At the Liteweight 75th anniversary, and right next door to us was Karine and Ross in their 1956 Starliner Starlette Caravan.
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Its tiny but over the last few years, from the wheels up, they have completely stripped and restored this little beauty. Ross has gone out of his way to keep it light and tow friendly .. it is less than 475 kgs!
It is a real Tardis but it is surprising how much room is there when the space is used efficiently.
It is what you’re used to as we found with our first Caravan, Wee Rafe.. not much bigger at 650kgs!
It is completely self contained and is surprising how much room it has in it.
They tow it with a 1964 Volvo 544 which would be a really rare car. I haven’t seen any of them anyway.
Ross has completely rebuilt this too including replacing the motor with a Ford Sierra motor and gearbox. It has Ford Mondeo wheels, Smits Gauges on the dash (Triumph Dolomite) Hyundai seats and discs all around. It was a real eyecatcher!
With its awning out they looked quite at home entertaining their friends during the day.
When I first found out about this, my first thought was to check in with friends Ross and Kay who I knew had just finished doing one of these beauties up to see if they were going to be there.
Ross and I both started as junior photographers at the NZ Herald in our early 20’s and its been a while since we last caught up.
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I had a commercial job in town on the Friday morning, which didn’t finish until midday so we were late out of the starting blocks and didn’t get to Cambridge until about 4pm, but that didn’t matter as many others were still arriving.
After settling down Rafe and after having a nosey around the park at some of the old Caravans, we checked in with Ross and Kay to see their amazing Caravan ..more on this in another post coming soon!
Ross had found an Indian restaurant only a block away so that was tea sorted! We had a great night catching up on all the news.
The next morning after getting up late 🙂 we had a look around some of the beautiful Caravans that were arriving as the day went on and chatting to some of the people there.
A great turnout of Caravans and some Motorhomes. It was a really well organised event with a slide show and BBQ too on the Saturday night so hats off to all those who organised the event. There were some great Caravans and not all of them Lightweights.
There was one there with a Penny Farthing strapped on towed by a nice old vintage Truck.
The lengths some had gone to with their Caravans to be faithful to their origins was amazing. There were also some really creative ways of restoring these Caravans with the absence of some hard to get parts. The good old Kiwi number 8 wire mentality shone brightly 🙂
Fiona was keen to do the shops in Cambridge and wanted a decent walk so she set off towards Cambridge’s main street which was about 3 k’s away.
The organisers of the event had arranged for a tour of the old liteweight factories which are now a gift and furniture shop and a huge ITM store on the outskirts of Hamilton. I had no idea it was such a big operation but they apparently had two productions lines pumping out up to 10 Caravans a day. Really interesting.
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Don Jesson showing where everything was when Lightweight were there.
One of only 5 of these left, only 50 were made.
One of the 5 left, the other end.
Looking at Dave McRobbies old collection of Caravans
Very social time!
A neat wee Tear drop
Rafe at the Cambridge Top 10 with the Lightweight Caravans
After this we had a quick look through Caravan and Motorhome World which was just across the road. The owner of this fine establishment is Dave McRobbie who started as an apprentice in the Liteweight factory and later went on to set up this business to service warranty claims and service any after market issues for the Liteweight product lines. That’s Dave’s red Caravan at the top of this post.
He had two Caravans of a model where only 50 were made and they know of only 5 left… A really unusual but lovely looking Caravan. .. see above and below.. same caravan being restored.
Here we saw some amazing early models of the Liteweights which Dave and his team has restored.
On the way back from Hamilton, we liaised with Fiona and met up for lunch in an old converted church in Cambridge for lunch.
A really interesting day and lots of images and really nice to see our old friends again.
This year it became part of the Covi Rally and Show as it has grown so much with Zion’s new brands. The more the merrier and more to talk about 🙂
I arrived at Ellerslie Racecourse around the middle of the day on the Friday and within minutes met Gary and his wife Alison who have a Dethleffs Esprit which is very similar to Rafe in layout, length and size and only a little younger. As it turns out I used to work with Gary’s Dad who was an editor at the Auckland Star when I was an 11 year old on work experience when I was at School. Small world and we had lots to talk about.
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When we first arrived there was a bit of confusion as to where to park so after a big Frankia moved from the inside of the Steeplechase jump, I moved in to the hole and Gary parked beside me. We had just finished parking when we bumped into several other people we knew too.
I was supposed to go to the show that afternoon but it all got a bit too social so I stayed put but it was a great afternoon. When the volunteer stand workers returned home, there was a gigantic happy hour squeezed in between Rafe and Gary’s Esprit.
Lots of fun and we met a lot of new people.
The owners of Zion Jonas and Irene, joined in too and it was a fun night.
The next morning was showtime. I caught the bus to the show and returned early in the afternoon. I was really looking forward to the Zion meal which was being hosted that night by Jonas and Irene out at Melba Restaurant in Manukau. We were picked up in Buses and after a great night, dropped off back to our Motorhomes.
