Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review

MCD writer Paul Owen took a quick sojourn to Tauranga to get a peek at this brand-new caravan that’s designed for comfort, with maximum space.

It’s not often a journalist gets to witness the birth of a new caravan brand, yet that’s what it felt like when I visited Road Life in Tauranga recently and found that the usual Aussie-made Sunliner motorhomes in the sales yard have been joined by several beefy off-grid ready caravans bearing a new brand, Pinnacle.

Road Life is New Zealand’s only dealership selling the high-quality motorhomes made in Melbourne by Sunliner. So, why design, assemble, distribute, and sell a range of adventure-oriented caravans that target buyers who want something that they can tow to wilder locations when Sunliner is already an aspirational motorhome brand with a high reputation for luxurious build quality and customer service? Ironically, it’s the success of Sunliner that has inspired Rhys and Michele Hunter to branch out with Pinnacle.

“We have huge demand for Sunliners,” says Rhys, “but only have access to a finite number of their motorhomes that are earmarked for export from Australia to New Zealand.

“It therefore made sense to develop a caravan brand to further expand our business, especially one aimed at a growing new segment of the market.”

The Hunters have registered a new company, Atlas Direct, to handle the wholesale side of the business and keep it separate from the retail operations of Road Life. Atlas will continue refining the design of the vans to New Zealand conditions in their consultations with the manufacturer that does the basic build of the Pinnacle caravans. It also assembles the caravans that arrive here in a knocked-down form, does a complete gas and electrical install to New Zealand certifications, and prepares them fully for initial NZMCA self-containment approval.

“I like to think of these as off-grid caravans, and our customers can take full advantage of that simply by joining the NZMCA and gaining the full self-containment certification that a Pinnacle caravan is already prepared for,” says Rhys.

THE HANDOVER

Pre-delivery assembly is done in New Zealand, and this is followed by a rigorous checking process where all the systems aboard the caravan are thoroughly checked and tested. This includes making sure the 14L Truma boilers for the water heating are fully charged with water, the solar panels are charging the two 100A/h deep cycle batteries, the diesel heaters are primed and ready to go, and checking all bearings. With the testing taking a lot of time, it probably takes about a week to get one of the vans ready for sale.

As someone with a lot of experience in the RV industry, Rhys knows the difference that a thorough familiarisation process for the customer with the product can make. “I’ve seen a lot of so-called ‘problems’ develop – not because there was anything wrong with something, but because the owner hadn’t been sufficiently instructed on how to properly use their RV,” he explains. As a result, the handover process for both Sunliner motorhomes and Pinnacle caravans is relatively long, averaging around two to three hours. New owners are also encouraged to revisit the dealership a week or so later for a further consultation to ensure that they are fully engaged with every aspect of their new motorhome or caravan.

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Okareka’s cabin still ticks boxes despite being shorter than the Tarawera’s
Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Slide-out fridge and gas hob are instantly accessed for a cookout
Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Okareka’s multi-purpose sink and bench is handily placed next to the bathroom

SUBLIME SIMPLICITY

What you see is what you get with a Pinnacle, and the caravans exude a rugged durability on the outside that carries over to the interior. The construction builds a tubular aluminum frame on top of a hot-dip galvanised chassis, which is then dressed with a floor, roof and walls made of an aluminum composite with a layer of insulation.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Avida Busselton Review

Windows all possess their own frames, a boon for sealing durability, and there’s a protective skirt of alloy checker plate placed right around the sides of the caravans. Similarly armoured with checker plate are the under-floor water tanks, but it’s the suspension that really defines a Pinnacle as a caravan that can handle whatever the tow vehicle can, if not more. Each individual stub axle and bearing set fitted to a Pinnacle is of a type that would normally carry 3000kg.

“That’s what makes them tough enough to handle our New Zealand road conditions. Compared to one of these, many other caravans might as well have been built on top of skateboards,” says Rhys.


Rhys has noticed that farmers and other rural folk respond particularly favourably when he shows them the electrical switchboard and fuses of a Pinnacle. “They are more inclined to ask questions like, ‘Can I get one up this track?’ or ‘Can I store it in the old milking shed on the farm?’ They immediately voice their appreciation of how simple the layout is and how everything can be easily fixed should something go wrong.”

On some models the switchboard is located on the side of the stairwell, just inside the caravan, allowing access to a blown fuse just by reaching through the entry door frame while standing outside. Gas bottle access is similarly easy, with two bottles clamped safely above the drawbar rather than hidden in a compartment.

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
From small things, big things grow with the Rotoiti

THE FULL FAMILY

When complete, the Pinnacle range will consist of four models – one ‘Toy Hauler [TH]’ of permanent height with electrically deployed load platform at the rear, one hard top [HT] family caravan and two ‘pop-tops’ [PT] with extendable roofs that will mark the entry points to the range. All models are named after New Zealand lakes.

