120,000 car buffs turn out for Beach Hop

By Lesley Staniland

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Rain didn't deter thousands from turning out. Photo / Lesley Staniland
Rain didn't deter thousands from turning out. Photo / Lesley Staniland

Another successful Repco Beach Hop Whangamata has wrapped up with an unconfirmed total of about 120,000 people choking the streets of Whangamata over this year's six-day event and a positive report from police.

Of the thousands in town, just 44 arrests were made - all but one for alcohol-related issues. The exception was one driver being arrested for loss of traction, which resulted in his car being impounded, Inspector Karen Henrikson said.

The streets of Whangamata are crowded with people and cars after the first part of the grand parade on Saturday.
The streets of Whangamata are crowded with people and cars after the first part of the grand parade on Saturday.

"Overall, behaviour was pretty good and it was quite quiet until the crowds came in on Saturday.

"The weather obviously played a part and once the sun came out and it got hot we were a bit concerned about the effects of alcohol intake.

"But generally we're very pleased with the behaviour of everyone. Beach Hop is a family event but we're still catching a few drink driving.

"Our focus this year was on safety issues, such as people riding on trays of pickups, and noisy exhausts. That didn't please a few participants but rules are rules," Ms Henrikson said.

She said most of those arrested were in the younger age group and had no connection to Beach Hop but had taken the opportunity to come into Whangamata and party.

"I was very impressed with the people returning home over the hills from Whangamata to Waihi as well. Everyone was patient and traffic flowed steadily."

Stacey Riddick and her son Zavier, 4, were a hit with the crowds. Photo / Lesley Staniland
Stacey Riddick and her son Zavier, 4, were a hit with the crowds. Photo / Lesley Staniland

The Hop wrapped up yesterday with the annual Baptist Church rock'n'roll service, the entrants' car prize draws and bands playing to farewell the visitors.

Richard Thompson from Papamoa was rapt to walk away with the grand prize - a ZZ Hop Ford Hot Rod.

Noddy Watts, spokesman for the organising committee, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

- Repco Beach Hop 17 will be held from March 23 to 26.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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