Meeting Peter, Wendy, Grant, Sharron, Mike and Pam in Northland and checking out their American buses was a lot of fun. They’re a great bunch and have been travelling together for a few years. Three of them even knew each other from back in their school days !
Click on an image for Hi Res
The Holiday Ramblers are on a Ford chassis with 6.8 litre V10 petrol engines with 6 speed auto gearboxes and honestly, when you stand next to them outside, you can barely hear them running. They’re so quiet.
They’re 10 metres long with centre island beds on a 9 ton ticket. They all have slide outs which makes them huge inside. The décor is very similar with the only difference being that Mike’s has a bigger single slideout on one side.
As they pulled up beside Rafe, there was a whir of engines with the Hydraulic rams levelling them up, the slideouts coming out and the awnings rolling out. All of them at the same time ! This is Motorhoming the easy way 🙂
They were imported as a bunch of 12 by a Tauranga importer who had them specially designed for NZ road conditions (width) and wired to conform with the NZ electrical standards, several years ago.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
Dining area with of the the twin slideouts.
Lots of Living space on Mike and Pam’s Rambler.
The large single slide out on Mike and Pam’s Rambler
The Dining area on Mike and Pams vehicle.
The Helm station
With the large single slideout.
L to R, Peter and Wendy, Pam and Mike, Grant and Sharron with their Motorhomes.
Peter, Wendy, Grant, Sharron, Mike and Pam are either on the phone most nights planning their adventures together with their amazing Motorhomes or on the road.
One of the discoveries we made in Europe was the huge impact on life in a Motorhome when you have drop down steadies. Our Uk rental, Ralph had quite squishy air suspension and had a couple of steadies on it but being a rental, the steadies had been damaged. The thread had been stripped on one side but we were able to get enough out of it to make a difference.
Click on the Images for Hi Res or a Slideshow
From this, I made a decision that we would get some added to Rafe when we got home to NZ.
The other discovery was finding better door catches for holding the doors open against the wind. The ones that come of the Dethleffs and a lot of other brands are small plastic things which are as effective as an ash tray on a motorbike 🙂
While we were looking through the huge Motorhome accessory store, Berger in Berlin, I found bigger catches for roughly 2 Euros a pair and got 3 pair for the habitation door and the garage doors at the back of Rafe.
The day came when we could get the Drop Downs installed and while we were there, get the catches changed.
One of the Alko Drop Down Steadies about to be installed
Waiting for Bolts
Bolting up the dropdowns
Cleaning up the base
On wit the new clips
Vantage RV had some Alko Drop downs which had brackets made for another Dethleffs customer who had changed their mind and so were left with them in their store cupboard.
The ones they had were set up for an A class vehicle which is higher that Rafe so they had to be shortened and have the feet re welded on.
They look fantastic, they work well and although Rafes suspension is a lot stiffer than Ralphs being a lot younger, they work brilliantly.
The catches make a huge difference too and it was all done in a couple of hours. Brilliant!!
This campsite in Dresden takes the cake for value for money and its a great easy to use tidy campsite and is well used. It is completely automated with entry barrier arms where you take a ticket like a carpark and you pay when you exit. There is a graphic based machine which allows you pay with different languages and also dispenses tokens for both the showers and the power.
Click on the images for Hi Res
When we arrived at Schaeffer Mobile Stellplatz, we simply rocked up to a barrier arm and pushed a button for a card, just as you would in a parking building.
As we drove in there were 6 rows of parks on either side and it was simply just a case of selecting a park. After parking, there was just the job of plugging in to the power which is charged by the kwh.
All very simple.
There was no one anywhere near the site apart from the camping shop, and the Hymer / Dethleff / Concorde dealership in front.
We ordered hot bread for 8 am in the morning for a couple of Euro’s .. magic!
All you had to do was keep an eye on your power consumption as an electric jug would eat through your tokens for power depending on your consumption.
For two days staying with free wifi, toilets, black and grey water the total was 30 Euros for two days stay and 4 euros for power (We had an electric jug!)
