Thousands of people hit the beach to enjoy the sun and hear some of the country's hottest singers.

Otumoetai College students Liana McSweeny, Briaana Young, both 14, and Suzanna Litten, 13, had been camped out for about three hours to make sure they got to see X-Factor contestant Benny Tipene perform at the Coke Loves Summer festival, at Mount Maunganui Main Beach about 2.30pm yesterday.

The trio were also planning to stay and see X-Factor winner Jackie Thomas and boy-band Moorhouse perform later in the day but Benny Tipene was the clear favourite.

"I'm excited," Briaana said. "He's got a good style of music."


Suzanna Litten was also hanging out to see the Kiwi pop star.

"He's good looking. He has a different sound," she said.

A huge crowd of holidaymakers and locals turned out to make the most of the music, activities and weather.

Auckland artist Elliot Stewart was creating huge masterpieces out of sand.

"They asked if I wanted to come and make some sand sculptures, so I said, 'yeah, why not'. I've done it just for fun. This is the first time I've really tried to do it," he said.

Mr Stewart had not been in town for long but was already impressed but what he had seen.

"I'm pretty amazed," he said.

Other festival-goers tested their skill on a mechanical surfboard, joined a large game of beach volleyball and sunbathed on bean bags, towels and couches.

The festival will be held at Whangamata's Williamson Park tomorrow, between noon and 6pm.