Gary, Alison and I joined their friends Grant and Jo in their Airstream Bar which was parked near us for a few drinks afterwards for what was a really funny night. 😂
Lots of fun with some nice people. Thanks to Jonas, Irene for a great night at Melba.
Yes, it was at Tokoroa. Tokeroa is not somewhere I’ve spent any time at and after a walk around, its quite a neat wee town. Everything is handy and the locals all seemed super friendly.
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I was heading to the latest NZMCA Rally being the Timber Town Romp which was looking like being a real hoot. Hosted by the good folk from the Waikato area of the NZMCA, it was held at the recently setup South Waikato Events centre which was a fantastic venue.
After registering inside the centre, I met Des and Cathy who were manning the desk along with some others clocking everyone in. A big job.
That night I bumped into lots of people I knew which was fantastic, including Rodger and Diane who were parked right next door. I knew Rodger from his time as Custodian at the Ardmore Park. A great guy who most will know from the park and has been involved in several of the Covi shows parking at Ellerslie.
Tokoroa’s main street is undergoing some major road works so the original plan of opening the gates at 11am was quickly found to be impractical as the Motorhomes and Caravans starting queing earlier than planned. In the interests of safety and not cloggging up the main street, the decision was made to open early and get everyone safely parked.
I was in the main carpark making sure Motorhomes and Caravanners took a wide track so they could line up correctly for the entrance.
That carpark filled up around 11:30 so we started the other paddock. While another friend who I was pleased to see, Alan marked out several rows of new parking sites, I stood in the entrance way and directed them in. Others were parking them as they came onto the field. Everyone pitched in and we covered each other for cups of tea and lunch breaks etc..
It was a fun day and there were no disasters either which was a bonus 🙂 So after starting about 9am, most of us had finished about 4pm, we think we parked about 400 odd Motorhomes and Caravans ! Fortunately it got warmer as the day went on starting out around 5 degrees !
It was time for the first Happy Hour of the event and that was held in the Events Centre main hall which is HUGE! One of the biggest Happy Hours I’ve ever been to.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
Des with part of his team Registering everyone
My next door neighbour who’s wife makes amazing pickles.
Chief parking person Neal, parking someone.
Crowd watching Ebonivory
Neal enjoying the music
Crowd enjoying the music
Getting onto the floor
Happy Hour friends, Nelson, Maree, Keitha and Alan.
At 7pm there was a show from a solo performer Ebonivory Neville Ormsby where many got up onto the dance floor. Very slick too from a one man show. And this was just Day One!
This has to be the biggest Motorhome and Caravan rally ever held in NZ. Apparently nearly 1700 vehicles parked over the course of the 4 days.
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The volunteer parkers did a fantastic job. I arrived at the bottom of the hill and then realised I didn’t have any cash but with a rustle through Rafe, I eventually found some Washing machine money and had just enough!
Early the next morning I went for a walk around the edges and it was just amazing to see so many here. Despite the early hour, there were plenty of people out walking their dogs and enjoying the sunshine.
A great job done by the organisers and fantastic job by the volunteers. Thanks Guys.
Every year this is an event I look forward to and we missed it last year as we were in the South Island. This year it was held at Zion Motorhomes new premises at Pokeno rather than the usual Rally somewhere.
As the Rally this year was at The A&P Showgrounds at Pukekohe next to the Racetrack, Fiona and I decided we’d go straight to Pokeno and camp outside for the night. This worked really well as we found a driveway next to the Rental fleet yard and later we were joined by three or four others. Those at the showgrounds were bussed out to Pokeno and back.
Since we bought Rafe, Jonas and Irene have added several new brands of Motorhomes to their stable. This year we were also joined by Morelo, Frankia and Niessman and Bichoff owners too.
In previous years, they’ve been held at Camping grounds and one year was at the Car Museum in Hamilton where Gary and I did the parking!
The event was well organised by the Zion crew with a couple of ladies singing and the food was fantastic.
Over the course of the night, there were some spot prizes given out. Some were drawn out of the pot and others were for answers to some easy questions.. like who’s the youngest and who had the highest NZMCA number !
Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow
Fulltimers in their XLI, Ian and Linda having fun. Good to see them again too.
Jonas having a say.
The front half of the showroom
The Foods up
Old friends Bruce and Judy from Coromandel. They’ve got Rafes twin with the same colour too. There are only a handful of Globe4’s in NZ as they were only imported for a short time.
At the Zion Motohomes table
More at the Zion table
Down the road a bit
It was nice to see some of our old friends that we haven’t seen for a while and amazing to think that our Rafe is one of the oldest Dethleffs Motorhomes on NZ roads as Jonas only started bringing them in not long before we bought ours 🙂
A great night thanks to Jonas and team and I’m looking forward to next years.