There was free Wifi and the water was 50c (Euro) per 50 litres and you could buy different amounts. Black and grey dumping was free.
NZ equivalent = about $60!! .. good value..
I can see this working well for the NZMCA sites, even partially where they have power available and charged by the kWh for those who want to use it.
It has been two and half years in the making but we’ve finally solved the Glass cabinet problem.
When we first picked up Rafe, unlike other Dethleffs, the Esprits, the Sunlights, the Magic series’s and the Trends.. all of them had Glass cabinets you could fit a glass in. The Globe 4’s cabinet had two shelves in it and was so narrow that only shot glasses and really small glasses would ever fit in.
Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow
The first thing I did was remove the shelves so normal sized glasses would fit if they were narrow enough. Then there was the problem on how to fix the glassware so it wouldn’t rattle or get damaged as we moved from place to place.
A couple of lengths of pine screwed in across the cabinet and some tool clips to hold the glasses and we’re all done.
While we were in Martinborough earlier this year, Fiona found 11 cystal glasses in an antique shop by the square. They suited perfectly. Her new name from friends Gary and Dianne is “Mrs Waterford” and I think she suits the name quite well 🙂
The shelf with the crystal glass base sitting over the edge.
A tool clip
The screw taking the weight of the pine
I’ve set the cabinet up for these glasses as we have a few spares if a couple get broken.
Both “Mrs Waterford” and I are both pretty pleased with the way the cabinet looks and there no rattles at all.
We were right on the edge at Simpsons Beach by Whitianga. A fabulous spot which we’ve been to a few times before.
Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow
Its on a farm owned by the Simpson family which runs along the foreshore and behind which they’ve been letting people camp at for many years. They charge $10 per vehicle, Motorhome or Caravan per night and donate the money to a cause of their choice. A fantastic gesture and they’re super nice people.
One of the quirky things about this area is the Netspeed Mobile Internet coverage. There is a 4G beam from Whitianga out over the water but Simpsons Beach is right on the edge of it but more in the beam for 3G. Because it is 1 click into the 4G, it can’t do anything useful and surfing the web or anything else is a waste of time.. nothing happens ! A lot more happens on 4 bars of 3G than 1 blip of 4G!
What I found you had to do is go into the Huawei App on your ipad or iphone and turn the “Auto” feature off to “3G” so that the router will settle for 3G and not be too ambitious 🙂
The steps on a Ipad app.. Click on the settings cog on the right hand top of the screen. Then click on Network, then Network Carrier. You’ll see Preffered Network at the top.. click on that to get 3 G and select it and back out (without touching anything else 🙂 ) Its a good idea to reboot the router at this point and it will be away with plenty of throughput.
Click on the images below to follow the gallery in order.
Select Network carrier
Select preferred Network
As you come out, you should see this.
This will affect any wireless carrier anywhere. Its all about your position relative to a transmitting tower.
There must be other spots around NZ where this happens too. Just remember to return the settings to “Auto” after you leave Simpsons Beach or another place like it.
Despite this minor alteration to get Fiona her Netflix fix, Simpsons Beach is a fabulous spot and we love staying here. Once when it was chocker in the middle of summer, the local Mr Whippy van cruised through for ice creams 🙂
Its interesting that while quite a few brands of Motorhomes have adopted tracklighting, many haven’t.
Click on the images for Hi Res
Rafe started out in life having three tracklights for lighting. Two on either side of the saloon and one across the top of the bed for reading lights. They were probably a great idea in that you can twist and slide the lights and put them anywhere you want them and also shift them out of the way. The only catch with them is that the ones that we have, have very flimsy plastic tabs on them which are so easy to break off, its ridiculous.
To be fair to the manufacturers, they can’t be blamed for excited grandchildren accidently bumping into them with their heads when they’re standing on the seats but when the owners are reluctant to use them in case they break, to me means there is a problem.
The other issue is that we found that as we cruised around NZ, the screws holding the glass would undo and eventually the glass would end up smashing on the table below with glass everywhere.
In the end after breaking a few, we now travel with them in a box and tend not use them for fear of snapping the tabs or breaking them.
