Jan and Des Adams had just returned from one of their overseas trips when I met them at their Red Beach home. Since their retirement, the couple has become more frequent travellers and, with the purchase of their first motorhome, are set to embark on a new chapter of adventures.
Tell us about your camping and RV experience so far?
We have always been camping but mostly in a tent. On boating trips, we would sometimes take camping gear and seek out remote locations. But the emphasis of our leisure time was more about boating than camping. A few years ago, we hired a motorhome and drove around Australia with another couple.
Why did you decide to buy a motorhome?
We decided while we were on the Aussie trip that a motorhome suited us better than a caravan. Travelling in a motorhome has some similarities to sailing in a boat except that it’s on land. We like going to isolated places and touring in a motorhome is better for both reasons.
Another aspect was the realisation that we are getting older, and there will come a time when we will need to forgo the boating side of things. With a motorhome, we can still have a similar travel style.
How did you research and work out what you wanted?
We first went along to the Auckland motorhome and caravan show, where we were able to make a shortlist. Then we followed up by going to each company that retailed the ones we’d marked for attention. We honed the list until it contained three vehicles and then wrote a comprehensive table that listed the pros and cons of each one.
What did you finally decide on?
We bought a Rapido A-Class 8094dF with drop-down bed and a large lounge in the back. Its overall length is 7490mm on a Fiat AL-KO chassis with an extra-wide rear track. We were pleased to be able to personalise the interior colour scheme and some of the furnishing detail during its manufacture in France.
What were the deciding features of your final choice?
Firstly a permanently made-up, drop-down bed that was queen-size. When raised, it had to have enough height to give Des sufficient headroom because he is tall. We wanted a large rear lounge as Jan does cross-stitch and quilting and needed an area to pursue these hobbies while we were on the road.
Large windows in the lounge were also non-negotiable as we wanted good viewing and plenty of daylight in that area. This feature apparently eliminated 70 per cent of the market. Our range of choice was beginning to narrow.
What were some of the other factors that helped you decide?
We liked the Rapido’s boat-like finish and superior craftsmanship. The effective insulation suited us. We do most of our motorhome touring in winter as summers are still taken up with boating. The Rapido also has an excellent LPG central-heating system.
The lighting throughout is amazing. The kitchen is small like many European built motorhomes, but the adjacent dining table serves as extra bench space. We decided we could live with that compromise.
At first, we thought the food-storage space was not sufficient until we realised that, unlike a boat, it wasn’t as necessary on land as supplies could easily be replenished. The garage storage is not huge but, again, that suited us because we don’t carry much paraphernalia.
What were the biggest challenges?
Because of the table we’d made up of the pros and cons of the final three contenders, the actual decision wasn’t much of challenge. It just became obvious. The choice was also easier because we both agreed on the compromises. Having to wait six months for the Rapido’s delivery was a bit of an emotional challenge.
But the biggest one has been getting to understand all the motorhome’s functions. Twelve months later, we are still learning. Things keep popping up that we don’t know about. In the depths of the South Island, for instance, on a freezing night, the heating system refused to work.
Of course, we blamed the system but it was an operator error. We didn’t know that if the LPG ran too low, the system wouldn’t work. Now we always make sure we have one full LPG bottle. We’ve also learnt not to use the swap bottle for the LPG but rather have them filled as that is the only way you can be sure you are getting the right mix.
Who did you buy it from, and how did you find the process of buying and the handover? We bought the Rapido from RnRV in Silverdale, north of Auckland. Paul and Rochelle Cook were great to deal with. They did not push us at all, and they understood what we were aiming for.
The location in Silverdale was a bonus because it is not far from where we live. The handover was comprehensive and took about three hours. We forgot a lot of it and, as we learn the ropes, the RnRV team has been patient and prompt in responding to our queries.
Would you do anything differently?
No. We are happy with the way we undertook the process. It was the same one that we’ve always used for buying boats and for businesses decisions. The evaluation-table method has always worked for us.
Is there anything about your new RV you’d change or that you added?
You never get exactly what you want. We would have liked an even bigger window across the back of the van. We bought an espresso coffee machine and then realised we didn’t have the right-sized invertor. We’ll use it when we are plugged into the grid.
What advice would you offer others?
Do your homework thoroughly and use the pros and cons table idea. It gives a good overall picture, and the decision becomes clearer. You can feel confident then that you’ve made the right choice.
What travel plans do you have?
Early next year, we are hiring a motorhome in America and travelling to all the national parks for three weeks. In the New Zealand winter, we intend to travel in the Rapido around the lower North Island.