It’s been a long hot summer this year so far, and our friends Marie and Neil are over from north Queensland again for a few months, travelling in their fifth-wheeler. Marie has contributed an occasional story to the magazine over the years detailing their travels here.

Reese hitch towing system on the back of the tow vehicle

They love their fifth-wheeler – it ticked all the boxes for them when they were hunting for an RV to travel around New Zealand every summer. They planned to live in it for months at a time so they did a lot of research and looked to get the type of RV that would suit them. The fact that they could have a separate bedroom, large bathroom, a dining nook and settee as well as good kitchen space, was part of the decision.

Electrically (12V) operated slide-out; double-seal neoprene and blade sealing system

The other was that they could park up and use their tow vehicle separately. Neil has been a truck driver in Aussie for many years so understands the reduced towing weight of hitching a fifth-wheel unit to balance over the tow vehicle’s back axles, thus moving the centre of gravity closer to the vehicle.

Electrical system: 230V power supply point; residual circuit device; miniature circuit breakers; multiple 230V 3-pin sockets; on-board 12V 90Ah battery – battery charged via tow vehicle; digital display; 22A battery charger; 12V lighting circuit; temperature sensors; gas detector; Teleco Teleplus X2/39VU directional aerial – all centralised in one exterior locker

This increases stability and reduces swaying in the towed vehicle as well as reducing carrying weight by 20 per cent average. So buying a fifth-wheel unit was their choice over a motorhome or a caravan.

The flooring looks and feels like real wood (vinyl) and has underfloor heating. The internal height is 2200mm, giving a feeling of spaciousness you don’t often get in an RV and the slide-out adds 2.7m2 extra floor space

With all that in mind, when I got the call from Keith McIver from Fifth Wheel Tourers Ltd, telling me he had just picked up the latest 2019 Celtic Rambler 8500mm luxury fifth-wheeler unit from the port, I jumped at the chance to meet him at the Pukekohe A&P showgrounds for a viewing before it was delivered to its new owners.

A stylish kitchen setup with 195L AES Dometic fridge, full-sized oven with four-burner gas hob, oven and separate grill, and HPL kitchen worktops

I first wrote about these fifth-wheel units in Issue 66, September 2017 after seeing the Dream Seeker model at the Christchurch show. Based in Wales, the Fifth Wheel Company boasts winning design awards for its models over multiple years, and looking at this latest Celtic Rambler model I can see why – the Rock and I were very impressed.

An impressive 43″ smart TV fitted into the wall with storage below

The company boasts that it has never made the same unit twice, and that’s because prospective owners have so many individual choices that can be made to have it set it up just for them.

Three under-sink drawers are excellent size and depth

In this vehicle the owners elected to have a kitchen running down one side and a second couch at the end, they chose an island bed setup, and the dining/lounge is in the slide-out. They selected the interior colour scheme and furnishing fabrics that suited their tastes as well.

Stepping up from the living area to the bedroom, we have drawers and wardrobe storage on the left and en suite bathroom with separate shower on the right, and with a door closing the room off for privacy

As with other clients who have purchased a fifth-wheeler from Keith, this couple travelled to the UK and went to the factory to see how they were built.

So much storage in this full-height wardrobe, as well as a drawer under the bed and the cupboards behind the bed head

With the wiring being set up for New Zealand appliances and specifications they personally took over flexible solar roof panels they wanted, and got the company to source the electric bike rack they wanted installed so it could be done at the factory build stage.

Entry is via the Hartel door with integrated window and privacy blind, a fitted rubbish bin, and two-point central locking system. All the monitors, controllers, entertainment, fuses, etc. are in one area on the left of the entry door, with all the related hardware in its own exterior locker

From what Keith tells me, once a client sees the factory for themselves, meets the team and sees the quality of workmanship, they can’t wait to put their order in, spec’d to their personal requirements be it single beds, island bed, slide-out bedroom or living space, kitchen placement and all sorts of other options that are available.

The bathroom and kitchen both have nonslip waterproof flooring. The internal height is 2200mm, giving a feeling of spaciousness you don’t often get in an RV and the slide-out adds 2.7m2 extra floor space

Both Bruce and I were very impressed with the quality of this vehicle. On inspection the quality of fixtures, finishes, and fittings displayed throughout the vehicle leap out at you – the company’s claims regarding luxury and bespoke vehicles can genuinely be seen from top to bottom, inside and out.

At the top of the market price-wise, in it’s standard NZ specification these units come in at just over the $190,000 mark. For this you are getting a luxury fitted home that offers all the storage you could ever want or need, luxury finishes and textures in the interior fit-out, under-floor heating that is quite something, and expansive living spaces with the slide-out.

GVM is 3500kg, 500kg payload; total overall length this unit 8500mm, length behind tow vehicle 6500mm, height 3300mm, width 2300mm. Total width with slide-out extended 3300mm

A must-see for those visiting the Covi Motorhome show in March, or contact Keith – who is based in Wellington but travels throughout New Zealand extensively – and see where and when you can view one of these exciting fifth-wheelers.

Tech Spec’s in brief

Dimensions: 8500mm total length – 6500mm length behind tow vehicle, 3300mm height, 2300mm width
Slide-out: 1800mm height, 2500mm width, 1000mm depth
Weight: GVM 3500kg, tare 3000kg, payload 500kg (varies dependent on spec.)
Utilities: Fresh water 231 litres, 150 litres grey, 150-litre black-water tank, two-bottle gas locker, 150W solar panel, 90Ah leisure battery, 195L fridge freezer, four-burner hob with separate grill and oven
Heating: Alde compact combi HE3020 boiler; butane power output 6.4kW, propane power output 5.5kW; gas and/or 230V power source; programmable thermostat; under-floor heating system; 3kW output via radiators