BlueSky Caravans

By: David Linklater, Photography by: David Linklater


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First timer BlueSky Caravans has taken an established design, tweaked and improved the important aspects and ensured that it's a totally New Zealand-built product

BlueSky Caravans
BlueSky Caravans
  • Large bathroom and shower area
  • Quality and design on par with industry leaders
  • Modern and fresh interior
  • Customer involved in configuration and build
  • Ready for freedom camping

After a successful career in automotive accessory/installation, David Howe decided the next step would be to own and run a business in which his family could be fully involved. And that turned out to be a completely new caravan brand, BlueSky, which the Howe family is manufacturing from boutique premises on an industrial estate near Auckland's eastern suburbs.

Build to order

BlueSky started because its owners couldn't find exactly what they wanted from other makers. The Howe family went shopping for a caravan last year but had no luck sourcing anything suitable.

"The problem was that we were particularly looking for something for the family, I think," David says. "We ended up in Australia one holidays and bumped into a local manufacturer that was looking for a distributor in New Zealand. We decided we weren't interested in selling somebody else's product, but it did get us thinking that we might like to build our own. That's how we got started."

BlueSky's ethos is very much centred around offering a Kiwi product. The Australian connection is still there: the basic design of BlueSky's 5.7m, 6.1m and 7.1m caravans comes from across the Tasman.

"We didn't want to try and redesign the wheel our first time around," David says.
But there's a difference between design and build, and everything on the BlueSky units is made here in New Zealand and assembled by David's small team – it takes them around four weeks to assemble a complete caravan.

Being a very small operation, BlueSky is keen to have customers involved right from the outset – getting the right product for their needs, which was the whole idea behind the business to start with.
"That way," explains David, "people are just so much happier about what they are getting."

What's different?

That's all very well. But what makes BlueSky products different from the established caravan brands?

"Well, our decor is a little bit fresher and more modern – that's the number one thing people have told us. We offer a choice of beech or mahogany and the whole look is quite European," David says.

"Our benchtops are a bit different; we've got a granite-look finish and people love that – especially as you can put a curved edge on it and still have it looking nice. If you put an edge on a laminated top it has got to be a separate piece of timber, so you end up with a join that doesn't look as good and can trap dirt.

"Women absolutely love the pull-out racks in the kitchen." Says David, they do keep things tidy, but we’d probably tweak the design and hang them from the opposite side just to improve usability long term.

People have also noted some of the well-crafted individual features like the slat beds under the mattresses, the external shower/toilet and the fold-out picnic table, David’s already fielding offers to buy some of these items separately.
"We've also had awesome feedback on our timber, with the curved look on the front of the doors, and our bathrooms. Just the entire decor issue has really gone off.

"We wanted to build completely ready for freedom camping because that's the way the market is going. And double-glazing for the windows is a no-brainer."

The BlueSky demonstration caravan featured here is a 5.7m with a few optional extras fitted: oven, larger 150L fridge and leather upholstery. But standard in the package is a 10-inch television with Freeview, full LED lighting, double-insulated windows with fly screens and Venetian blinds, and 240-volt power throughout.

David admits the current BlueSky caravans are up to 150kg heavier than some rival products.

"That's a downside and we want to change that in the future. But the flipside is that our caravans are seriously durable. I designed them to last a really long time: commercial-grade vinyl, clearcoating as thick as you can possibly get so that it'll never wear away. We've just been trying to do things that little bit better."

Family affair

And yes, when David says Blue Sky is a family oriented business he really means it.

"My 10-year-old son built our website, for example. He just got a book on HTML code from the library and taught himself. Things like that are important.

"So no, we're not here to take on the big names. We're doing this for fun."

Notwithstanding his refreshingly relaxed attitude, David is an experienced businessman and has ambitions for BlueSky. He's currently looking for dealers – but only the right ones, having declined two applications already – and plans to launch yet another new product before Christmas: a "mega-durable" pop-top trailer camper sourced from Australia.

For more information visit www.blueskycaravans.co.nz or ph 09 274 9500.

Specifications

Length 5700mm
Width 2400mm
Power supply Dual 240v/12v (Solar pre-wired)
Fridge 150L gas/electric
Beds 1x Queen Island Bed, 1x secondary double
Fresh water 95L
Grey water 101L
Hot water 22L gas/electric
Bathroom Separate Thetford toilet, internal/external showers
Kitchen 3+1 gas/electric stove and oven

 

 

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