In the back of their minds, Pam and Brian Bolton had long had the idea that one day when they weren’t so busy they would buy an RV. They eventually retired and then tragically, before they could make it a reality, Brian died. Pam shifted locality to a small apartment block on a beach just north of Auckland to begin the next phase of her life. Two of her new neighbours who were also friends and single women owned motorhomes and frequently went away together. Combined with this and not being able to travel overseas because of Covid-19, Pam’s altered circumstances pushed her towards buying a RV for herself.
Did you have any RV experience before you bought the van you have now?
A long time ago Brian and I travelled around Europe with our small daughter and I have great memories of that time. We thought it was amazing and would love to have done more, but we had to come home to a seven-day-a-week business. From then on, any leisure time we had was spent in our boat. Brian had only just retired when he died.
How did you go about deciding what you wanted?
I travelled with my friends in their motorhomes and that gave me the idea that I wanted a campervan, which I thought would be easier than a motorhome. I’m a good driver and I’m not timid but I felt I would be comfortable in something a bit smaller. I spent time on the internet looking at vehicles and I went to two motorhome shows. It was really at the shows that I started to work out what I wanted, and after that I started going around dealerships that had the sorts of campervans I’d identified as being suitable.
What criteria did you decide must be included?
I wanted a newish campervan with an automatic gearbox, and a low mileage. The interior had to have two single beds so I could take my grandson away with me. In essence, I wanted a basic campervan that was modern but which had features and amenities that were not complicated or difficult to understand and operate. The rest of the layout didn’t really matter. I didn’t mind a small kitchen and didn’t want an oven. A combined bathroom was fine as long as it had a decent shower.
What did you end up with?
I saw several campervans that fitted my essential criteria, but I settled on a two-year-old Kea Foxtrot fitted out by Action Manufacturing in Albany. It was an ex-rental with only 27,000km on the clock and carried a year’s warranty. The base vehicle is a Renault Master LWB van and the GVM is 3500kg. The external length is just 6.2 metres, which makes it very easy to drive and manoeuvre. Under the bonnet the engine is a 2.3-litre turbo-diesel, which is more than enough power. The automatic gearbox is six-speed and can also be used manually. Inside, a small kitchen sits behind the driver’s cab and in part of the sliding door area. The bathroom is in the middle on the off-side, and at the rear two sideways-facing seats make up into a double or two singles beds. The water tank holds 78 litres and it has a solar panel and LED lights.
Who did you buy it from and how was the handover?
I bought it from the RV Super Centre in Albany. The staff were helpful and the handover was comprehensive. The salesman told me I would probably not be able to take everything in all at once, and he was right. I was grateful that it was an ex-rental and came with a manual that contained explicit instructions. I found everything perfectly easy to understand and only had to ring once with a query. So far I have not experienced issues with anything.
What are your travel plans?
I’ll just play it as it goes. at’s the joy of travelling in a campervan. Where I go will depend on things like the weather. I can go as long as I like and can always come home if there’s a change of plan. I can go with friends or by myself and stay in camping grounds or freedom camp. It’s also a convenient way to visit and stay with friends who are out of town.
What tips would you give anyone buying an RV?
From the perspective of a woman on her own, I would say to others in the same position to go for something small that is easy to drive, turn and park. The length of my vehicle makes it a joy to operate in those situations. It has a backing camera but actually I use the mirrors as that is the way I am used to doing it. The other thing I have already mentioned is not to go for too many bells and whistles that are complicated to operate. They may seem desirable but it’s better to have peace of mind.
What are your two favourite parking spots so far?
I really like the Ohope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park where I was close to the beach and could look straight out to sea. I’m sure it would get crowded in summer but it wasn’t when I was there. The other place I enjoyed was the Miranda Holiday Park. I went there with my grandson and, with its hot pool, an extensive playground and lots of other activities, there was plenty to keep the both of us entertained.