cars for a "Show and Shine", a caravan and campervan lighting and decorating contest, a fire dancing contest, a cold balloon inflation walk-through, a hot balloon inflation night glow and a laser show.

The evening was capped off with an astounding bonfire which took Grant almost four months to build. Grant, who is a former dairy farmer, definitely knows how to build a fire!

Faced with the cancellation of two bands, Sheree and Grant managed to get a local musician to add a great soundtrack to the fire. The crowd, abundant with happy children, was mesmerised.

The NZMTG has a large contingent of members with hot rods and classic cars. Thunder Hop was created to quell their desire to meet and show off their machines.

The cars were an amazing drawcard for everyone at the event and created a festive atmosphere for all ages. The cars came from all over the North Island and the holiday park was at nearly full capacity.

Grant says that it was fabulous to have people staying in the park, since there were times of late when it has been a bit of a ghost town. He added that he loves the NZMTG members. They are fun and somewhat different from the park's typical high season demographic.

Grant and Sheree say that they will definitely host the festival again next year and maybe open it up more to the local community.


Pictured is last weekend's light festival and "Thunder Hop" events held at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 holiday park were a great success.

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