It’s tempting to think of the new-to-New Zealand Bivouac camping trailer as billabong meets mountain, river, sea and lake. But there’s an even more compelling Kiwi icon missing from the story. Every time a Bivouac Kakapo is sold, the preservation fund for our endangered flightless parrot – thought to be the largest in the world – receives $150.

And if that doesn’t get you off the couch, I’m pretty sure when you hear about all of the amenities this nifty camper offers for a very modest price, you’ll be racing out the door. I liked this camper so much, I would say (for my money at least) it was the best in show at the recent Classic Events Motorhome Show at Mystery Creek.

This graphic is a reminder that $150 from each purchase supports our endangered kakapo population

You may well be asking what was so impressive. After all, camping trailers are hardly new to this country. My native bias may be showing here (I was born in ‘Strayla’) but I think that the Aussies are leaders in the field, especially when it comes to robust off-road campers that will allow you to really go bush.

Importers and business partners Chris Snelson and Fergus King, met 20 years ago as members of the New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society. It would be fair to say they like robust machinery. Fergus is particularly fond of tinkering with old machinery and restores railway engines and the like. Both are keen off roaders.

When you get to your remote hideaway you will have all the bells and whistles

Fergus previously worked in the Australian outback for three years. The lifestyle of off-roading in a strong, screened, robust vehicle which is high off the ground and self-contained, is one they both know and love. The Bivouac appealed to them because it is designed by Australians for the harsh conditions of the Australian outback. They knew it would be perfect for New Zealanders, too.

“Both Fergus and I are really keen on outdoor pursuits. The biggest appeal of this vehicle is that  it is capable of being taken off-road,” says Chris.

They know the lure of getting away from it all and being able to reach an isolated fishing spot and both believe this vehicle will have broad appeal to hunters and fishers who want to get off the end of the road to their favourite spots, along a beach, or up the river.

“Once at the destination, it’s fast to put up and easily done by one person with absolutely no trouble,” says Fergus.

And when the camper reaches the favourite wilderness retreat, there is no sacrifice of home comforts. The Bivouac Kakapo Camper comprises table seating for six, and two double berths. The awning is standard, with zipped side flaps and so generous (4.2m x 2.4m) it makes an extra lounge area. Additionally, there’s an amenities area off to one side for the ‘ensuite’ shower and toilet.

A glimpse at the dining table with kitchen slide-out

The Bivouac Kakapo Camper can be certified self-contained. And both the fridge and the kitchen can be accessed while travelling. Did I just say kitchen? Yes, indeed. The surprises with this small but perfectly formed camper just keep coming. The stainless-steel kitchen slides out from the side, complete with sink with a water pump for high-pressure water and a three-burner stove with glass top. There’s also a 12V fridge socket.

Water capacity is 120 litres held in a stainless-steel water tank with lockable cap, water gauge and stone guard. The Kakapo also comes with 2 x100Ah batteries and a vehicle battery charging Anderson plug, 12V electrical circuit panel with circuit breakers, and a voltmeter. This is serious stuff. A boy’s own adventure in the making.

A look underneath reveals a robust, ready to 
go off roader Looking across the removable table to the king-size master bedroom

The galvanised steel chassis supports a heavy-duty independent suspension with two coil springs and four shock absorbers. The brakes are 12 -inch with 16 -inch alloy wheels and Cooper 265/70R All Terrain tyres.

As if all of the above was not rugged enough, the vehicle has, as standard, a slide-out toolbox, stone guard and stainless-steel luggage rack, a 500kg rated jockey wheel and double safety chains. Four stabiliser legs will steady you after taking all of that in and you will also enjoy the able assistance of four gas struts.

Get your gear on and getaway

Keeping life’s inevitable storms at bay is 15oz heavy-duty canvas and a tropical roof. During the show the entire rig was tested by Mother Nature herself when a potentially devastating and dastardly gale blew through the arena. Chris and Fergus admit that even they were holding their collective breath, but the Kakapo flew through unscathed.

The tare weight for this mighty little roadster is just 1400kg with a maximum weight of 1900kg. So there’s plenty of discretionary room and storage space for all the toys a person could want to convey to their chosen hideaway and live lightly on the earth, but in perfect luxury, while there.

Oh, and as you enjoy a glass of your favourite tipple, you can relax in the knowledge that your purchase is helping out our feathered friends.

I wasn’t the only person keen to take a closer look at the Bivouac Campers Kakapo

Specifications Premium package

  • Waeco Chest Fridge
  • 240V charger
  • Off-road two-way towing hitch
  • Porta-Loo
  • Joolca hot water shower system
  • Spare mag wheel
  • Portable 100W solar panel
  • Asking price: $19,800