Meeting Rob & Ann and their Jayco Silverline

By: Jill Malcolm, Photography by: Jill Malcolm

In this monthly column, Jill Malcolm interviews the owners of RVs to learn how they made their decisions

For the past 34 years, Rob and Ann Wait have taken their annual family camping holiday at Motutara Farm Park, Whananāki. This year was no different except that the newly retired couple have abandoned toughing it out under canvas and moved into a top-of-the-line caravan. Anne shares a few insights into their buying decision. 

Long time campers Ann and Rob Wait have found a new level of comfort

What was your experience of RV life? 

A few years ago we relocated a Just Go rental motorhome from Pisa in Italy to London. Then, two years ago, we rented a caravan in the South Island for six weeks. Apart from that, we have always camped in a tent, which we loved. But the time had come to introduce a bit more comfort into our annual holiday.

How did you go about the research?

It was the desire for additional comfort that led us to think about buying an RV, and we began researching. We talked to a lot of people who already owned an RV and asked them how they made their decisions, and we spent a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons between caravans and motorhomes.

Over two years, we looked at a significant number of both – on the internet, in dealer yards and at various shows, including the massive Queensland Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow in Brisbane.

Why did you settle on a caravan?

We realised that we liked the extra space a caravan offered over a motorhome. The de-coupling and setting-up processes a caravan requires did not seem like an issue for us because we’re used to towing.

We have a large boat that we pull with a Toyota Hilux, and so we were halfway there. The downside is that I don’t feel confident driving with a large caravan in tow so Rob will have to do it all.

What was the biggest challenge?

It was choosing between the two types of RV. Another thing that pointed us towards caravans was that we will not just be using it for the family holiday but also to discover other parts of New Zealand. And the way we like to travel is to settle in one place and explore from there.

What model did you finally choose?

Our final decision was a 2018 Australian-built, Jayco Silverline 21.65-3. It is a four-berth with dual axles and independent suspension, just over 8m (8040cm) in length and with a bedroom slide-out and plenty of living space and storage. 

What were the deciding features?

The lounge area is particularly roomy

The settee in the lounge area, which can double as a bed, is roomy and comfortable and allows us to stretch out. It is covered with black leather and can be converted to a double bed. The lounge table is a useful size. 

One of the biggest deal-makers was the queen-size, east-west bed with a large window at the foot end that allows us to get a good view of our surroundings when we are sitting up in bed with a cup of tea. It is also a walk-around bed, which means it’s easy to make.

The bedroom area is separated from the lounge and kitchen by a curtain. The bedroom set-up was appealing. We like the large kitchen bench, the full-sized fridge and the large sink that will accommodate bigger pots and the frying pan.

Most of the kitchen storage is in drawers, which seem more manageable than cupboards. The bathroom/shower area is spacious and very workable. The aesthetic was also important: the tone-on-tone colours and the sophisticated finish. From my point of view, the decision was not just about function but also about the colours, textures and fabrics. 

How did you find the process of buying? 

It was untroubled. We had a diesel heat pump installed because, coming from Australia, there wasn’t one. We were a bit dismayed to read in this magazine that there was a product recall on the V2 electric-brake-controller system.

We had it checked and, although our Silverline was built in the recall timeframe for the faulty batch, the serial number put us in the clear. The satellite dish had to be replaced, and this was carried out by RSE. 

Did you end up buying the RV you imagined?

No. We intended to buy something smaller and cheaper but, apart from the length, the Jayco Silverline ticked all the boxes, and so we decided to stretch things a bit further.

Would you do anything differently?

No, because we had researched thoroughly two years and were confident when it came to buying that we not only had what we wanted but a lot more.  

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

Well, the laminated flooring is excellent; it looks good and is easy to clean. But there is no underfloor insulation, so it’s cold in cooler weather. We’ll use floor mats or carpets but we would have preferred an insulated floor.

Although it is hardly a deal-breaker, the basin in the bathroom is an upstanding bowl, which looks great, but the taps are outside the bowl rim so that water drips onto the bench when we turn a tap off with wet hands.

Another small point is that although the lounge table is a useful size and is on a slider, it might be better to have a folding table, which would make access to the seating even easier.

What advice would you offer?

Look at as many products as you can, listen to advice but then make sure your choice is what suits your situation. 

What travel plans do you have?

We will continue to come to Whananāki every summer-holiday period. Now that we have retired, we also intend to set up the caravan in various places around New Zealand and then explore in the Hilux. 

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