Cristall Moorea 530 DB

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


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As soon as he hitched the Cristall Moorea 530 DB to the tow vehicle, Bill Savidan realised this caravan review would be different

Cristall Moorea 530 DB
Cristall Moorea 530 DB

The Alko AKS 2004 tow-hitch was unlike any I had experienced. It had three handles: two red, and one black. The handbrake handle (red, rear right) operates in the way we are familiar with. The centre black handle is lifted to allow the tow-hitch to engage the tow-ball, and when it has, a ‘pop-up’ indicator above the tow-ball shows green, confirming tow-hitch is properly secured. The third Y-shaped handle (red) is also raised to allow the tow-hitch to engage, then, when lowered, it squeezes the tow-ball, effectively making the tow-hitch connection semi-rigid. This reduces ‘caravan sway’, making caravan towing easier and safer.

There is also a ‘safety cord’ attached to the tow-hitch that is connected to the towing vehicle so that should it part company with the caravan, the caravan’s brakes are applied. In Europe these ‘safety cords’ are employed instead of the safety chains that are mandatory here.

Built in the Netherlands for the UK market, the Moorea is designed in Belgium to German standards, and the attention to detail, good quality finish and pragmatic layout reflect its European origins. The single-axle six-metre Moorea has a solid, balanced appearance in its livery of gloss white with low-set grey and blue side stripes. ‘Alufibre’ panelling is used for the sides, back and roof of the Moorea.

Manufactured in the Netherlands, ‘Alufibre’ is aluminium sheet bonded to fibreglass sheet over foam insulation. The major benefit of this panelling is its resistance to denting and hail damage, its smooth ripple-free surface and excellent insulation qualities. The roof panels are 50mm thick, the floor is 45mm and side walls 27mm. All panels are glued watertight. The body is mounted on galvanised Alko Eurolight chassis.

The front panel of the Moorea is stone resistant moulded ABS with a large storage compartment for the LPG cylinder and room for other bulky items. Additional storage under the double bed can be accessed through a large exterior hatch. The entry door is stable door style, very handy for those wishing to keep small children or pets inside, or outside as the case may be. Separate from the door, the entrance has a built-in flyscreen.

Beside the door there are outlets for 12 and 230-volt power and an inlet for satellite TV.

Included with the Moorea is a six-metre long, fully enclosed Pyramid ‘Tuscany’ awning. There are four manoeuvring handles, one on each corner, and the ‘van, which weighs 1213kg empty, proved surprisingly easy to move around. The area of grass where I did the review had a slight slope and Bruce and Peter had no trouble manhandling the six-metre Moorea into position for the photo shoot.

Instead of a built-in water tank, the Moorea comes with a 12-volt water pump and connection hose, which includes a wiring cable for the pump. This hose/wiring cable plugs into a connection point on the side of the ‘van. Turning on any tap in the van activates the pump, providing water on demand. The pump can be dropped into a bucket of water, but for convenience and hygiene reasons, the sealed ‘water porter’ supplied with the Moorea is a better option. This 30-litre ‘water porter’, with its handle attached, looks like a garden roller, and is easily rolled between water tap and ‘van.

The system is popular in the UK because it reduces the towed weight of the ‘van, and ‘water porter’ water, fresh from the tap is much sweeter than water that has ‘wintered over’ in a built-in plastic tank.

Roof rails are standard on the Moorea. If you fit the optional roof rack bars you can take light, bulky ‘toys’ with you on vacation.

The internal layout in this permanent double bed (DB) version has the ‘U’-shaped lounge forward, kitchen amidships, and a fore and aft double bed ahead of the full width bathroom across the rear of the ‘van. The double bed, 1350mm x 1950mm, has a built-in fabric headboard and side panel that insulates sleepers should winter cold overwhelm the wall insulation. I found the pair of inner sprung mattresses over wooden slats very comfortable to lie on. There is plenty of room to sit up in bed, but no shelf for my ‘cuppa tea’.

