Like me, Russell has had a long career in Newspapers working in his old hometown of New Plymouth.
Click on any image to Enlarge
He was a Linotype operator making the slugs, think blocks of text that make up a newspaper page before computers. He worked with a lot of my old friends (photographers) who migrated to the Herald and the Star in later years.
When I worked at the Herald in the 70’s, we had to walk through the linotype room to get to the photographic department and it always fascinated me to see these things working. Big machines with great big lead bars being turned into blocks of text and then placed on the stone (the page). It was noisy too with the clatter of many of them. The Herald had roomfuls of them!
Back to Motorhomes .. Starting out in 2002, this is their 6th Motorhome or Caravan. Their first Motorhome was a small Japanese imported Isuzu Motorhome. They’ve had several others including a 5th Wheeler, a Dodge Ram with a slide on. A Laika motorhome, then a Dethleffs Magic and now the Frankia which they got last year.
It is equipped with a 3 litre, 190 HP Turbocharged Mercedes V6 with auto transmission.
As you would expect with a Motorhome like these, they are well appointed inside with every mod con you can imagine.
Favourite spots are the West coast of the South Island and Matai Bay in Northland.
Having had a few Motorhomes over the years, they have had plenty to compare this to and only had lots of nice things to say about their Frankia. A really nice Motorhome!
Its amazing who you end up meeting in campgrounds! After our first night in the Greytown Motor Camp, we moved to a sunnier site with more room next to Karen and Ian who were staying in their new Eldiss Caravan while they have their house built in Masterton.
Click on an Image to Enlarge
I popped my head in the door and introduced myself. Later in the day we got chatting and I discovered that they too were an Army family along with hearing about their huge success in the Olive industry.
They started their Olive business around 2001 by planting their first 1200 trees and later added more in 7 different varieties to bring the total trees up to approximately 1900. Over the course of the last 10 years, they have won numerous awards for the quality and flavours of their oil.
Last year they sold their business, Juno Olives, bought a caravan, are building a new house in Masterton and retiring! A busy year… All going well the house will be ready in July.
The caravan is a brand new Eldiss Explor with a rear bathroom and Karen’s favorite part, the HUGE shower. Downsizing from their house to their first experience in a caravan, they found the awning an absolute necessity along with the motor movers for shuffling it around at campsites.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
Inside the awning
Karen with a bottle of her Olive oil
Ian and Karen with their Caravan
Ian spent 20 odd years as an officer in the NZ Army specialising in Ammunition’s and Ballistics. He later spent many years in project management before the Olive industry beckoned. Karen was an Editor with TVNZ for years and later became a Technical Writer after doing a degree.
Its fascinating talking to people with these different backgrounds and working out how they both got from there to growing Olives 🙂
I’ve always liked the Eldiss caravans and their one is very comfortable with plenty of room. A lovely couple enjoying their caravan.
Fiona and I first met David and Liz at an annual Dethleffs do at Miranda years ago when they had their new A Class Esprit. They had it for several years until they fell in love with their 2010 Rapido A class Motorhome on Trade me.
It is 7.4 metres long, has a huge payload and is rear wheel drive with a Mercedes 185HP motor which “goes like stink”.
David and Liz both come from a long NZ Army background like us and David knows Fiona’s Dad, Uncle and they have many common friends.. love it when that happens!
We met up with them again at the Covi Rally at Ellerslie Racecourse.
Since they picked it up 8 months ago, they’ve done 20000k’s in it so they really enjoying it.
David’s favorite spot was Mt Cook on a beautiful clear day when they went on the Alpine Track.
Most French beds are tucked up against the wall and hemmed in top and bottom, making it hard work to make the bed.. this is the real thing! Access to 3 sides !
What I liked about this Motorhome over their last Motorhome was its nice cosy feel, it looks and feels solid but is still under 4 tons GVM.
Really nice people enjoying their really nice Motorhome.
I’d just switched the engine off and was plugging in the power point when Lance and Sophie pulled up alongside in the next door Camp spot. They were huge plots so we had plenty of room.
Click on an Image to Enlarge
It turns out that they has recently just bought it online from Palmerston North and was only 5 weeks old ! This one is a Flagstaff Mac made by the great American RV company Forest River.
This is their second one of this type although the first one was no where near as flash as this new one. They leveled it on the ground, plugged in the power cord to the post and flicked a switch and up it went! Quite impressive if you haven’t seen one before. Apparently their last one was a wind up one.
With a slide out dining area and the end bedroom areas that po out, its amazing how much room there is. It has a built in BIG gas heater for those cold nights too. Despite the fact that it is mostly canvas and several layers of blinds etc, it really holds the heat in.
Lance was saying they got theirs second hand but they are available here new for around $32k fully kitted out which is an option for families who have a limited budget and don’t want a big Caravan.
This was one of the first trips away they have had in it apart from bring it up from Palmerston North and they seemed very happy with it.
We all know how buses come in all shapes and sizes and this is why I find them amazing with self conversions as to what gets squeezed in and the décor.
Click on any Image to enlarge
My next door neighbours in Pauanui, Paul and Ruth were no exception to the surprises with their amazing bus.
Their 2008 Mitsubishi Rosa was one of a fleet of 10 or so 19 seaters that had been downsized due to the Covid lockdown. Paul had the choice of a few but they are all bright red! When Paul made a mention of the colour, “We can paint it any colour you like in our paint bay”! So it was given a new paint job too !
Over the course of 6 weeks off work, they both got stuck in and completely redid the insides to make it work as a motorhome and it looks fantastic.
A King size bed right across the back with a bed underneath for their big Labradoodle underneath.
On either side of the hallway on the sides are the toilet and shower on one side and the pantry, oven and galley on the other.
At the front is a table for 4 with new seats which were apparently a nightmare getting them certified for seat belts, and were installed on a solid plate together which in turn is bolted to the floor.
As Paul said it is still very much work in progress but from what I saw, on their first trip away, its all looking really good and very functional.
We were sitting down outside after the images and catching up on some of the details on their Motorhome when out of the blue, we realised that Paul’s brother and I used to work together at the Auckland Star back in the late 1980’s! .. Small world 🙂
Nice people, great motorhome and its going to look pretty flash when its all done.
At the Liteweight 75th anniversary, and right next door to us was Karine and Ross in their 1956 Starliner Starlette Caravan.
Click on an Image to enlarge
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.
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.
Click on an Image to enlarge
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.
Click on an Image to enlarge
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.
I haven’t ever seen one of these so when one rocked up and parked right next to me, the Sherlock Holmes in me came out and I had to go and check it out.
Click on an Image to enlarge
Julian and Dianne come all the way from Christchurch and bought it new in 2005. It is 7metres long on a Fiat chassis complete with air suspension and they love it.
It was made in West Auckland and apparently they were quite popular. They doing a big long tour around the north.
Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow
TV and Entertainment
The luton is used for storage.
Lovely older switches
I was pleased to see a slightly older Fiat motorhome looking in such good condition and although you can see where technology has changed with switches and things it all still works to their satisfaction.