This is just bigger than Ben Hur.. There must be more than 450 Motorhomes and Caravans here and they’re still piling in.
Due to the weather being rather nasty last weekend, the Barfoot and Thompson Races were postponed to coincide with this rally and the races were on while the Motorhomers were crossing the track into the centre. … Between the races of course.
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All in good humour and as the day went on, little groups popped up all around the rally with gatherings for a few quiet cold ones while the horses galloped around the track. A great atmosphere.
It never ceases to amaze me how the good folk of the NZMCA who put themselves out there and go the extra mile for the benefit of everyone else. The Covi/Spoton team organised this rally from scratch and had a roster to make sure that everybody that needed some help or guidance got what they needed and were happily and safely parked.
Dusk on the first night
It was disappointing to hear that a few NZMCA members who failed to check whether their dogs were allowed, made a scene and got unnecessarily nasty for our cheerful volunteers.
Come on guys.. Common sense… Racecourse, horses and dogs don’t go together.. especially when there is a race meeting on. For those responsible for this display of bad manners, it’s nice to think that we could be be respectful and helpful for those volunteering and doing their best for the rest of us.
On the positive side, one of the volunteer Rally Marshalls, Jim was telling me that a couple of members who arrived with dogs just to see where they could go, were very thankful when they were redirected to another parking spot just around the corner where dogs were permitted… Nice !
The team also organised a great free bus service to the show which was fantastic.
A great rally, some nice people and thanks to Auckland Racing Club, Ellerslie racecourse and of course the Counties NZMCA team for having us there.
It is always a great occasion once a year when the nations Dethleffs owners get together for a catchup all in one spot. Its a good opportunity to see what others have done to their vans to make their motorhoming more fun.
Click on the images to see them in Hi Res or a slideshow
This year was the biggest yet with 75 motorhomes and caravans which made life interesting to yours truly and my old friend Gary from Taupo to get them all parked. We had a lot of fun as we did it with little walkie talkies that Gary had. The hard part was not being able to have a chat with everyone as they came in, that had to wait for later. As they all had the same sided habitation door, we decided we’d park them in rows with the doors facing together on a 3 metre space and the opposite side being a 4 meter space so that people could escape without skittling tables and chairs etc and it worked really well.
The first 40 odd arrived on the Friday and everyone settled in, met old friends and checked out the car museum. The car museum is fabulous. We visited this last March and had a good look through. You can see that here. There are all those cars that we had as kids, the Mark 1 Zephyrs, the Prefects and a lot older. It really is something to see. Outside is normally a NZMCA POP where you can stay overnight and it was nice to see friends Marama and Karen pop in for the night.
Inside the Museum
The front of the Auburn
Fiona’s favourite, the Messerschmitt
A car I had as a teenager, a Mark 1 Zephyr
The back of the Auburn
The next day after a good breakfast in the Juke Box Diner onsite, we caught a bus to a local Tea Estate and got to taste and learn about locally grown tea which was really interesting and on the way back popped in for lunch at the Hamilton Gardens Café. Some decided to walk off their lunch around the amazing gardens.
Off to check out the tea
Arriving at the tea place off the bus.. Fiona, Gary and Dianne
Sussing out the Tea
Gary Aroma checking
Dianne smelling the aroma
Lunch at the gardens café, Graham from Tauranga, Fiona, Gary and Dianne
The latecomers on the other side and the Marquee
Bev in her and Bernies Esprit
Peter and Bernie on their tables!
Fush and Chups
cell phone pic
After getting back to HQ at the museum, it was open home for motorhomes so a quick vacuum and a tidy up of Rafe and it was visits all around. Lots of fun and it was nice to see people we hadn’t seen for a long time.
At 6pm it was time for a drink in the Marquee and a feed in the Diner which was immediately followed by a great display of the local rock n roll dance club and they were fantastic.
We finished up the day with Dianne and Gary with friends Ian and Lynda in their XLI right next to us. A lot of fun and we had some great laughs.
A great day and well hosted by Mr and Mrs Dethleff in NZ, Jonas and Irene Ng. Thanks guys and thanks to Dianne for organising a great day out.
And the Netspeed speed test from this site.
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While we were at Kuratau, we went for a trot through the park at the back of where the rally was and followed the river down to the Taupo lakefront. There are well set tracks and it is an interesting walk through bush and parks.
Enjoy the images, remember to click on them for hi res
Gary, Fiona and Dianne walking through the park
Fiona, Dianne and Gary on our way back to the Kuratau Rally
Interesting clouds on the lakefront
A real contrast of landscape. Huge cliffs up from the water and really colourful trees and river reeds. There are some houses lucky enough to have a jetty at the bottom of the lawn against the river too.
At the lake front, there is an interesting walk down to a memorial on the lakefront. Some children were happily playing in the water, the sun was shining with no wind. Another nice part of the world.