After looking for ages through lighting shops and RV places, I discovered some really nice LED lights for another model Dethleffs which I ordered through Vantage RV. They had to come from Germany and just arrived the other day so I didn’t waste any time getting them installed. These ones are screwed into the shelves and I’ve set them back out of harms way.
I really wanted to remove the track but found that it was glued as well as screwed so I’m still thinking about this as I don’t want to butcher the cabinets getting it out.
The lights are fabulous. We recently had the first trip away with them and the light was awesome.
What an amazing vehicle. Brian bought this 1981 Revcon of EBay sight unseen and had it shipped to NZ in 2012. It was in his words, “a bit of a mess” so he set to and spent the next two years renovating it.
Most of the furniture is the same but recovered except the bedroom which went from single beds to a centre island Queen bed.
Of course, you can’t have a vehicle like this without having a cocktail cabinet.
Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow
The “Handle Bars” had to be shifted too to right hand drive which was a bit of a mission given its a 454 Chev V8 with a chain driven transfer box all driving the front wheels so there is a lot going on under the floor at the sharp end! Once it was all done, Brian and his wife Enid “the Nagivator ” 🙂 shipped it off to Oz where they spent a year or so clocking up over 25000 miles and loving every minute of it.
Brian with the Revcon
At 10 miles to the gallon, she’s a thirsty girl but what a great look and a comfy 30 feet of Motorhome history.
Brian is keen to do up a smaller GM and is currently looking for one to buy to get started with.
I met Derek while he was doing the rounds of the Bland Bay Motorcamp offer complete strangers Tuna which he and his friends had caught off the beach. He popped his head in the door of Rafe with a nice wooden platter with beautifully cut thick slabs of Tuna with a couple of sauces.I later joined him for a drink and found we had lots to talk about with my family Army background.. .. Back to Derek!
Most of Derek and June’s live’s have revolved around his postings during his years in Infantry and Signals in the NZ Army.After 20 years, in 1984, he retired and they bought a Tearoom business in Picton which they had for 2 years. For 5 years after this they had a Motels complex and Guesthouse, also in Picton.
Don’t forget to click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow
They then sold this and bought an RV in the US and spent 18 months travelling around there.
Returning to NZ and after selling their house, they bought their Isuzu bus which they modified for their use and have since been living in and enjoying travelling all around NZ with their Dog and their Cat. They even have a custom made cat flap and ramp for their cat to come and go on.
When asked their favourite spot.. NZ was the answer.
The cat Flap and ramp
The Living area
The kids from around the camp admiring the Marlin
While I was with them in Bland Bay, Derek with 4 friends in a 26 ft odd runabout caused great excitement when they returned to the beach with a 149kg Marlin. The whole camp got involved. A lovely couple enjoying their Motorhome.
A couple of months ago, I found out that Philips had released a portable Induction plate and they were available via our NZMCA discount from Noel Leeming.
I had to try one and since using it, I’m completely sold. Fiona loves it too. Its amazing.
Don’t forget you can click on the images for hi res!
Just recently I got really brave and decided to try to boil the water for coffee on it with our scruffy old kettle. From a cold water start, in the time it took to put coffee and pills into a cup and a tea bag in the other, and milk in both, the kettle was whistling its head off. Even with gas, this would take all of 5 minutes or so.
Cooking a steak… cold frypan, a little oil… chuck the steak in, hit the go button and the pan is sizzling within 5 seconds !!!! .. and it tastes sensational.
Admittedly you can only use it when you’re plugged in but its neat to be able to use this instead of gas and it keeps control of the heat instantly.
The only thing you have to check is that you have pots that a magnet will stick to and it comes with a magnet so you can check your pots. The unit will scream at you if you don’t have anything on it or the pot is incorrect.
Recommended Retail is $199 from Noel Leeming .. my discounted price was closer to $120 !! …although this was a few months ago.
This is the tale of our mini adventure to the Outer Hebrides in our 6m coach built motorhome. I hope you find the story of the people we met and the places we've seen interesting and useful if you're planning your own trip.