Expect to pay $48,888 for the Rotoiti PT-10, the shortest of the pop-tops, and from $78,000 for the highest-priced and longest Pinnacle in the range, the Tarawera HT-18 with a 5.5m-long cabin. The latter can be ordered in two configurations: a more spacious three-berth (the dining area converts into an extra single), or a four-berth equipped with a couple of bunk beds. The earliest to arrive and be assembled and evaluated is the $68,888 Okareka TH-13, at 900mm shorter than the Tarawera. The fourth and final model in the range is the Wanaka PT-15, which has a pop-top cabin that’s almost a metre longer than that of the Rotoiti PT-10. Rhys and Michele expect the Tarawera to become the best-seller of the four. It’s the most spacious, and the bunks model will have wide appeal the family caravanning market.

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Rotoiti’s telescopic table leg drops down to provide a base for a double bed

RAISING THE ROOF

With the Wanaka PT-15 (4.6m long cabin) yet to arrive in New Zealand, it was up to the smaller single-axle Rotoiti with its four metre-long cabin to represent the poptop Pinnacle models during my visit. This featured an easy-lift roof that forms a high-rise A-frame structure when erect, creating two rooms – a double bedroom with a 2.0m x 1.65m bed (same main bed size as other Pinnacles) and a dining-entertainment area with seats surrounding a drop-down table that can be converted into another bedroom. Both these areas offer a huge amount of headroom, making the Rotoiti feel quite spacious inside despite its compact dimensions when the roof is folded down for towing.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Coachman Lusso Caravan Review
Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
When erect, the pop-top fills the Rotoiti’s cabin with natural light
Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Large overhead windows provide plenty of air flow

COOKING

There was no sign of a full kitchen inside the Rotoiti, nor the sink bench and taps fitted across the inside front wall of the Okareka and Tarawera, however like other Pinnacle models there is a large slide-out kitchen outside. It’s equipped and sized to please the fussiest camp chef, sliding out easily to give access to a stainless-steel bench with drawers, a sink and a four-burner hob. If the latter’s not enough, there’s also a fitting on the slide-out kitchen for a BBQ. Another drawer nearby slides out a 50L fridge/freezer unit, and the whole cooking area can be protected from the weather by a roll-out awning.

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Cutlery/utensil drawer handily placed below the four-burner hob
Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
The fridge compartment is handy for storing other stuff too

TOYS R’ US

The 1.45m long load platform of the Okareka model can carry a maximum load of 300kg: more than enough for a quad bike or a pair of dirt bikes, or a platoon of the heaviest e-bikes in creation. When the load platform is surplus to use, the wire cable from the winch mounted on the drawbar runs over the top of the caravan through pulleys on the roof rails to haul it upright again.

That same remote-operated winch also comes in handy when loading kayaks to the caravans’ roof-top rails, and takes the grunt out of pushing motorcycles up ramps to their positions on the load platform or hauling a small alloy boat onto the back.

Rhys recommends owners always carry some weight on the platform because that model places more weight on the towball when the load platform isn’t in use.

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Two Pinnacles ready for parking next to the lake they’re named after

EARLY DAYS

The search for an adventure caravan range to complement Road Life’s plush Sunliner motorhomes has taken the Hunters two and a half years, and they are excited that the four-model Pinnacle range is almost ready to launch. There are a few more details to sort out as far as pricing and specifications go for all models to get final sign-off, but the Okareka was ready for sale at the time of my visit. Viewed as a signpost towards where things are headed for New Zealand’s newest caravan brand, the Okareka points towards an affordable and durable caravan range that is perfectly in tune with the passion of many Kiwis for our wilderness and the many enjoyable pastimes that await us there.

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Review
Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Floorplan – click to expand

Pinnacle Rotoiti PT-10 Specifications

Chassis

Hot-dipped galvanised chassis, off-road 265/75 R16 tyres with aluminium alloy rim, 10-inch electric drum brakes, four stabiliser legs

Power

Solar panels, 2 x 100A/h deep cycle batteries

Plumbing

Large capacity water and grey tanks. Trauma 14L gas LPG gas and 240v hot water service, 2x 4kg gas bottles

Exterior

Waterproof PVC roof-top tent, two-piece entry door with fly screen, slide-out stainless-steel kitchen with 2-burner gas hob, slide-out fridge / freezer (50L), external PVC shower room, external PVC rollout awning, large front aluminium storage box, checker plate surrounding lower van exterior and water tanks

Interior

Main bed (1875mm x 1600mm) bed in lounge area – when made up (1650 x 1600mm), LED lights, USB ports

Climate

Diesel heater

Entertainment

Radio with internal and external speakers, TV

Safety

Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm

Optional Extras

Internet – $1500 (installed). Rotoit PT-10 price includes on road costs. 

* Errors and omissions excepted (E and OE).

Find out more at www.roadlife.co.nz

Looking for motorhomes or caravans for sale in NZ? Browse our latest listings here

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Related Posts

Jayco Optimum FA.25-3 Review

Jayco Optimum FA.25-3 Review

If interior space is important but you still want a motorhome built on a reasonably compact chassis, Randall Johnson says the all new 2022 Jayco Optimum FA.25-3 is definitely worth a closer look.

Read More »