Three days after the hugely successful Whitianga Summer Concert in which Bonnie Tyler, Alan Parsons and Icehouse played to a sell-out crowd of some 15,000 on Anniversary weekend, the town billboards had already been changed to promote the Queen’s Birthday weekend Mercury Music Festival.

So, when the town entrance sign says “Whitianga – enjoy”, that’s absolutely what it means. If there’s one thing the Coromandel Peninsula excels at, it’s promoting its many occasions and attributes. Whitianga’s local paper The Informer produces two events guides each year, and now the Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) has begun issuing a comprehensive, informative and professional Summertime magazine that targets the many ratepayers who live outside the district, explaining how their rates have been spent, and attempting to lure them back for the holiday season.

Views from Buffalo Beach

We went to Whitianga for the concert and decided to stay a while. Held at an as-yet-unused part of the waterways development, the concert opened with the very good New Zealand acts White Chapel Jack and AutoMatic 80s getting the crowd in the mood to hear the international stars. And they were great! It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon – hot but with some cloud cover well done event organisers for constantly reminding the crowd of the availability of free sunscreen and water.

Even so there were plenty of sunburnt bodies, and as we left, a few of these people were jumping into the waterway to cool off. But there was no bad behaviour, traffic management was good and a great time was had, certainly by our group, who followed it up with wine and a barbeque.

View of Whitianga Wharf

If the waterways development is any indication, there’s quite a growth spurt going on in Whitianga as cashed-up city dwellers move into the area. I was told that the wait to have a house built could be as long as three years. Subdivisions are being carved out to the north of town, and while all this energy is creating vibrancy, there are concerns at the lack of low-cost housing and rentals for the many people needed to, among other things, service the area’s tourism industry.

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