Campro Revolution

By: Steve Vermeulen, Photography by: Steve Vermeulen

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Steve Vermeulen is all about killing two birds with one stone. He’s also fond of a drop. What better way, then, for him to travel to a Nelson craft beer event but in the locally-built Campro Revolution?

Campro Revolution
Campro Revolution

I’m ordinarily not so thoughtless of my fellow workers to shoot off for an away trip during our busy end-of-year period, but a perfect storm of opportunity soon made me reconsider.

Firstly, the assignment in question was in beautiful Nelson, one of my favourite locations for a relaxing visit and an overnight trial of the locally produced Campro Revolution – a model that promised above average design and build quality – was in theoffing. Lastly, a clincher that I couldn’tpossibly resist: Free beer.

In a twist of fate an invitation to attend a small but increasingly popular beer fête event hosted by Dead Good Beer Events had culminated with one to sample Campro’s latest Ducato-based motorhome. As a beer and craft brewing enthusiast this trip had my name all over it.

Beer is actually an ideal catalyst for touring Nelson; the typical dry, warm weather and rich soils provide the perfect growing conditions for hops and it’s the only region to produce them for export purposes. The availability of the integral ingredient also means there is an abundance of boutique brewers in the upper South Island, the most famous being the McCashin Brewery, founded by former All Black, Terry McCashin and his wife.The brewery has become a beacon for New Zealand’s independent beer, wine and cider industries.

Just two and a half kilometres down the road from the McCashin’s is Campro Motorhomes, a business producing products of equally impressive quality. Since 2000, and after outgrowing a previous premises, proprietor and joiner Andrew Litchfield and his team, including on site auto and 240-volt electricians, have focused on offering high quality revamps and fi t-outs of all manner of RVs, from small vans to 12m buses. But, as Andrew explains, a motorhome of their own has long been on the cards.

"For the last few years, we had played with the idea of a van-based product that incorporated a proper motorhome-style side door. It’s pretty unique [hence the name] and offers some distinct advantages," he says.

Without the sliding door, the kitchen workspace can be larger – the Revolution sports a 1.9m bench – and there’s a real sense of privacy and security that is immediately notable. I also think it’s just a lot lighter, more convenient and easier to use over and again. As in beer production, simplicity is often the key and good things can’t be rushed. As simple as it may seem though, introducing a familiar hinged door to the side of a van took some time to get 100 percent right. The design and build process took around nine months to ensure space and style was maximised. The result is, I’d have to say, fairly seamless.

ENGINE AND POWER I have a few hours to get familiar with the Revolution before heading toward the beer fete, and while the usual Nelson sun wasn’t out, exploring remained a pleasure. Front-wheel drive may not be ideal for every condition but I still managed to get the Revolution onto a sandy beach without drama. I’m a massive fan of the Ducato for motorhomes, and the Campro carved up the coastal road around the delightfully quaint European-inspired Monaco village. I doubled back past Tahunanui Beach, toward Nelson’s CBD, and found it as comfortable as any car.With plenty of power and torque on tap, the 2.3-litre diesel is a proven performer. There’s also a 3.0-litre option available that might be better for those on the road full- time, otherwise this 81kW power unit is absolutely adequate.

INSIDE The Campro offers a useful front lounge configuration, with a bench seat that is great for reading, relaxing or, with the two swivel cabin seats facing the living area, entertaining. The interior design can be catered for your personal tastes, of course, but you could do much worse than this demonstrator’s contemporary ashy upholstery and clean white wall linings. It is bathed in soft LED lighting and though the Revolution gives away a small amount in interior width (Andrew is confi dent he can squeeze a little more than the current 1850mm interior width in future designs) it remains a comfortable and tastefully appointed interior.

Campro’s experience in building quality product is obvious – cabinet gaps are snug and even and everything is laid out well and fits together as well as any of the obvious options this goes up against in the market. That’s another similarity with craft brewing not lost on me as I pull the power cable from the Revolution’s capacious under bed storage space before heading out for a tipple. In addition to their free house pub (meaning it’s not aligned to any specific brewery or beer brand), Nelson-ites Mic Dover and Eelco A Boswijk created Dead Good Beer Events Ltd to run regular beer tasting events and beer festivals in the Nelson region.

As much as I enjoy the beer and the company, I wisely head back to the camp site before imbibing more than I ought to. The Revolution’s quiet and easy motorhome door is a real benefit here and I really appreciate not having to deal with the sliding option.

The standard electric step, discreet external light and cleverly-transformed aperture genuinely do work so much better for coming and going. And inside, pleasingly, even with a few quiets under one’s belt converting the Revolution’s rear lounge to a king bed takes no time and there’s few joins to make up the sleeping area. Perhaps predictably given the evening’s activities, I slept like a baby.

The attractive curtains and double glazed windows with combined sunshades/fly screen blinds all combat unwanted light and ambient noise at night well, though I’d appreciate a drawable curtain around the cabin glasshouse. At the moment the Revolution is specified with snazzy-looking but awkward-to-install stick-on shades. The shades do at least retain the heat while plush carpet and central heating also ensure you’re warm and cosy.

With the crack of dawn the rainclouds finally dissipate long enough for me to extend the 4m Fiamma awning and enjoy my last few hours in Nelson. It’s always one of my favourite places to visit, but on this trip I’ve uncovered a couple of new reasons to keep it at the top of the list.

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