Meet George & Debbie: Finding the Perfect RV Over Lockdown

By: Jill Malcolm, Photography by: JILL MALCOLM AND SUPPLIED

Jill Malcolm meets a couple who found lockdown the perfect opportunity to research the RV market and find their ultimate RV

George Asplet and and Debbie Oetgen – at home on the road
George Asplet and and Debbie Oetgen – at home on the road

Recently retired couple George Asplet and Debbie Oetgen have a new passion. Although it had not been a long-held dream, their interest in buying a motorhome began with a broken ankle and gradually grew. A few months ago they became the proud owners of a new Roller Team T-Line 740 and now their enthusiasm for RV travel is boundless. It is the best thing they have ever done.

Did you have RV experience before you bought the motorhome?

Not much apart from exploring Europe in a Kombi years ago; and when our children were growing up we had holidays in a stationary caravan parked at the beach but we didn’t tour in it. We have also had boating experience and have done quite a lot of tenting.

Why did you decide to purchase a motorhome?

Looking back, George and I had always had this unspoken idea that it was something we would do one day. But it was always in the future. And then I broke my ankle. As part of my rehabilitation, I was having regular physio treatment. They had a pile of magazines in the waiting room among which were copies of Motorhomes Caravans and Destinations. As I read through them, I first became intrigued and then captivated and my physio told me to take some magazines home. One night I was quietly reading one of them in bed and spotted an advertisement for the Covi Motorhome Caravan show. I put it to George that we should go. We did and were overwhelmed with what we saw. By now we knew we had to have one.

How did you go about more research?

Just after the show came lockdown, which was a wonderful opportunity for us to sit at home and research online. We worked out the things we had to have, and the day lockdown ended we jumped in the car and started visiting dealers. By that time we had criteria to work with and that narrowed the search down dramatically. It quickly came down to two models of di erent brands.

What did you end up with?

We have a Roller Team T-Line 740, which has a low profile. It’s a four-berth and has a fixed island-bed at the rear and a dropdown bed at the front, which makes for a versatile layout. The base vehicle is Fiat Ducato with a turbo-diesel engine and a fully automatic nine-speed gearbox. It is easy for both of us to drive.

George embracing the simple pleasures of life on the road
George embracing the simple pleasures of life on the road

What were the deal-making features of your decision?

We had to have an island bed that was easily accessible and with enough headspace to be able to read and sit up to have a cup of tea. We wanted a four-berth so that we could comfortably take our grandchildren or others away with us. A separate toilet and shower were also important. We looked for a vehicle with a large garage accessible from either side. We also had to have a left-hand habitation door because we intend to take the motorhome to Australia for an extended period when things settle down around Covid-19. In Australia a left-hand home door is mandatory. In the base vehicle, we were definite about having a fully automatic gearbox.

What else do you like about the 740?

It comes with other great features such as a decent-sized lounge/dining area upfront, a mid-area kitchen and a split bathroom, which really isn’t split but more of a walkthrough with a wall partition at the end of the rear island bed that separates the bedroom area from the rest of the motorhome. The layout makes it quite private. There is a full fridge, a pullout pantry and pull-out utensil storage cupboard, which means they are easily accessible. The kitchen space might look a bit tight but it’s perfectly adequate for us. We are not gourmet cooks and are happy to just throw something together.

Did you add anything or have adjustments made?

We ordered a smart TV for the bedroom so that we now have two. We added one more solar panel and bought a 1000-watt inverter and an extra deep-cell battery so that we can charge our e-bikes and use the printer. We have never run out of power when we are off-grid.

The couple have parked at some wonderful places.jpg
The couple have parked at some wonderful places

How was the buying process and the handover?

Once we found the right dealer, things went very smoothly. We bought the motorhome from European Motorhomes, a dealership on Auckland’s North Shore. Part owner of the business Glenn Hooper was knowledgeable, helpful and didn’t push us into buying. We had, and still have, complete confidence in that company. If we have queries or something needs fixing Glenn is onto it immediately.

Have you experienced any issues with the vehicle?

The emission sensor wasn’t working properly but was rapidly fixed. The only other adjustment was to the transmission which developed a small fault and was also quickly sorted. Overall we are extremely satisfied. Everything happens for a reason. We are fortunate that we ended up with the Roller Team instead of the motorhome we’d first chosen.

What would you tell others who are thinking of buying?

There are obvious things such as doing a thorough research and listing the things you must have and what you prefer. The best advice we can give is to do it as soon as possible. Motorhoming is magic.

Where are the two best places you have parked so far?

The free parking at Whakaipo Bay on Lake Taupo was one favourite. Another is Little Waipa on the Waikato River, which is very scenic and has ready access to the bike trails.

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