Before I’d even turned off the motor, Peter emerged from his caravan as my neighbour to show me where I should park to avoid the soft spots. We were due to get some fairly heavy rain overnight in Coromandel so it was very helpful advice.
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After realigning Rafe to take advantage of some fairly serious layers of gravel under the grass, I switched off and went over to say hello.
After chatting to them for a while, Peter’s wife Margie said that their son was in the very first rotation when the NZ Army went into Afghanistan years ago. My son Alex was there about the same time and was in infantry but they didn’t know each other.
Back to the caravan ! ..Their Caravan was freshly imported from the UK about a year ago.
Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow
The Galley area
Peter and Margie live in Tuakau and had their daughter and her family here too.
Fully self contained with everything you need, there is plenty of room for all. With a centre island bed and completely self contained it is a very comfortable caravan.
I ended up spending two nights here with them and with another Tuakau friend in a pop up trailer caravan. Lots of fun with some nice people.
One of the amazing finds at the Whangamata Beach Hop this year was literally parked right next to us. It was the vintage combination of a 1957 Ford Mainline Ute towing a Canadian Adventurer 5th Wheeler and it was a perfect match in scale and style.
Coming from a Retro Caravan background, Ray and Cathie were keen to make it easier to get the self containment issue solved a so decided to start with the Ford Mainline and match it with a 5th wheeler..
After selling their Caravan, they bought the Ford Mainline and at their home in Tauranga, fixed up some rust and upgraded the motor to a 347 Stroker Ford motor and a few other changes and with a really nice paint job, it looks spectacular.
Then came the 5th wheeler which they found in Whangarei and over a 4 year period they’ve nearly completed the project. Ray described it to me as a “leaky building” and they recently just put a whole new back on it. I couldn’t get over how well matched they were in scale and style when they first arrived.
It looks fabulous and its name Bucket of Vino suggests they’re going to celebrate their efforts with the project’s completion. 🙂
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.
Click on an Image to enlarge.
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.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
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.
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.
We woke up to another stunning day at Tekapo NZMCA park by the lake. Ray and Margaret next door in their bus were up and about. Fiona had an idea that she’d like to take Rafe out and check out some of the lakes nearby.
As soon as I stepped out to see Ray, they were doing exactly that and did we want to come with them in their Toad (Suzuki). Then came the rustling around for thermos flasks and cooly bags. A better idea said I, why don’t we take Rafe and we’ll have fridge and cup of tea / butter etc facilities. We were off.
Click on the Images for Hi Res
Ray and Margaret have been on the road in their bus for 4 ½ years so there aren’t many places in the South Island that they don’t know about. One of their little Gems was a neat place called McGregor Lake and Lake Alexandrina.
Its about 12k’s from Tekapo and is run as a campsite by a Community Committee. It is in a fantastic spot on the side of a river between the two lakes. Just spectacular.
You can stay their for $10 a night per person. There are Toilets and Showers and rubbish along with an outdoor kitchen.
Our first stop was the Dump Station at Tekapo to fill and empty and then the local 4 Square shop for some fresh bits for lunch, then we were off.
We headed along the road to Mt St John and then a short gravel road and we were there.
We met a chap who had been there a while in his caravan and was keenly following the antics of the local Paradise Ducks. He directed us further down a track to the other area where there more than 50 Caravans and a whole bunch of Baches up on the hill.
As we walked along the river, Ray told us about a time when he was here earlier when he saw Salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The small river was just chocker with Salmon. It would have been quite sight !
With the caravans on both sides of the river, its just an idylic spot to stay. No shops and no pubs but if you’ve got a kayak or just want to blob, what a sensational spot.
After a good look around, we retired to Rafe for lunch with cups of tea and plenty of laughs.
The images say it all. Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
A bridge across the river
Baches on the hill
Lake Alexandrina with boat sheds
Showers and Kitchen
Ray checking out one of the pumps
Rules of the road
Margaret, Ray and Fiona walking back for lunch
Rafe ready for lunch
After lunch we tidied up and headed back to Tekapo Club camp and organised ourselves for the next event of the day, Happy Hour!
As the afternoon wore on, more and more neighbouring Motorhomers and Caravanners came over to join us. Its really interesting meeting people from all walks of life and where they come from. Lots are retired but many still work and its interesting hearing their stories.
I woke up this morning and looked out of the window to see this. It’s huge but looks the business as well.
I first saw one in the flesh at the Covi show and photographed it as well. It turns out that Kel and Jenny had just taken delivery of their new baby and lent it to Jonas and the Dethleffs team for the Covi show. I had a think about this and thought, that would be hard to do. With something like this and having only recently got it, you’d just want to disappear in it 🙂
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Kel and Jenny have sold their house in Auckland and are full timing in their 9.42 metre (incl drawbar) Dethleffs Exclusive caravan. Their first big trip was around the South Island early this year and it went well.
Kel tells me he nearly cried when he marked one corner of it as he came off the ferry as the 4m back overhang swung out. I know how he felt as I nailed a corner on the back of Rafe not long after we got it and felt sick.. My new baby was injured ! Their parts are all here and she’s about to go to caravan hospital to made all better again so all’s well.
The Exclusive is 8.05 metres long(body) and its tare weight is 2040kg with a max of 2800kg.
I had a quick look through and can see lots of similarities with Rafe. The high standard of workmanship, the comfy feel, it’s all there. A very nice caravan and when I first met them both, they had smiles a mile wide so they’re obviously enjoying their freedom and their new home on the road.