A group of hardy people queued for over 24 hours in the freezing cold and rain to secure a sought-after beach hut for the summer.

Just 12 cabins were available for summer or all-year rental at Avon Beach in Christchurch and the dedicated staycationers went to extreme lengths to make sure they got their hands on one.

The huts were not available to book until 8am Monday, January 3, but staff arrived at the beach shop on Sunday morning at 7.30am to find several people already braving the elements.

The queue grew through the day, with dozens camping out overnight and around 50 people waiting by the time the administration office opened this morning.

Bournemouth Echo:

The mostly 6ft by 4ft huts, which cost £3,570 to rent out for the year, are typically booked up within minutes of opening.

Avon Beach has 130 huts lining the quiet sandy beach, which is popular with dog walkers, tourists and water sport enthusiasts.

Some of the huts change hands privately for as much as £80,000 and have gas-powered fridges and gas hobs inside.

Bournemouth Echo:

This year, there were 40 huts up for grabs for different periods of the year and just 12 available for the full summer holidays or whole year.

One of the first in the queue was Ken Ryder, 72, and his partner, Jan Manton, 70, who arrived at 4am on Sunday and waited 28 hours.

Ken said: "This is the 6th year I've queued to get a beach hut - we've been here for 28 hours.

"You read books and chat - that's all you can do to pass the time.

Bournemouth Echo:

"Luckily we're under cover beneath a canopy by the ice cream kiosk - the first dozen or so people get under there but the rest are out in the open.

"My wife came down from 8am until 10 yesterday morning so I could go and get breakfast, then she came back from 12 until 2pm and I stayed overnight.

"The reason we retired here was to be close to the beach and having a hut is just the icing on the cake."

Bournemouth Echo:

Nicola Davies arrived at 4am this morning and is one of the lucky few who secured a hut.

The 38-year-old mother of two said: "My grandfather made me promise to get one for the whole family but he passed away in November aged 93 so never got to see it happen.

"He loved to come down and watch his eight great grandchildren play by the sea.

"It's such a beautiful and friendly beach which is so clean and the kids feel safe here. It was well worth the wait."

Bournemouth Echo:

Beach hut manager Laura Huxtable-White said: "They are very sought after, which is why people are willing to queue up for so long.

"We have tried to be careful and asked people queuing to be mindful of social distancing.

"Avon Beach is a beautiful place to be, with lovely views of the Isle of Wight and we have our lovely restaurant, coffee cabin and soon-to-be new deli.

"With the pandemic and staycations, I think people are even more keen to get one this year.

"In lockdown last year the phones were extremely busy and yesterday we had a lot of calls from people checking they have the right date."