We are all enjoying the complete change of pace, going from a small village and 84km round trip to Masterton Pensive for groceries, to a 100km round trip for lunch at the Viaduct in Auckland City.
We did once live in Auckland, but in 2005 purchased the lease on a Martinborough vineyard café and headed off to start a new life together. During that time in Auckland we enjoyed every America’s Cup event that came to town, heading over from Devonport to the waterfront to watch the boys head out in the boats, and back again at the end of the day to see them come in. We watched Princess Wharf being developed, then the restaurants and development of the Viaduct area, and enjoyed the buzz of life, food and energy that came with those big events.
For some time after the America’s Cup was lost from downunder it was touch and go for many of those restaurants, but Aucklander’s were ready for the grown-up area; a long slow winter was followed by a long summer, and the locals embraced the area for itself and have now become a mainstay of trade. With new hotels and apartments going up, tourist numbers have boomed, and they too enjoy the beautiful waterside environment with luxury boats sitting alongside fishing trawlers, the world-class food and wine, and spaces to kick back and enjoy – such a lovely area.
Wynyard Wharf opened up a few years ago, so over 20 years since the Viaduct area was first developed with the current retail, office and restaurants. We often went down to the point by the big tankers and enjoyed the views across the harbour to the bridge and the North Shore, and our old photographs record the decline of the big tanks as they were slowly being removed to get the area ready for the planned redevelopment. Today, a children’s playground area, heritage trams and a classic Fish Market are just some of the attractions of the area.
Exciting stuff down in the city; it is well worth a wander around and a nice lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants. Lots of animal lovers walking dogs in the area – Caspar has been welcomed at every restaurant with outside seating. There is great people watching to be done, and the sea, ships and skyline are a feast for the eyes.
March was a busy month for RVers – in Auckland the Covi Outdoor and Motorhome SuperShow was held over three days. It is always great to see all the RV industry under one roof – or area in this case. So much easier to catch up and check out the new products coming through. This year’s show was quieter than normal.
The Christchurch March 15 event happened on the Friday afternoon so perhaps this affected numbers, but even so, the parking at this venue is getting more and more challenging every year. The KOOZA, Cirque du Soleil’s latest production, was set up in the back carpark so it was unavailable. Our staff had to park down near Countdown at Greenlane, so I can only imagine how it was for visitors to the event. On the upside, the Rock and I had plenty of time to catch up with everyone, enjoyed chatting with readers and enjoying a few more coffee sit-downs than usual.
Looking back over photographs of previous shows, it was interesting to note that many of the smaller RV businesses have grown from being basically one-man bands, with just one or two people, to being more significant players in the industry seven years later.
Zion Motorhomes is one example of phenomenal growth in the industry. When we first met Jonas Ng it was in a shopping centre food hall in East Auckland. He had no models on the ground, but the Dethleffs motorhome brochures were impressive. Three years later he had progressed to having stock for customers to view on a small secure area in Howick, and the German-built Dethleffs brand was being welcomed into the New Zealand market. Now in 2019 the company has changed name from Acacia Motorhomes to Zion Motorhomes.
They have moved to a significant site in Pokeno, and have expanded their range to include the impressive brands of Frankia, Morello, Niesmann+Bischoff as well as the Dethleffs motorhomes. The Dethleffs brand offers new luxury models as well as affordable used models, the latter first being operated as rental vehicles by the recently established McRent motorhome rental company for up to one year (or 20,000km), before being refurbished and sold through UCC Motorhomes in Christchurch.
Another company that has continued to cement their position in the market – with Elddis motorhome and caravan models – is the RV Leisure Centre in Nelson of all places. They are the official distributors for the UK quality-built Elddis models of caravans and motorhomes as well as the quality UK Buccaneer caravan range. This business was established in 1978 and has a long history with RV owners across NZ. They also sell the thl range of ex-rental products, and Hamilton-built Southern Star caravans. Their increase in RV sales, upgrades, repairs and maintenance of RVs has seen the team increase across the board, and this year they can boast a sales team equal to any of the big boys at the show.
Their site was active all the time, with a lot of attention on the two-berth Autoquest CV20 in the middle of the stand. Priced at $121,100 as a base price, this show vehicle was very appealing at the show-only special price of $123,995 including the awning, reversing camera, bike rack, 100W solar, 19˝ TV/DVD and auto sat dish to go with it. We took a quick look and liked the storage options within; good little kitchen with gas Triplex three-burner hob and oven/grill, and nice little combined bathroom as well.
The fridge is a Thetford T1090 compressor fridge, placed in a handy position behind the driver’s cab seat. Ninety litres fresh, and 45L grey water; Whale 4kW dual-fuel heating and 8L Whale water heater – this model has it all. The cab seats swivel, so you could easily have a moveable table set up when parked up and leave the back area made up as a bed if you wanted to. A sweet little compact vehicle built for two. Easy driving and parking at 5999mm long, 2050mm wide and 2670mm high with aerial, interior headroom is 1889mm.
Next door you couldn’t miss the DeLuxe Group with their large stand, another business that has grown its brands and size significantly in the last seven years. They have the distributorship for the La Voyageur and Pilote luxury-built motorhomes from Europe, the Australian Winnebago-brand motorhomes, as well as being local area agents for Bailey New Zealand of the UK Bailey’s motorhome and caravan ranges.
The Smith family of brothers Greg and Gary, along with their children Laura and Brent, are the backbone of the business, with support from a growing team in the service centre and on the sales yard. This family has thrown themselves and their reputation behind the RV side of their business, which sits beside a significant property development company that is well established in the Marlborough area.
We had our stand in the Travel and Destinations area this year, so caught up with the Covi Insurance teams and got to have a good look at the restored NZMCA No 1 motorhome – what a beauty she is – and we’ll review it separately in an upcoming issue if we can.
Camping gear and accessories are always popular at these shows; some visitors got really carried away trying out beds, crawling into tents and lounging in the chairs on the Oztent stand. Electric bikes are so popular these days, there were quite a few options to try out. The Rock got a bit carried away, buying a little gas-bottle heater for use when sitting outside in the evenings – instant heat, so can’t argue with that.
There are a couple more RV shows scheduled this year: the NZ Motorhome, Caravan and Leisure show in Christchurch July 5–7, then the larger NZ Motorhome, Caravan and Leisure show in Hamilton on September 20–22, so plenty of opportunities to check out the local RV industry – remembering that RV means recreational vehicle, so includes motorhomes, caravans, campers, fifth-wheelers, buses and home-built beauties. Until you have a good look, you never know what will ring your bell or tick all your boxes.
Beach Hop 2019 was a biggie as always. If you have never attended this event it is one out of the box; loud thumping V8 engines, stunning paint jobs on the gorgeous restored cars, and then there are the classic caravans that line up in the school grounds. Later in these pages we have a look at two of the caravans on display this year, and will report on others over the rest of the year. They are so inspiring when you see the effort people go to on the originality and retro side, as well as the creativity of those who transform the interior of their little caravan into something quite different – there were a few of these. We highlight the winner, Mike Wells, well known to regular readers from previous Beach Hop reports. The cover photo this issue is of one of Mike’s food-caravan creations. You will easily recognise his style when you come across these around the country.
Time to get this issue to the printers, and then this weekend we will head to – you guessed it –the Viaduct for a walk and some lunch, lol. Actually it’s one wee honey’s third birthday so we are going to Inflatable World. I didn’t know it existed until this morning, so bring on the blow-up slides and bouncy activities, I hope we don’t hurt ourselves while we’re enjoying them, but I know we will enjoy the family time for sure.