IF YOU polled a bunch of red-blooded Kiwi petrolheads on what would be at the top of their must-do event list on New Zealand’s shaky isles, the Repco Beach Hop would likely win out. That much seems obvious based on the attendance at the 19th running of the always-popular event.
Nestled on the sandy shores of Coromandel’s eastern seaboard, Whangamata played host to Beach Hop once again in late March. It’s clear to see why the event has grown and thrived over the years in this environment. Ringleader Noddy Watts has built good relationships with the sponsors, registered entrants, locals and the public in general, as well as with the constabulary and, most importantly, the local council. There is even a dedicated Beach Hop representative on the council board, which, given the rumoured NZ$8 million the event brings to the community, makes for good business.
“We had about 1250 registered entrants this year,” said Noddy. “The waste management systems can accurately measure the number of people in town, and Whangamata swells from a permanent population of 3800 to around 100,000 people attracted to the region for the week.”
Aside from the officially registered entrants, somewhere north of 4000 additional cars packed with excited petrolheads showed up in town to absorb the culture and the multiple elements ‘The Hop’ has to offer. There are three cruise/park days where the official entrants cruise to the coastal townships of Waihi, Whitianga and Onemana, before the full-on festival weekend within Whangamata itself. With numerous bands, more car shows, a swap meet, a retro caravan show, pin-up and Hop Idol shows, all on top of a constant stream of amazing rides cruising the streets, there is more than enough going on to keep everyone entertained. This is every Kiwi motorhead’s nirvana.
What I personally find so unique about Beach Hop is the way it highlights the sheer variety of cars tucked away in Kiwi sheds. Every day of the event I saw models that I either had never seen before or are super-rare, like a red Dodge Demon parked unattended in the main street. And that was one of two seen over the weekend!
Without even taking a breath after this amazingly successful event, Noddy and his planning team are already laying the foundations for the important mile marker of the 20th Repco Beach Hop, scheduled for 25-29 March 2020. Might see you there!
ACROSS THE DITCH
BEACH Hop has been a popular destination for Australians taking advantage of the dollar, cold beer and beaches. Each year one or more keen Aussies can’t help themselves and go to the trouble of shipping their own vehicle over to cruise the hallowed roads of the Coromandel Ranges.
This year expat Kiwi Royden Hardcastle made the trip back across the ditch with his 1928 Dodge Senior Six. Having owned the car for 25 years, Royden took it with him when he made the move from Hastings to Shellharbour, south of Sydney.
The latest version of the Dodge runs a staunch 555ci Buick V8, and has run a PB of 9.5sec down the quarter. Roydon says his dad Steve is also a drag racer, and planned to attend the Beach Hop and then run at the Nostalgia Drags at Meremere. “The prospect of attending both events in my own Dodge was too great, and plans were made to ship it over,” he said. “It was a challenge to run a 9sec car in this traffic, so we detuned it for pump gas and paid close attention to the cooling system.
“What an event! I will be back next year – minus the car.”
1. In his fifth year coming to the Hop, Dave Bryant decided to bring back Li’l Bonnie, his 350 Chev-powered 1930 tudor
2. Dave Murtagh won the Top 10 Shootout – Best Car award with his 1964 Galaxie, formerly owned by Aussies Mal and Ang Seiler (SM, Jan ’15). “It has a staunch 585hp motor, and that’s plenty for a cruiser,” Dave says
3. Bryan and Colleen Pascoe and friends Carol and John Harwood rocked a ’59 Cadillac DeVille. “We dress up for fun each day,” Colleen said. “Today we are hippies; tomorrow we are gangsters”
4. Jovan and Farrah Canak’s cool taco truck was built by the famed Roadster Shop in the US. The LSX-powered 1970 Chev P10 sits on a custom chassis. It took several years to get the truck legally certified for NZ roads, but it was worth the effort once it was unveiled at Beach Hop
5. Helen Brougham won the sought-after giveaway car: a gleaming ’67 Ford Galaxie. An emotional Brougham said she had grown up around classic cars; her parents took her to school in a ’37 Pontiac sedan! “I can’t wait to take my friends out in it,” she beamed
6. Errol Uttinger’s ’47 Ford custom is the result of a 15-year build, with every body panel hand-shaped from steel. It runs a 305ci Chev TPI, 700R ’box, HZ front end and Jag rear end. The interior was mostly done by Tauranga’s Shawn Horwood, but completed by his son Nick after Shawn passed away
7. Auckland-based Early Holden Model Club mates Robbie Manderson, Graham Whiteman and Alan Bruce decided to up the ante in their efforts to win the Beach Hop Best House Competition. With a crew aged up to 80, the club stylised Robbie’s beach house and included a quality display of classic Holden machinery
8. One of the standout cars had to be Steve and Leanne Milne’s immaculate Chev, SL1K56. The 210 two-door, four-post ’56 was a three-year build, and runs a 400ci Chev, TH350 with a four-link and 9in out the back
9. Fresh from competing in the C2C Cannonball Rally from New York to California, Tim Lamb and mate Jared Fisher brought home Tim’s trusty ’75 Dodge Monaco, resplendent in Hazzard County Sheriff livery, to display at Beach Hop
10. While it was Lyall and Lucy Stewart’s third time to Beach Hop, it was the first time they had made the 600km trip up from Porirua in Lola, their supercharged ’32 three-window. The road trip was a bit of a mission with an I-beam front end!
11. Whangamata’s main servo managed to keep the thousands of gas-guzzling cruisers rolling, and it was rumoured the volume of fuel pumped each day was over three times that of a normal day – sold at a reasonable price, too
12. It’s rare to see an XA Falcon coupe in this condition in NZ. Dave Hart has owned the car for nine years and has spent the past five rebuilding it. It’s now running a stroked 393ci Windsor, TK600 five-speed and a Truetrac 9in LSD