The Coromandel is revving up for two new summer festivals dedicated to well-tuned motors and music, including a $1 million prize draw - all organised by Whangamata Beach Hop legend Noddy Watts.
Kickdown Festival, running from January 20 to 23 in Whangamata, is for all motorcycle and rock music fans. Hootnanny Country Rock Festival from February 25 to 27 in Thames serves all country music, truck and western fans.
Watts says: "What a crazy time to launch two new events [in the middle of a pandemic], but we wanted to give Kiwis something to look forward to. People will want to do stuff and with overseas travel suspended ... it's an opportunity to shine. We thought 'let's do something new.' "
He created the Kickdown Festival as a New Zealand take on the famous Sturgis Rally motorcycle event in South Dakota.
"My fiance, Andrea, and I usually spend six months in America each year, taking tours along Route 66 and near Sturgis, so we know the American culture very well."
"We have the Burt Munro Festival in New Zealand - which is fantastic - but there is no major motorbike event in our area."
The three-day festival schedule includes a parade and bike show down Whangamata's main road, trade stalls, a $1 million prize draw, Ride the Loop around the Coromandel Peninsula, and an outdoor rock concert to close the festival.
"A bit like Beach Hop, just bikes only," says Watts.
"The Coromandel Loop is such a popular route so it was obvious it will be part of the festival. As a world first we will put transponders on the bikes participating in Ride the Loop so we can record the time of each bike - a bit like at a marathon or triathlon.
"Later on at the Friday concert, we will draw a random time and whoever comes closest, wins $10,000. We will also draw a second time and whoever matches the exact time to a millisecond, will win $1 million."
The Kickdown concert has a lineup of Shihad, Devilskin and Hello Sailor, as well as Kiwi favourites such as Stellar, The Jordan Luck Band, Goodshirt and DJs from radio station The Rock set to take the stage.
"It's all about enjoying the journey and sharing a love of British, American and European motorbikes ... We think New Zealanders are looking forward to a summer break and for a growing number of Kiwis, that means leaving their cars at home and jumping on a motorbike to explore New Zealand."
Meanwhile, the Hootnanny Country Rock Festival will celebrate cars, trucks and country music.
"We will focus on American and Australian cars because that's where cars are an essential part of the culture," says Watts.
Carnival rides, a car and truck show, freestyle motocross, barrel racing, tractor pull, monster trucks, lawnmower races, and a 200-stall country market will also be part of the family day out.
Kiwi country stars like Eddie Low, Dennis Marsh and Gray Bartlett as well as Jody Direen, Jenny Mitchell and Dust & Gold are part of the lineup for the live-music component of the festival.
"Thames is my home town, it is in such a great location, so I think it needs a signature event," says Watts.
For more information about the kickdown festival click here.
For more information about Hootnanny Country Rock Festival click here.
The details - Kickdown Festival
What: Kickdown Motorcycle Festival
When: January 20 to 23, 2022
Where: Joe's Farm, 1064 Tairua Road, Whangamatā
Tickets: https://kickdown.co.nz/ , different passes available, no gate sales
The details - Hootnanny Country Rock Festival
What: Hootnanny Country Rock Festival
When: February 25 to 27, 2022
Where: Thames Racecourse, Parawai Rd
Tickets: https://hootnanny.co.nz/ different passes available