Magnificent cars of all descriptions roared into Waihī today for the first leg of the Beach Hop.
The township was transformed back in time to the 1940s and 1950s for the hugely popular Waihī Warm Up party with classic cars and hot rods swarming the streets and thousands of petrolheads coming along for the ride.
Rock and roll was the flavour and fashion of the day — with loads of women in full skirts and men rocking Hawaiian shirts or channelling the Fonz.
The Warm Up Party is the biggest event on the Waihī calendar. An estimated 15,000 are in Waihī for the 11th event, which is the precursor to the Repco Beach Hop festival and rock and roll extravaganza over the following four days.
The warm up will probably bring in a massive spend into the Hauraki district of about $300,000-$500,000 which is a real bonus to the town, says Go Waihī chairperson Kerry Single.
''The visitors not only bring money into Waihī but they also stop in Hauraki district on the way through, Ngtea, and Paeroa are rest stops before coming into Waihī.
''While here visitors not only look at the fantastic display of cars but also take a bit of time to see the other things that Waihī has to offer, like the Waihī Museum with its great display of the early days in and around Waihī, the Goldfields Railway, the Discovery Centre, the great walks we have around the Open Mine, The Hauraki Rail Trail starts and ends in Waihi, it's also the best way to the east coast of the Coromandel from this southern end through Waihī.''
An estimated 700 cars and their proud owners came for the party. Roads around the town centre were blocked for the cars, rock and roll entertainment including live bands, the shops were open and there were stalls galore.
Prizes are up for grabs for the best looking gal and guy, lass and lad and custom or hot rod. Meanwhile, the hilarious Drag Race is being held at around midday.
The annual warm up to the Beach Hop day in Waihī usually brings in between 12,500 and 15,000 people to the town and costs between $12,000-$15,000.