Beach Hop is something everyone should experience at least once, says Maketū's Kerry Clark.

For many — including his wife and his in-laws — once is just not enough.

Kerry and his wife Michelle will be at this year's event with their 1929 Model A hot rod and their 1953 Buick with Michelle's parents Garry and June Jefferis taking their Vauxhall 1969 Cresta — painted up as a yellow taxi.

Kerry says for him, there are two reasons to go — the cars and the music.


"And it's not just American cars, there's British cars, there's bikes and everything from hot rods to classics. The atmosphere is amazing," says Michelle.

"Everybody should experience it once I reckon — even if you're not into cars — just for the experience."

Kerry and Michelle's two cars couldn't be more different.

The model A was built from scratch after Kerry found a car body in Te Puke "that we picked up pretty cheaply" in 2013.

"It took us three years to build and basically everything has been built in Te Puke — the only thing that wasn't would be a guy at the Mount did the upholstery.

The car made its Beach Hop debut in 2016 when it won Best Nostalgia Car award.

"Kerry did the whole paint job on it himself — and he did a brilliant paint job on it," says Garry. Kerry says he had always wanted to build a car.

"I've always been involved in the car industry and we got the opportunity, so we took it."


The car has been to Beach Hop every year since.

In contrast the Buick is as close to being untouched as it can be.

"It's a dead stock original classic from America," says Kerry. "It had been lying in a shed in Washington for 25 years, with the shed laying on it that had fallen in a storm. It was brought to New Zealand in 2005, but nothing was done to it until Kerry and Michelle bought it two years ago and made it road legal.

"We needed something with a roof," says Michelle.

For Garry and June, Beach Hop is almost reliving a youth they never had.

"We lived through the era of rock 'n' roll and the cars, but as far as I'm concerned, I was too busy working to be involved in that era — the closest I came to it was seeing Fonzie on TV."

June says she enjoys the way Whangamatā gets behind the event.

"Everyone gets dressed up and you can go and get your hair done, your nails done its all laid on."

"The whole town lives it for four days," says Kerry. "It's one of the best run events that I know of. I love listening to the bands and could sit there all day and listen to them."

Traditionally, the family has always taken part in Friday's Thunder Cruise to Ōnemana.

"The guys get to uncap their exhausts and make the cars as loud as they can — and everyone turns a bind eye — that's a good day," says Kerry.

Kerry and Michelle's English bulldog Floyd also loves Beach Hop

"It's so dog friendly," says Michelle, "There are dog bowls out on the street and everything
and times you can take your dogs on the beach."

The Repco Beach Hop is held annually in Whangamatā, attracting more than 100,000 people who travel from all over New Zealand and around the world for a five-day celebration of music, dance, hot rods, and dress-ups.

Locals get behind the festival in a big way. Shop windows are decorated in 50s and 60s themes, and opening hours and products change to suit. From the start, the festival has raised funds for local emergency services and charities, with more than $500,000 donated to the Whangamatā Surf Life Saving Club, Volunteer Coast Guard, St John, Land Search & Rescue, Westpac Helicopter and Fire Service.

Beach Hop began yesterday with the Warm Up Party in Waihī and will continue until Sunday with cruises, markets, music, car, motorcycle and retro caravan shows a wearable art and fashion show.