Beach Hop – Keep The Motor Running
Written by John Freer on March 25, 2023
By John Freer
Standing in Whangamata’s Port Road on the Friday night of Beach Hop – it is difficult to apprehend what you see and experience all round you.
There are people everywhere – the vast majority enjoying the moment, and there is also a spectacular display of vehicles and machinery the value of which is impossible to determine.
You don’t have to guess the next element of Beach Hop’s success – it is all round you to see. This being the value to the local business community.
Not every business benefits from Beach Hop, but many do. And even those who may not experience an immediate return, Beach Hop carries a legacy value regarding the tourism infrastructure and general community sustainability.
Beach Hop brings people to the Coromandel Peninsula who leave wanting to return, if not to visit, then to potentially live.
So, to the volunteers and everyone else who makes Beach Hop work – a huge vote of thanks.
To those, like a friend who drove his car from Queenstown to Whangamata, and the many others who came from other parts of New Zealand and overseas, thanks for making the festival what it is.
The locals – particularly you who don’t burst into social media grizzling about the three of four days of noise you have to endure, or spouting absolute nonsense on road damage, hey, thanks to you too.
Just quickly, those who cannot open their eyes wide enough to appreciate the absolute value of Beach Hop – just go away for the weekend.
Behind the scenes this year organisers were facing challenges which they most probably have never experienced before. They were staging their second event in four months.
This takes a toll on volunteers; will the participants pay the money to sign up and then be prepared to meet the cost of both getting and staying here.
Interviewing the chairman of the organising committee prior to Beach Hop 2023 you could sense some concerns. Noddy Watts had recently been in Auckland finalising sponsor arrangements, and he had met with all the necessary authorities around potential roading issues – and as you know in New Zealand there are plenty.
We chose not to discuss the weather agreeing it was something that could not be influenced.
When running an event which brings in more than 100,000 people, being nervous and having concerns goes with the territory. They are the same things that make it work – there is no room for complacency.
Taking this year’s event around the Coromandel Peninsula was a stroke of genius as local business communities, while maybe a little slow out of the blocks, grabbed the opportunity and endeavoured to make it count.
Thames may have lost its big day due to the closure of State Highway 25A, but like Coromandel Town, Whitianga, Tairua and Pauanui, it was on board to ensure those involved with the 500-plus cars that took part, felt welcome and were enticed to stop and shop.
One Thames business owner said that even if the cars did not stop and shop, during the Repco Power Cruise, this type of activity was what the region needed if it was going to get back on its feet. She later told me – she did get Beach Hoppers in her shop.
The various communities are now obviously going to seek this to continue with others such as Matarangi and Whangapoua saying don’t forget us.
There were other things that are worthy of note. In Whangamata the call went out early in the week for a couple of cars to visit some schools – so T-Bucket owner Warren Glass and his mates did just that, arranging for car visits to Opotuere School and the Whangamata Area School.
It was a hit with the children as was the decision to drop into Moana House Village so the residents could also get a taste of Beach Hop and enjoy the spectacle – thanks everyone – a nice touch.
The organisers knew they had to refresh the event for this year so along came Elvis and his mates, and the T-Buckets. Possibly visitor numbers weren’t what they were in previous years, but there were the entrants and their supporters, and they clearly have shown Coromandel Peninsula is open for business.
And the weather played its part. Thanks Beach Hop crew, sponsors, entrants and supporters, your efforts are very much appreciated.