It’s not a brand that we are familiar with in this part of the world, but all of that is soon to change with the planned introduction of the Niesmann+Bischoff range to New Zealand.
This all came about when a Kiwi couple – Travellers by name and nature – saw the vehicle of their dreams at the world’s largest motorhome fair – the annual Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Dianne and Gary Traveller are not new to motorhoming. They have previously owned two Dethleffs motorhomes – a 7.5-metre Esprit, followed by an upgraded Globetrotter XLi – but when they saw the Niesmann+Bischoff they decided on another upgrade. They also decided that this time they should have it all and embarked on ordering the vehicle of their dreams. After a health scare, Gary is fairly philosophical about making the most of his time on earth and, as a result, each year the retired couple try to spend at least three months travelling in the UK – where they have another motorhome. They also aim to spend at least three months on the road in New Zealand. At the time of our catch-up, the Taupo-based couple was heading to the South Island for an extended sojourn.
Their new motorhome is an imposing 8.8 metres long, 2.35 metres wide and 3.50 metres high. At 5300kg it can still be driven on a car licence, and has a 1000kg payload. The couple had a towbar installed, but in order to remain within legal limits for their licence, they think it is unlikely they would ever tow anything larger than a small trailer. With all of the storage options they have within the vehicle, there is little likelihood that this would be necessary. There are a number of external drawers which make access to storage easy, and of course there is a generous boot with hooks, rails and tie downs to ensure cargo (like the couple’s bikes) stays put.
Entering the vehicle through the habitation door is made easy with a double tier retractable step. It is not only functional, but also attractive when deployed and also when folded. The interior wows – there is a sense of luxury and space. The Travellers requested the upgrade to leather seating and chose a handsome stitched black leather finish for their sofas and matching captain’s chairs. The Corian benchtops add another layer of luxury. Strip lighting (LED, of course) adds an enchanting ambience and adds to the elegance of the interior design.
The galley has a pull-out pantry to die for, an L-shaped bench with dual sink, gas stove and 190-litre Dometic Tech Tower. But as Gary points out the cooking options, he is quick to say that if we were to take a closer look we’d see the contents are still in the original plastic covers, because the couple prefer to cook outside on their barbecue. However, at breakfast time they love to use their coffee maker and toaster, which they can do simultaneously thanks to an abundance of power.
Not only do the Niesmann+Bischoffs come with the new low-profile stick-on solar panels that generate 400 watts, they have a 2000-watt inverter and three 100Ah batteries. On the day we met, the couple were off-grid and still able to draw a hefty power load to use their appliances. Dining is at a swivel table which can expand when there are more guests. The couple opted for an extra roof vent above the kitchen to enhance the natural light inside the vehicle. And there is also a fantastic Xpelair.
In the bathroom, the couple enjoys the luxury of a full-sized shower (with wooden tray adding a jaunty nautical feel) and a deliberate upgrade to a ceramic toilet. Onboard there are tanks for 200 litres of fresh and 150 litres of grey water. The couple have a permanently made-up island bed, although they recently had their grandson along for the ride and he loved the front dinette drop-down bed which glides into place on struts. In the master bedroom, twin wardrobes, overhead lockers, under-bed storage and storage in the thoughtfully designed stairs each side of the bed, add to the plethora of solutions throughout. These include a shoe locker craftily hidden under the floor. Clever!
This mention of hidden things segues nicely to two other of the many extras that set this vehicle apart. It is easy to be blown away by the reversing camera oh-so-cleverly concealed under the rear chrome badge. And then there is the air suspension the Travellers insisted on, because their research had told them it was in every way superior, and it certainly has not disappointed. Gary says the drive is really smooth, and he loves the automatic leveller and the way the vehicle can be tilted on one side when at dump stations.
The vehicle is built on a 2.6L Fiat base with an AL-KO chassis, and with a TAG axle. Gary says he had considered a larger engine, but has been very impressed with the vehicle’s on-road performance – although so far they have enjoyed only a few trips away. Among the numerous extras they mention are the electric awning, hot and cold water external shower, barbecue, and standard GPS. In winter, they are confident the Alde gas heating system will keep them toasty warm, if required.
For Gary and Dianne, the process of ordering the high-spec vehicle and having it delivered was made easy through the New Zealand dealer from whom they had bought their two previous vehicles. The vehicle was ordered in January and delivered to the company’s UK dealership in June, perfect as it happened as the couple were in the UK so they checked it over before it was shipped back to New Zealand. When it arrived Jonas Ng organised the NZ Certification, compliance and installing extra’s like the TV, so it was ready for them to pick up and drive away without having to do anything themselves. As we saw in Martinborough they are continuing to live and love the dream, travelling our roads in real style, and with those air shocks, comfort that’s for sure.