The Beach Hop, how it’s grown from it’s early days in 2001. The first festival was put together to coincide with the local Rock ‘n’ Roll club’s birthday hop. It is estimated that 6,000 people attended that first Hop, just a drop in the ocean compared with the following years. The parade was not quite as long in duration as the current one, a long blink and you would have missed it! But it was a good start!
The crowds almost doubled a year later, with over 10,000 attending as the Beach Hop started to take the shape of the mega event that it is today. The local community really started to get into the swing of things with Rock ‘n’ Roll bands and music featuring all through town. The Festival could now lay claim to being the largest event on the Coromandel Peninsula.
The 2003 event was really a break out event, with 25,000 attending over the weekend, and was now without a doubt the largest event on the Coromandel, and the largest speciality car show in New Zealand. It had also grown to be the second largest Rock ‘n’ Roll festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
Since those early three years, the Festival has now grown to a police estimate of 100,000 attendees over the weekend, and is the biggest car and Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
There have been a few problems over the years that have come and gone and been resolved. The worst of those was the 2005 event, where 60,000 were in attendance, but with no liquor ban, and the dreaded mobile phone texts flying over the hills, the party was gate crashed by basically young drunken bums. The family friendly and fun ‘street parade’ on Saturday night turned into a boozy street parade. Fortunately there were no serious injuries to anyone, and property damage was at a minimum, but the clean up rivalled the New Year celebrations in the ‘riot years’ of the early 80s!
Beach Hop 2006 saw plans in place to stop the idiots from ruining the party, and they worked a treat. A town wide liquor ban was in force for the festival, and cars had to be pre-registered. A reduced crowd of 45,000 attended the event, but not as a hangover from the previous years shenanigans, but the weather intervened for the first time. The heavens opened as only they can at Whangamata, and the deluge closed the roads into town for about 5 hours. But the wet did not dampen the enjoyment of the parade, and Sunny’s owners retired shortly afterwards from umbrella sales proceeds…
The sun gods have smiled down on the festival since 2007, with a few showers now and then, but nothing to compare with the parade deluge of 2006! Bands now are coming from Australia to entertain, and cars make the long haul north from as far afield as Dunedin, and a smattering have even been appearing from the West Island, along with many car enthusiasts. So many so that the Beach Hop now has ‘visitors’ badges for our Australian participants!
In 2008 car registration reached 1480, so it was decided that in 2009 to limit the number of official entrants to 1000. The event was also split into different areas to spread the crowd out with “Day Passes” for those car entrants who only wanted to come for the Saturday. While there are ‘only’ 1000 cars registered for the event, it is conservatively estimated that there would be at least two cars for every registered vehicle in town for the Beach Hop.