Spending summer in a Swift Conqueror 645

By: Jill Malcolm


In this monthly column, NZMCD interviews the owners of a Swift Conqueror 645 to learn how they made their decision

Lucia Tigri-Brown, her husband Gaz Brown, and their two children – Otto, four, and Romey, two – have spent their first summer holidays in their Swift Conqueror 645. Their enthusiasm for family caravan holidays is catching.

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Tell us about your camping experience so far

We have loved it! We were completely green and underestimated how much we would enjoy it. Now the kids keep asking when we can go again and tell their friends – and anyone else they come across – how cool it is.

For parents with two very young children it was the perfect answer for getting a break from the intense pace of parenting. The kids thrived at motor camps, grew their independence and made new friends.

Why did you decide to buy a caravan?

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Despite the length and weight, the double axle caravan tows quite easily 

The flexibility of having adventures in different places while still having the comforts of home was the biggest motivation.

The cost-effective choice of a caravan over a bach was also a big pull. Baches are expensive and at this stage we’re about giving the kids experiences they won’t forget, while Mum and Dad have a little time out without hurting the wallet! With the caravan, we can go away at the drop of a hat. That’s important for us. We both have our own businesses, and our lives are hectic.

How did you go about researching and working out what you wanted?

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Lucia Tigri-Brown with Otto and Romey.  Holidaying in the caravan is all about family.

We started off searching on Trade Me, then searching online. We were amazed at how many different caravan set-ups there are. But once we knew what we wanted, we had to move quickly as good second-hand caravans are often only on the market for a few days before they sell; although there is always a good range of caravans coming in from the UK or Australia. When we found what we wanted, we didn’t muck around.

What was the biggest challenge in choosing the right caravan?

Our family needs were the priority. In the initial stages we weren’t sure what size fridge would work or if we wanted a separate toilet and shower, or what layout we preferred. Once we had made those decisions, we then had to choose what make and model was the best.

The barrage of choice was a bit overwhelming to start with, but once we figured out what layout we wanted, we just worked from there.

What were the deciding features of your caravan?

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Comfort and quality were high priorities

Configuration, design, and quality for price. We liked having the ability to close off the bedroom. We have a two- year-old and being able to close the bedroom door at night and darken the rest of the caravan was important; so were the two, large single beds.

The Swift has some amazing features, such as the radiator heating, the hot water system and a water pump, which provides good water pressure and hot showers for the whole family.

And then there was the price; although we ended up spending a little more than we intended, we wanted a quality caravan in good condition. We ignored the year of manufacture as that didn’t seem important.

Did you end up buying the caravan you imagined owning?

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Dining out – Gaz, Otto and Romey

By complete surprise, we did. It was important for us to have independence for cooking, showering/toilet and living, and the caravan provides all that. The awning was a real bonus; we wouldn’t go away without it.

Would you do anything differently?

No, for now we love it. Sure, we have to be prepared to tow around seven-metre long van that weighs over 1.5 tonnes, but that was fine once we got used to it. For the cost (around $42k) it’s an amazing way to have something of your own, without the expense of a bach.

Is there anything about your new RV you’d change or improve if possible?

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Gaz Brown on domestic duty

We are currently changing over the grey water drainage system so that we can drain water directly instead of into storage tanks.

We also switched to a constant water supply with a water/ballcock holding tank. This was a game-changer and makes the caravan feel like our little family home away from home.

What advice would you offer others?

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The perfect family holiday set up!

Jump right in – whatever you purchase you’ll love it and quickly become house-proud and attached. You’ll have a sense of Kiwi independence with all the home comforts. Make sure you are happy with towing and don’t mind a bit of DIY.

What is adventure and exciting for some could be daunting and intimidating for others. Don’t let that deter you. Once you are out there, you’ll meet others and pick up tips and tricks. Everyone seems keen to share their own experience.

What travel plans do you have or what will you use the caravan for?

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The awning adds extra space

We want to travel more of the country. In a caravan it’s easy and cost-effective. The difference between the cost of living at home and being away in the caravan is minimal and we often find ourselves extending the length of our trips.

We plan a big ski trip in the winter and loads more adventures in the summer. We’ve tried travelling overseas with our kids and it’s just too tricky. All they really want is adventure, short travel times, a playground, new friends, and shared adventures with us. It’s so much easier doing that in an amazing country like New Zealand.

We never thought we would enjoy holidaying in our own country so much. We have travelled overseas for years and now find our caravanning experiences in New Zealand so much better. We get to see places as a tourist might – and it’s a truly impressive country.

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