Anything related to motorhoming not covered in any other forums.
 #140567  by townfox
 Tue May 15, 2018 1:06 pm
Hi there, my name's Kevin and my wife and I are planning to buy a british import type caravan. We intend to take our four kids (aged 7-10) on a NZ road trip for a few months or maybe couple of years depending how things go. We'll try and cover as much as we can of NZ, north and south islands. I've got a couple of questions in mind as I've not got any caravanning or motor homing experience to call on. The closest experience I have is my wife and I bought a Chevvy van in Canada in 1999 and drove 25,000 km around the USA over 2.5 months. We realised how big the states were after that. We 'freedom camped' back then, not that it was called that I don't think. We would just pull over on the side of the road, somewhere with an amazing vista and cook and sleep. Great fun. To us, that's what appeals about freedom camping... it's the spots you get as compared to a marked area in a camping ground which I'm not too keen on. Closely related to this is that we do a fair bit of sailing in our keel boat and go away for 6-10 weeks at a time up and down the coast. You can drop your anchor pretty much anywhere and I suppose this is the waterborne equivalent of caravanning. We're up for some variety and want to venture inland!! Anyway, I'm getting off track I think...

My first question is related to caravans and freedom camping in NZ. Are you limited by the length and size of a car and caravan in terms of where you can camp compared to a motorhome? Will we find that in designated areas there's just no room for us to fit in? Is a caravan a common way of touring like this? Whenever I see a pic of freedom camping sites, there's always a heap of motorhomes and not so many caravans...

Secondly, the car we own is a front wheel drive Toyota Estima. 2.4L petrol engine. Do you guys think this would be a suitable vehicle to tow with? Would the realities of freedom camping find that we can't access a lot of areas due to lack of grip? Or would we risk the guts falling out of the car due to it being too stressed out? The kind of caravan we're looking at is the likes of your 2006 Baileys or swift etc. 1400-1500kg caravan...

Thanks very much in advance and any tips or thoughts would be appreciated.

Kevin
 #140571  by mattn
 Tue May 15, 2018 3:41 pm
Lots of questions here, I'll tackle them briefly and elicit more questions. Background from me is I grew up with family caravaning, now have a family - 2 boys, owned caravan for 10 years since youngest was 3 months. Have toured the SI extensively.

While motorhomes are more common than caravans, nothing precludes freedom camping in a caravans (which are getting more and more popular) Length of the rig can be a restriction, a few FC parks and low cost sites are not suitable being too tight to maneuver or parking paces too small, but over all its not something to worry about.

The Estima would not be my choice of 'tug' (common term for tow car) for extensive touring. My first tug was a 2.4 Misti Grandis AWD, overall a similar car to the Estima, on paper it should have been a good tug for the 1100kg van we had. Its only redeeming feature for towing was AWD. The Estima will probably do the job better than the Grandis - but it will be a pinch. It will take a hiding pulling the caravan. The 2.4 motor will be struggling not only up hills but into any kind of head wind and running at much higher outputs than petrol engines are designed to sustain. FWD is less than ideal. UK vans have a light tow ball load requirement, but it will still affect traction on gravel roads and wet grass. You will need to be very careful when pulling into sites if you don;t want to get stuck (Hint - always park uphill from the exit). Consider the weight - with 4 children and gear for the family and a caravan in tow, the Estima will probably be exceeding its GCM.

From this, you have probably guessed my position is you should budget to get a bigger tug. If that is not an option, it will do if you accept its limitations and plan around them. The fact its a Toyota is a big plus.
 #140575  by Johnlh
 Tue May 15, 2018 4:36 pm
Hello, Long time caravanner. Current van is a 2013 swift bought new of factory dealer to replace our first English van an Avondale which we owned for 9 yrs. Both vans had extensive use the swift more so now as we are retired. Last year 99 nights away. Bailey or Swift frankly both are excellent vans and are the largest selling vans in the UK. Reliability and issues with them or any van is subject to how well they have been looked after. We love DOC and freedom camping South Island and a very large chunk of the North Island and have never had an issue with space and or maneuverability. With such camps we have found it best to arrive mid afternoon if possible. After 5 - 6 pm things are a lot busier at some sites.

Tow vehicle. I do not have enough knowledge of your vehicle. However I tow with a CX5 Mazda Diesel and prior to that a Nissan Navara 2WD ute 2.5 Ltr. Both excellent but it all comes down to load you carry and pull, tyres I use a all terrain tyre mainly due to rough ground conditions we often encounter by choice.

Hope this helps and happy to comment further if required.
Cheers .
 #140628  by townfox
 Wed May 16, 2018 8:24 pm
Hi there, thanks very much for your helpful comments guys. Gives me some insight. Yes I think I may be pushing it a bit with the estima 2.4L, but maybe worth pushing it. If it blows up its not worth that much and maybe then I have to buy the right thing. Other than that, get in holiday mode and enjoy the convenience of first gear up the hills!

Another query for you. With electrical and gas certs being every 4 years. Is it most likely that nothing needs doing to either and it's just another sticker stuck on, or is there actually a fair bit that deteriorates and may need replacing between inspections? Just wondering with it in mind for e.g., purchase of a caravan that has only one year left before rechecking these, if I may expect potential problems there.

Cheers
 #140637  by Derb
 Thu May 17, 2018 8:46 am
If you are serious about a purchase, ask for a new Electrical and Gas Cert and/or CSC check that being the condition upon which you will complete the purchase. You could agree to possibly pay half of the costs? Just a thought.
 #140682  by Zukiwi
 Thu May 17, 2018 9:55 pm
Agree with Derb. But if all is in order, with well-specced installations it's unlikely that much will change between inspections. In nearly 10 years we have had no remedials for either cert on our converted bus.

Cheers
John
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