Ventilation is excellent, with a window each side and a hatch above, and so is the lighting, with three ceiling and two reading lights. Personal items and clothing can be stowed away in the three vanity cupboards opposite the bed, using the shelves and locker above the bed, or in storage beneath the bed. Having a full-length wardrobe as well ensures there is more than enough storage for the average couple. A pleated fabric divider can be drawn across to provide privacy between the kitchen and bedroom if required.

As a rule, European RVs have spacious, attractive, yet practical bathrooms, and the Moorea is no exception. The separate moulded shower is a generous 600mm x 750mm in size, with two shelves each side for personal hygiene products. The shower handpiece can be used ‘free-style’ or fastened at shampooing height to its wall fitting. The Thetford C200 cassette toilet is at the other side of the bathroom, leaving plenty of space between for the hand basin vanity. It is roomy enough for use as a changing room, with three hooks on the back of the door to hang a change of clothes. The mirror above the circular basin is a useful size and shelf storage below is enclosed with a smart silver ‘roll-top desk’ door. Three ceiling lights provide good illumination while ventilation is adequate with one window and a ceiling vent. This spacious bathroom will appeal to buyers.

While European RVs tend to have notable bathrooms, the kitchens tend to be smaller than Kiwis prefer. The bench top in the Moorea is occupied entirely by the Cramer sink and three-burner hob. You have to lower the glass covers over the sink and/or hob, and/or raise the bench-top extension flap to make workspace available.

Ventilation is excellent, with an opening window behind the bench and a bench-top extractor fan, as well as an overhead extractor under the overhead locker, where there are also a couple of overhead lights.

There is an impressive amount of storage for your supermarket shopping, a three-way 90-litre Dometic fridge for perishables, and the large shelved cupboard to the right would make an excellent pantry with more storage in the smaller cupboard below. Above are three more lockers (where I’d put glasses and crockery), with two ‘knick-knack’ shelves to the left. A neat Cramer oven sits below the bench with a cutlery drawer above. Once organised, I think it will prove to be a workable kitchen space.

The ‘U’-shaped lounge is a natural social focal point. The well-padded cushions are very comfortable to sit upon and not too high and there is storage space under all three seats. Overhead, across the end of the lounge are three large lockers with two reading lights underneath, and a shelf over each side settee. A solidly built freestanding table lowers to form a base should the seating be converted to a double bed. There is a large centre ceiling light fitting and next to it, a 700mm x 450mm Heki hatch.

All windows in the ‘van are double glazed acrylic with built-in insect screens and blinds and there are privacy curtains and side drapes throughout. All furniture is constructed using pre-finished plywood with durable soft ABS edging. Truma gas hot water and general heating units are standard and ducts distribute heat throughout the ’van.

We took the Moorea for a run out the back of the Christchurch airport behind a 2.3 turbo Nissan Mistral. A stiff nor’wester was blowing but it had little effect on the way the Moorea handled either into or across the wind. It tracked straight, didn’t sway and was well behaved. The axle is located near the mid-point of the ‘van, which makes it easy to balance the load and easy to control while reversing. The Moorea has a maximum weight of 1500kg, with a payload of 287kg.

Bruce Reid and Peter Johnson formed Reid Johnson Ltd some years ago and have been importing and selling used UK caravans for the past four years, trading as UK-Caravans (www.uk-caravans.co.nz). They source their product from an old UK friend of Bruce’s, John Midgley who has a car and RV dealership, Midgley Motor Cars Ltd (www.midgley.co.uk) in Skipton, North Yorkshire. Around six months ago they started importing new Cristall brand caravans purchased from Midgley Motor Cars Ltd.

The Cristall Moorea 530DB previewed here retails for $47,995 inc GST. The price includes registration, WOF, electrical WOF, and is fully compliant for NZ with NZ electrical plugs, a 9kg LPG bottle, a 12-volt water pump and ‘water porter’, portable waste water tank, and a Pyramid Tuscany awning.

They also have in stock Mooreas with east/west double bed and twin single beds layouts at the same price as the review model. Prices quoted are for stock in hand. Future prices will depend upon prevailing exchange rates.

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