Daniel and I brought our first camper in late 2015. It was a dirty old 1996 Toyota Estima that we brought for $2000NZD. Daniel did not want to buy it, instead wanting a race car and a tent. I am not really a tent person. I find them too cold, too hot and always damp. Not to mention you have to put them up and down EVERY DAY! I was adamant the Estima would be ours, Daniel conceded and we had ‘The Hoonie Van’. This immediately called for a trip to our home town, Gisborne, where Daniel and my Dad, who will feature strongly as the brains and head creator of many of our projects, promptly built a bed base and kitchen area. Each time we went home or Dad visited the interior design was upgraded. Bed platforms were stabilised and storage was added.
The Hoonie Van took us all over New Zealand’s North Island and on two big trips to the South Island. In February 2017 her past caught up with her and she started misfiring, leaving us stranded at Lake Rotorua (South Island) with our friends Jasmine and Johnny and more sandflies than you can ever imagine. We actually spent most of our meet up sitting in their tiny car drinking beer until the AA could rescue us, including a night in a motel! We are forever grateful for the Premium AA membership that we get each year for Christmas from my parents! A local mechanic was able to fix dear Hoonie up enough to get us back on the road for the rest of our trip and she promptly gave up as soon as we returned to Wellington. Daniel and I felt that this was a sign for us to upgrade. We repaired big red and sold her on. We periodically see her cruising around Wellington.
After our slightly hairy end to the relationship with The Hoonie Van we decided to go a bit up market and brought a Nissan Elgrand. This 3.5 litre, V6 powerhouse was a serious upgrade. We named her Dozer; the bulldozer you can doze in. She promptly had an interior and we were off on more trips, mainly to Palmerston North mountain bike park. Dozer had everything you could want in a liveable van, except fuel economy and as she was also a daily vehicle I decided she had to go. Daniel was bereft, even more so when we ended up with our second Toyota Estima. This time we went for the 2003 champagne model which is much safer than the original in a crash. This Estima is our current van and is dubbed The Compromise.
The Compromise has our best set up yet and this time around our focus has been to build a self contained camper. This opens us to many more campsite options and is especially important for our travels as New Zealand is getting tighter and tighter about its freedom camping laws. We would love a Hyundai I-load or Hiace as our next camper but that will take some serious funds. Soon we will write up a blog post on what you need to build a self contained camper with very limited space. Thanks for reading and try following us and subscribing to see what we have achieved!