MAY 2021 STARS OF THE SHOW: WHANGAMATA BEACH HOP ROCK’N ROLL FESTIVAL–NEW ZEALAND THROWS A CAR SHOW/PARTY FOR 100,000 PEOPLE

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New Zealand is so far away from North America they celebrate tomorrow 18 hours ahead of California so you could assume they don’t have a huge attachment to vintage Detroit iron.

You’d be wrong–New Zealand hosts one of the biggest car shows/parties on the planet.

JERRY SUTHERLAND

Noddy Watts is one of the founders of the Whangamata Beach Hop Rock’n Roll Festival and he was happy to explain the history behind this iconic event: “The event started in 2001 so Repco Beach Hop 21 was our 21st celebration of the 50s & 60s. The 5-day Festival included 20 bands performing live music, Rock’n’Roll Hops, fashion shows and Hot Rods and classic cars”.

The organizers picked the perfect venue for the big show: ”It’s held in the popular summer surf town of Whangamata in the South Pacific Ocean, the usual population of 4000 permanent residents swells to 100,000 for the festival”.

The Beach Hop is a massive event, so Noddy explained how the organizers deal with the demands of such a large show: “Vehicle entry is restricted to those made before 1972 and limited to 1500 registered entries although there are an estimated 3000+ at the event. Entry for Repco Beach Hop 21 opened on Dec 1st, 2020 and sold out within 2 days which shows how popular the event is”.

This is a multi-day event, so they stack the deck to keep the Beach Hop participants in constant motion throughout the event: “Each day the entrants cruise in convoy to a different location (up to 60km away) for a Car Show with live music and prizes. The cars then return to the Whangamata base in the afternoon for hours of cruising bumper to bumper around the town centre, while bands perform Rock’nRoll music at numerous locations around the town”.

Major events all over the globe were affected by the pandemic in 2020 and it’s extended into 2021, but the Beach Hop pulled off the impossible when they hosted two shows: “The 20th Anniversary last year was postponed as New Zealand went into a 5-week full lock down on the eve of the Festival start in March.Thankfully, New Zealand has controlled Covid-19 and life returned to normal by October, so the postponed event went ahead in November 2020. So there was only a 4 month turnaround between the even however this had no impact on one of the best ever last week. Where else can they do what we just did in New Zealand?”

The key to success in any event is superior organization behind the scenes and Beach Hop is an excellent example of a well-run operation.

There’s a topsy-turvy feel to an event in New Zealand because they’re winding down summer when much of North America is winding down winter. Beach Hop may not be familiar to those of us who live in northern latitudes, but if you’re looking for a winter escape to a summer celebration of all things classic, this one is hard to beat.   

Take a look below to see some more highlights.   

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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