Purchasing a 2011 Kea Dreamtime five-berth

By: Jill Malcolm

In this monthly column, NZMCD interviews the owners of a 2011 Kea Dreamtime five-berth from RV Super Centre

Celia Long and Trudy Hurst run a small home repair business and live in Onehunga, Auckland. They’ve always enjoyed travelling and camping but as they aged, travelling in a motorhome began to sound like a better idea.

This year they took the plunge and bought a 2011 Kea Dreamtime five-berth from RV Super Centre in Albany. They understood it would be an entry-level vehicle and that if they enjoyed the travel style, they’d upgrade at some point. Jill caught up with Celia to find out more about their decision-making process.

Celia and Charlotte at handover time at the RV Super Centre

Tell us about your camping/RV experience so far.

We’ve had a camper-trailer and have done a lot of tenting and camping but, as much as we love it, we decided we needed something that was not only more comfortable but also self-contained so we could get off the beaten track a bit more.

Why did you decide to buy a motorhome?

We were spurred into action because my daughter Kathryn was visiting from overseas and we wanted to take her around New Zealand in comfort. Another reason was Trudy’s mother, Charlotte, who is 80, stays with us for six months each year and we thought she might enjoy coming with us on some of our regular trips away.

Celia Long and Trudy’s mother Charlotte taking it easy among the palm trees

Putting her up in a tent was out of the question. Motorhoming is a first for us. It is a big step up in luxury and has been quite a learning curve in terms of what is involved, such as how the solar power and batteries work, the input and output of water and managing the waste disposal.

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

We mainly researched by quizzing friends and acquaintances who had already bought motorhomes and finding out what they liked and didn’t like. We had lots of positive feedback. In fact everyone who had purchased a motorhome was really happy they had done so.

Celia points out a detail to Charlotte Hurst

What was the biggest challenge in choosing the right RV?

Getting the right configuration but still keeping within our budget was probably the most challenging aspect.

What were the deciding features of your RV?

I think price was the biggest factor – getting the most we could within the budget. The sleeping arrangements needed to fit our different fitness levels. Because Trudy’s working life and mine have been quite physical, we have a legacy of bad knees, so we needed to have beds at the right height that were not difficult to get in and out of.
We also checked that we could easily manipulate anything that had to be pushed, pulled or lifted.

The Dreamtime home in the backyard with two very pleased looking owners

Currently, Trudy and her mum sleep down on the two large divans in the rear and there is no need to pull out anything or remove the table, and I sleep in the Luton.

We were also mindful of the height of the steps leading into the van. In some motorhomes we found the second step was too high for comfort.
One other big consideration for us was having a large rear window – in fact lots of large windows! Being able to see out makes a big difference when we park somewhere with great views. The kitchen area – with a four-burner gas hob, grill, extractor fan and microwave – is very workable.

How did you find the process of buying and the handover?

We visited the RV Super Centre twice and were fortunate that we found a salesperson called Annette Nielsen-Geese. She took a great deal of time to show us every possible alternative. We learned so much that day and it was her input that made the entire experience a positive one. She didn’t push us but just showed us everything we needed to make a decision. The handover was equally positive and, again, a big learning experience. We were shown everything that opened and shut and also how everything worked. All our questions were answered.

Celia’s daughter Kathryn

Did you end up buying the RV you imagined owning?

We really had no preconceived ideas but I think the Dreamtime is a lot bigger than we envisaged we’d end up with. Although we are really happy with our current vehicle, we are open to the thought that there’ll be changes we may want to make down the line.

Would you do anything differently?

No; even though we will probably upgrade at some stage, the Dreamtime is perfect for now. We looked for a perfect 

‘starter’ and that’s what it is. Next time we would get a vehicle with a Warrant of Fitness which needs renewing every 12 months instead of the Dreamtime’s Certificate of Fitness, which needs renewing every six months.

An important feature for the choice of motorhome was the Dreamtime’s large windows

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

More dining and seating space would be an advantage. We would probably go for more space. Although the Dreamtime’s a five-berth and perfectly fine for two adults and two children, Trudy and I are not small people and with Trudy’s mother as well, the space could be bigger. Having said that, the fact that the Dreamtime is an older model makes it seem more spacious than some of the newer styles we looked at which, with all their bells and whistles and pull-down beds, sometimes seemed to us a bit claustrophobic.

What advice would you offer others?

Think about how much space you need for the people you’re going to be accommodating and consider their fitness and physical capabilities. Get in and out of lots of different motorhomes and listen carefully to all the tips and advice from other people who have had experience. As you look through a motorhome, envisage yourself doing all the tasks and see if you are going to manage them without too much trouble.

Celia with her daughter Kathryn

What travel plans do you have?

Every week we plan something different and think about how we can get away for a few days between work. The next big trip will be to the south of the South Island. Our two best trips so far have been Ohope and Whakatane and Trounson Kauri Park north of Dargaville, where we went for night walks through the kauri forest.

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