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.
After 3 years or so of restoring their 1963 Liteweight Silver Mist, Ross and Kay finally got to get their first night away in it. What a WOW moment and huge sense of satisfaction that must be, when you’re lying there on the first night taking it all in. 😊
I’m sure there were anxious moments but it all worked out well and they looked really comfortable in it.
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Over the course of a few years in between work commitments and building a house, they have finished what I thought was an absolute gem.
This is their first foray into older Caravans and they have done a fabulous job of getting all the period door handles, power sockets and then decorated it with all the period fittings.
Looking really good guys, a lovely Caravan, well done and nice to see you both again.
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 is THE place for a stop for lunch with a Motorhome. Easy parking right over the road, good service and fantastic food.
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We were heading south from Auckland and it so often happens, it was right on lunch time and we both decided it was time to eat.
We have stopped at this Hotel before and discovered the standard of food to be above and beyond so we were looking forward to lunch.
Within minutes of being in there, Fiona was on the end of a big G&T and I had a glass of Chardy and we were waiting for our electronic beeper to do its thing.
The pub was built in 1904, partially burnt down and rebuilt in 1905 and given that the Maori wars only finished 35 years or so before that, it was one of the early bigger buildings in the Waikato area.
The river flooded early this century and virtually surrounded the pub in water.
The beeper went off and Fiona got the meals. I had an amazing Macaroni Cheese “Mac and Cheese” on the menu for $13 which was very filling and was very tasty.
We had a quick look around and carried on with our journey south.
There is an old Maori Wars Cemetery right opposite which is also worth a look at.
One to remember for both the quality of the food, the service, the price, the ambience and the easy parking 🙂
Seeing 600 plus Motorhomes and Caravans as your first view coming into the top of Mystery Creek is always a nice experience. And the first person I see at the bottom helping with the parking was Noel who I met at Tokoroa a year ago.
Once I’d parked Rafe, who should come rocking past on his electric bike but Neal who was organising the parking both then and now. He was saying that the team had parked nearly 800 vehicles in Hamilton so far. Given the effect of people getting over lockdowns and everything else, that’s a great turnout and a job well done for the parking team. This was just after lunch on Friday with two days to go!
They did a great job and everywhere you looked, just about completely surrounding the main Pavilion were Motorhomes and Caravans. A great sight. Nicely done Team Waikato !
It is very rare for me to get Fiona interested in going to one of these so we both arrived early on the Friday afternoon. The show was well into its second day so there were plenty of people there and it looked great.
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Coming down the Mystery Creek hill there was a glorious sea of white roofs for miles. The parkers looked like they had done another great job getting everyone in. Lots of happy faces and a good atmosphere.
After settling down Rafe, opening some vents and having a cup of tea, it was off to the show to see what was new.
The show was considerably smaller due to the postponement and Covid but there was still plenty to see.
One of the first things we saw was the new Dethleffs Trend with the rear bathroom. Its amazing the difference it makes to the layout of the whole van as the usual cupboard like setup on the side completely disappears for a more open layout.
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The Trend with the rear bathroom showing the space
Bathroom – Trend
The bathroom – Trend
The Dethleffs Trend with the rear bathroom.
The next thing we came across was the small Baileys D4-3 Discovery Caravan with the Awning that covers two sides. The space that the caravan doesn’t use on a pitch is covered by an almost wrap around awning.. really unusual and neat to see a different way of getting space.
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The Bailey with the BIG surrounding awning.
Inside the Bailey
The Bailey lounge area
Quite a lot of room for a small Caravan – Bailey
The Bailey with the Awning
We checked out the NZMCA stand and it was nice to see Ryan and the rest of the team there.
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Lots to see
A Pilote A class my first look.
The Pilote Aclass
Pilote A Class
Pilote A class Galley
Old and new VW’s
Outside in the eating area.
After having a good look around, we headed outside to see the vintage caravans. I love what these guys do to these lovely cars and caravans, and the effort that is made to keep these in such good shape.
I was getting some piccies of one when suddenly in front of me a smiley face popped into the frame and it was the happy owner Alex. The 59 Chev which he used to tow it was a perfect match in colour and it was easily one of the best there.
It was happy hour time so Fiona and I headed back to Rafe to meet our neighbours and enjoy something wet and cold 🙂
The show was definitely smaller than usual but the fact that it on at all was amazing.
Grant and Jo went over to the US with the idea that they wanted to buy an Airstream Caravan.
They met a chap there who had two of them. So after agreeing to buy both of them, the guy says “Hang on a minute, I’ve got this too around here”, and showed them the then rather dilapidated 1972 Airstream Bar. Grant tells me it was “not a lot” so he bought that too and shipped all three back!
Once they all landed back in NZ, the 2nd Caravan was sold so they could do up the Bar and a year later and lots of hard work, its looking pretty good. With a huge fridge, new lighting and a great sound system, its a fun way to spend a night.
We spent a really good night here after the Zion Motorhomes function at Ellerslie and it was a real hoot.
Parked just a couple of rows across was a flash big German Caravan called a Vivaldi made by Tabbert.
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Brent and Natalie from Papamoa are the proud owners of this fantastic Caravan and most afternoons of the Timber Town Romp, there was a Happy Hour set outside this van. The others in the Happy Hour were mostly Brent and Natalie’s neighbours at Papamoa where they are based.
I popped over and joined them one afternoon and the next morning went over for a chat and a look see. One of the first things you notice are the massive windows.
At 8.65 metres long, its a biggie but apparently tows well. With 800 watts odd of Solar power and massive storage, theyre never going to have the lights dim 🙂
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Lovely dining/Kitchen area
Brent and Natalie
From the front
After buying the 2005 model van 3 years or so ago from a dealer in the South Island, where they used to live, they’ve now been “everywhere” but their favorite places are up North.
A nice Caravan and well set up for some fantastic trips to come.
Slightly off the beaten track south of Karapiro but part of the Waikato River Trail is the little town of Arapuni. Its an amazing spot with a really impressive historical Swing Bridge and an old power station built into the side of a hill.
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The Swing Bridge was built in the early 1920’s so that workers for the power station could get to work. The power station is the oldest and the largest in capacity and was opened in 1929. It is now under the protection of the Historic Places trust and signs at the site, show the effort that went into protecting it from possible Japanese bomb attack during the war by camouflaging it.
And just down the road from the bridge, Leonie runs a great Motorhome and caravan site in her back yard which is a flat paddock, where NZMCA’rs can stay for $10 with power, toilet and shower. There are modern 10 power points and its really easy parking. You might need levelling ramps in some areas but its all very easy with an honesty box and simple instructions.
The site is an easy walk to the bike trail and to the town and to the Swing Bridge which is spectacular. Its well worth the walk and is only 10-15 minutes away on foot, either along the road or via the bike trail just outside the park.
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Leonie’s Parking Toilet and Shower block
One of the old Turbines from the power station.
The Cafe in the main st
I’m not one for heights now I’m getting a bit older and a bit more sensible, so it took me a couple of go’s before I went out in the middle of the bridge 🙂 .. but in my defence, there was a lot of wind 🙂
I’m pleased I did though.. check out the image below.
On the way back to Rafe, I stopped in at the only shop on the main road which happily is a Cafe. I stopped for lunch on the way back to Rafe. The food is great and they do a great coffee too!
Leonie’s Motorhome Park is fantastic and we’ll be back with the bikes to do the trails around here.