Traditionally, Friday has been the most favoured day on the Beach Hop calendar, playing host to a mass cruise out to the coastal town of Onemana. It’s a great drive out from Whangamata that doesn’t take too long, and covers some entertainingly twisty stretches of road, but the end destination is really what makes it what it is. 

If it ain’t broke … the Repco Beach Hop 17 crew certainly didn’t try to fix it, keeping the Castrol Edge Thunder Cruise format much the same as earlier years. As per usual, entrants assembled at the Whangamata Esplanade from 8am, in preparation for an 11am departure. And, as per usual, the queue stretched all the way down and around the corner for a total line-up somewhere deep into the hundreds. 

From here, the cruise heads to Onemana, where it funnels into the Onemana Beach Reserve, which is split into a commodious upper area and slightly smaller lower reserve. As the upper reserve is far more sought after parking area, access is limited to those with a specific Castrol Edge Thunder Cruise windscreen decal — only given to those who actually took the time to check in and line up at Whangamata in the morning.

With a setting like this, it isn’t hard to see why Onemana is the destination of all Beach Hop destinations, nor why the upper reserve is the place to park up. 

Not only are there an overwhelming number of cars to check out within the coastal environment, but the reserve is such that it’s pretty easy to plonk yourself down and have a rest if the walking gets a bit much. You do tend to do a fair bit of walking at Beach Hop, so it’s always nice to be able to chill out somewhere. 

Whether you do that within a flock of cars or in front of the live music provided by Tim & the Rockets or Recliner Rockers, well, that’s up to you. 

And if it’s free stuff you’re after, Castrol were more than happy to provide, with a ‘test your strength’ contest, not to mention the eagerly anticipated fire-ups of Karl Boniface’s Nitro Flashback nostalgia funny car. 

However, it’s the cars that are the real stars, and the crowds were loving it all, especially being able to check out vehicles like Ian Neary’s remarkable ‘Eruption’ Plymouth GTX up close and in person. 

We’ve also noticed a rise in popularity of suicide-doored Lincoln Continentals, and this matt black beast looked positively sinister — especially in such stark contrast to the bright and shiny Pontiac Laurentian of Kaylam Singh. 

And how’s this for a weird little contraption? Yes, that is a Rover V8 and transaxle stuffed into the back of a tube-framed Mini. It’s a little weird, and probably more than a little wild! 

While that’ll have to be all for our online coverage of the Castrol Edge Thunder Cruise, it’s not the last you’ll be seeing of our Repco Beach Hop 17 coverage! Check back here for more updates, as well as the next issue of NZV8 magazine, and, of course, our NZV8 Beach Hop Annual which can be pre-ordered here with a free DVD.

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