Wheel estate: Burstner Nexxo T687

By: Peta Stavelli, Photography by: John Harrington/Motu Trails/Supplied


Burstner Nexxo T687 Burstner, Bikes = Birthday brilliance Burstner Nexxo T687
Burstner Nexxo T687 The vehicle is set for self-contained travel, with plenty of storage inside and out Burstner Nexxo T687
Burstner Nexxo T687 Oceanside Ohiwa Burstner Nexxo T687
Burstner Nexxo T687 Burstner, bikes and a birthday: what more could you want. Burstner Nexxo T687
Burstner Nexxo T687 Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park was among the cleanest I've seen. Burstner Nexxo T687

Peta Stavelli leapt at the opportunity to take a Bürstner Nexxo T687 (also known as an Escape 2), equipped with bikes, for a birthday weekend in the Bay of Plenty

Some say you get too old to celebrate birthdays. I have to disagree. To me, every birthday is a good one, and it sure as heck beats the alternative. So, yes, I am shameless when it comes to celebrating the passing of another year, even as this birthday took me perilously close to a significant milestone.

Next year, I will be truly old. So this year I enjoyed the opportunity for a nod to youth and vitality: the co-pilot and I went cycling near Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty. This is a trip that has been long on my agenda — ever since the Motu Trails opened around 18 months ago. It was intended that we take the easiest of the four grades offered by Motu Trails: the family-friendly Dune Trail — a 22-kilometre return ride around the township and along the river's stop-banks. But fate had other plans.

Bürstner Nexxo T687

We picked up our Bürstner Nexxo T687 from Wilderness Motorhomes at Airport Oaks early on the Friday morning. After a thorough run through of all the moving parts (I hoped the co-pilot was paying particular attention), our bikes were loaded and locked onto the racks. Wilderness made choosing the correct bike sizes really easy. We simply had to choose from small, medium or large, nominate our helmet size, and everything was waiting for us on arrival.

I opted not to use the supplied GPS. I'd looked at the maps and had recently been to Tauranga so I figured the rest of the journey would be a doddle. First mistake. The proposed four-hour drive took us most of the day. The fastest way would have been to head down SH1 and then turn inland just past Lake Karapiro towards Matamata, and continue over the Kaimais to Tauranga from there.

Instead, I elected to drive through Waihi and Katikati, which took most of the morning — especially as it included a generous stop for brunch in lovely Paeroa. Note to oneself: have breakfast before setting off on a long journey — particularly if birthday celebrations have been rowdy and a little premature.

The first day of any trip is generally a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from anticipation and excitement to grumpy overtiredness and a, 'we're on holidays and meant to be having a good time' sort of exasperation. All of which conflicting emotions evaporate as soon as the destination is reached.

We'd decided to keep our accommodation options open, and I am very glad we did. I'm also exceptionally pleased that we took the advice of the lovely young man at Opotiki's i-SITE. While he was careful not to favour any of the campground options presented to us, his description of oceanside Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park convinced us that this was indeed the place for us.

As we drove up to the office and shop to check in, another motorhome pulled in behind. I recognised the design as that of a Coastal Motorhome and confirmed it with the owner, who told us there was a get together with other Coastal owners. We immediately anticipated some good-natured banter about Bürstner versus Coastal with Coastal's owners Mike and Gayle Farrell.

After set up, a glass of wine and a walk around the facilities was in order. Ohiwa Campground's facilities are among the best and cleanest I have so far encountered. Check-in was made exceptionally pleasant by the helpful woman behind the counter, who had some more unexpected news to impart: a bike trail which began just outside the gates of the campground had recently opened.

The next morning was b'day, and a beautiful day to boot, so we decided to explore on our bikes. Since the new cycle path hugged the road alongside the estuary, it was mostly flat and delightfully picturesque. Sure, the tide could have been fulsome, but the mud flats glistened in the morning sun and we had the road to ourselves. To begin with, at least.

A mile or so down the road, the co-pilot indicated that he was turning around to take a look at something and I continued on alone around the sweeping bend just as a rare vehicle happened upon us, driving a little too fast. Momentarily distracted, I failed to jump the front wheel of the bike as the trail passed over a small curb. I was lying on my back stunned and mentally assessing my injuries when the co-pilot cycled to my side. He solicitously checked me over but I could immediately see through his kindness to a tandem emotion: his disappointment at missing the photo opportunity of the trip.

Dramatic Recreation OnlyAs it turned out, a scratched knee and scuffed ankle were the only injuries suffered. I was soon happily on my way again up the only hill and down the exhilarating slope on the other side to another beautiful part of the estuary, and a reserve where we stopped to rest before the return journey.

Later that day we explored more of Opotiki and, during a spontaneous visit to an art exhibition, the friendly locals suggested we also visit Hukutaia Domain where Taketakerau — The Burial Tree — stands at its heart. If you are in the region, do take the time to stroll around the domain where more than 1500 species of New Zealand plants, many rare and endangered, grow in profusion. We stood in awe before Taketakerau, the sacred pururi tree which is estimated to be more than 2000 years old. The tree is also the subject of Taketakerau – the Millenium Tree, the award-winning children's book by neighbouring farmer, Marie Anstis. I reckon the tree should be a national treasure.

The following day, we tore ourselves away from lovely Ohiwa and got lost in Rotorua (go figure — I was driving) en route to our last night stopover at Raglan. God knows I just love this buzzy little town where we unexpectedly met up with friends, and had a second opportunity to use the bikes.

Raglan Kopua Holiday Park is flanked by water on three sides where the river curves around it. It's near to the river bar, with a handy exit point to the water on that side for fisher folk, as well as easy access to the village by way of the footbridge. Teenagers were jumping from the bridge into the swirling water of a fast incoming tide as we walked to the township to meet our young friends. As expected, we were the oldest in a lively throng of hip surfers and surfing hipsters, but nobody seemed to mind.

On our last morning we cycled happily around the waterfront to Raglan Wharf, recently rebuilt after the disastrous fire which claimed the iconic fresh fish and chip shop in 2010. As is often the way, the ashes have given rise to an exciting new development which includes Tony Sly's Pottery, Soul Shoes, and Raglan Seafoods. The wharf is a popular place for commercial operators and private fishers, so there's always something of interest going on. I could have stayed for hours, but our return home from this leisurely birthday break was imminent.

As we turned the Escape 2 for home, we vowed to return again to Raglan for a longer break.

Bathroom

The bathroom is on the small side, but it is most certainly adequate. It's designed to keep the toilet dry when you're showering, and in true Bürstner style, it cleverly converts to a drying room when needed. Brilliant. The tinted windows are double-glazed for added warmth, and the lighting is all top-of-the-line LED. A full insulation package ensures this vehicle is good to go for winter travel. It includes double-glazed windows, central gas, and electric heating.

Kitchen

There's a great galley — small but perfectly formed with everything essential for cooking, cooling, and coping during an extended stay on the road. This vehicle is set for self-contained travel. There's plenty of storage, both inside and out, although we found that we could have utilised it better and made a mental note to bite the bullet and pack our stuff away next time, so we were not constantly stepping around our burgeoning suitcases. These are the lessons we learn.

So, how did it drive? The powerful Fiat Ducato 2.3L turbodiesel cab and chassis offers 320Nm of torque. Meanwhile six-speed automated transmission gives you the option of shifting gears yourself or leaving that job to engine (I chose the latter, but the co-pilot is a gadget guy, so he likes to do a bit of both to get the most from the vehicle). Whichever way you manage it, this is a vehicle with plenty of get up and go. And when you get there, it's a gorgeous place to go home to.

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