Kiwi-manufactured recreational vehicles were once the norm. But with the years of regulation followed by deregulation, together with the certainty (and uncertainty) of taxes, all but a small handful of local builders have fallen by the wayside.
One of those that has stood the test of time is Auckland Coach Builders (ACM) which, in recent years, has formed an exclusive build relationship with Kiwi Autohomes Ltd to supply the ACM Platinum range.
The prototypes for the latest in this range caused quite a stir among importers and manufacturers at the recent Classic Events Motorhome Show at Mystery Creek. Along with other industry professionals I took a close look at the Aoraki, with its FinScan digital operations panel – which was just one of the reasons for all the hoo-ha.
Thought to be one of the first, if not the first of its kind in New Zealand, the FinScan is the crème de la crème of operations panels. It is – at a glance – easy to operate even by those (like myself) who may be a few kumara short of a hangi in the technical department. I liked it very much.
But the FinScan, though it was causing a sensation, was but a scratch on the surface of the high specifications this vehicle has to offer. In a nutshell, although the display vehicle was the builder’s own, anyone who can afford to can order identical, or bespoke, fitments just like those. Fancy Corian benchtops, luxury German imported chrome handles, a separate full-sized shower, an inner-sprung mattress? You can even build a ladder to the stars. Just order to your own specifications.
Now you may think I am joking when I say build a ladder to the stars. I actually meant staircase to the stars. It’s just another one of the standout features of the Aoraki that it has a really solid set of stairs – as opposed to the usual ladder – to the luton. I am sure that this will be appreciated by young, old, and slightly tipsy alike.
Another thing that is a standout is the rear king-sized bed that is so ‘gigantuous’ that it can be enjoyed either as two singles, or pull out the slats to create an uber-double (more than two metres square) that can be used either east-west or north-south. It’s that big. The second bed – a queen this time – is in the aforementioned luton with the stairs.
To the left of the habitation door is the amenities’ block. I jest, of course, but I am emphasising the super-sizing this vehicle offers. I mentioned earlier the full-sized shower. I think, for me at least, this is the first time I have seen a full-sized shower bay with a proper glass screen in a motorhome.
Next door, opposite the stairs, is the toilet with handbasin. Again this is as generous a space for the privy as you could want in a motorhome. The 20-litre Dometic cassette toilet has a full electric flush and an overfill sensor. Dometic roof vents flood natural daylight from overhead.
The kitchen is certainly the heart of this motorhome, a place to relax and enjoy what you have worked so hard to enjoy. I mentioned the Corian benchtops (these can be in the bathroom too, if desired) and soft-close doors and drawers with top-of-the-range German fitments.
Additional to all of that purpose-built galley storage for cutlery and crockery, there is plenty of overhead storage. None of these compartments has handles. I joked with Kiwi Autohome’s Keran Miller that the money had all been spent on the $300-a-pop handles on the cupboards and drawers. But in reality the lack of handles on overhead cupboards is a very clever trick employed by motorhome builders to create an illusion of space and a feeling of serenity. It works.
Before we venture out of doors, let me mention the pure-wool carpets, all edged and properly finished. Upholstery to your taste is supplied by respected Kiwi outfitters Starfish Upholstery. Dometic doors and appliances, as well as four skylights complete the quality assurance.
Stepping outside, there are numerous standout features. Among these is the awning which comes as standard, but which is not at all standard. It collects rainwater, and in the corner is a nozzle to which you connect your freshwater hose and convey sparkling fresh roof water right to the tank. This is augmented by the guttering along the roof. I think this is very clever.
Large rear-boot lockers, and enormous under-bed storage which can be accessed from outside as well as in, will help hide away all your travelling needs out of sight. The body of the vehicle is professionally built on a steel floor frame integrated with an Iveco Daily chassis.