Journey Hamilton, left, Jordan Hamilton and Kingston Hamilton are busy digging through the sand for prizes at the Waitārere Beach big dig.
A mad dash into the sand turned into joy over winning prizes at the annual Waitārere Beach big dig.
About 1000 people entered the event at the beach on Saturday, fossicking around in the sand for prizes, part of a fundraiser for the Levin and Districts Brass Band.
People can buy a ticket and dig in either the adult’s or children’s pit for tokens, which can be redeemed for prizes.
Five-year-old Maddie Robson was proud as punch with her prize: a fizzy drink, a new hat, and vouchers for a free ice-cream and burger.
It took her about 15 minutes to find her winning token.
“It was hard at the beginning, but it was easy when all the sand got disturbed.”
Maddie’s mother Kylie Duncan said they holidayed at Waitārere Beach every year, and they were excited about the big dig.
“It’s something we always come back to.”
Jackson Rhoades, 5, was gleefully holding his prize, a swing ball set, after his father Tim found a token.
Tim said they have been coming to the big dig for a few years, and he enjoyed digging with his son.
Levin and Districts Brass Band president Chris Craddock said the business community had been hugely supportive despite the effects of Covid-19, with the same businesses donating prizes.
“It’s a real institution for the Horowhenua, for holidaymakers and locals alike for the last 36 years.”
There were 150 adult prizes and 150 for children, and usually most tokens are found. Last year only three weren’t found.
“People will stick it out right to 4 o’clock.”
Club members rake the pits in the morning to clear the area of driftwood, then bury the tokens and rake the pits over again to hide the tokens’ location.
Craddock said 987 people paid the $4 entry fee to dig and there were another 300 people watching.
He believed the early weather forecast may have scared a few people off, but it turned into a beautiful day in the afternoon, with the sun out at the beach and plenty of people swimming.