Buying another motorhome in New Zealand has been an experience to forget & get-over as quickly as possible.
After a few trips to Taupo to view our preferred make of RV, namely, Burstner, we decided to order a Burstner Elegance i900. It had everything we wanted, especially an island bed. Our previous Elegance was a great RV but because of the large garage the main bed was raised and an east/west configuration which meant whoever slept in the inside position had to climb over the other person to get out of bed - not an ideal situation for either party. So this time, the absolute non-negotiable was an island bed.
Anyway, about 6 weeks after paying our deposit on the i900, and on the day I started my heavy-duty drivers license I received a call from Barrons, from whom I ordered the Burstner, informing me they were shutting shop and closing down so they were cancelling my order. The only good thing I have to say about this is my deposit was refunded immediately. I notice the Sale Terms & Conditions did not allow either party to cancel an order, but there's absolutely no merit in forcing someone to sell you something, against their will.
So, after all my research into the i900, my studying and subsequent success in obtaining my heavy duty licence, together with our anticipation of getting our new RV around August, we were now RV-less and a bit shattered.
We did yet another trip to Taupo - we looked at a number of RV's at Barrons but really couldn't find anything we really liked, even the luxurious Concorde Charisma ($440,000) lacked some pretty fundamental features. It was rethink time. Barrons had a Niessman & Bischoff Flair on the water from Germany, but due to the owner of Barrons personal predicament he could not, would not commit to a price or delivery. While we were there looking at the Concorde, we noticed a new Swift Kontiki 669 low-line that was on the "floor". Yvonne and I went inside it and had a good look around, and also had a good look of the exterior and fittings.
Although our preference is for an A-class RV, this C-Class does not have the awful bulbous Luton above the drivers cab. It ticked most of our boxes and significantly, it has an island bed and reasonable sized garage storage area. It's such a pity NZ motorhome manufacturers build such awful looking motorhomes - they resemble caravans stuck onto truck chassis's. They really are horrific and ridiculously high prices that would make your eyes water, in disbelief! This is why we buy imported motorhomes as opposed to the terrible looking Kiwi ones.
The owner of Barrons has been instructed by attorneys (due to his personal predicament), to sell all his stock on Trade Me, a well know and very successful NZ auction site. This vehicle was on auction and the closing date was the following Monday night.
Once again, I tried unsuccessfully to get Barrons to give me a confirmed price on the N&B Flair (a small variance was acceptable), we knew it would be in the $320-360,000 range, probably closer to the top figure. In light of his reluctance to give us some idea of price we decided to bid on the Swift.
On the night, needless to say there were a few serious bidders who pushed the price up a bit higher than I really wanted to go, but in the end we got it for a price significantly lower than the price it would cost to bring one into NZ - after freight, customs duty and GST - then on top of that one would have to get NZ compliance and that's never an easy or uneventful experience.
We are now proud owners of a brand new UK-built Swift Kontiki 669 RV. We took delivery on Friday 8th April and spent the night in Taupo to see if everything worked OK, especially the heating system, which it did. It was a chilly 8C outside and we were a toasty 22C inside.
It is very comfortable to drive and impressed me on the drive back from Taupo to Napier - 145kms of twisty, mountainous and challenging road conditions. As always the Fiat Ducato 3.0-litre motor, with its 6-speed manual gearbox performed well and even up the steepest of hills I was able to maintain a very respectable speed at worst and the speed limit most other times, I even overtook a number of motorhomes up the steepest hill between Napier & Taupo.
Surprisingly it was very quiet on the road, not as many rattles as are normally evident in a RV and the ride wasn't as hard or harsh as my last 2 Fiat powered Alko chassis motorhomes.
As with every motorhome one makes a few compromises, this motorhome is UK-built and not German built so we thought the quality at first glance is not as good as a German built motorhome, but we quickly realised it's of the same high standard as the German ones - we are very impressed with the finish quality. We normally prefer a totally separate toilet and shower area, in this motorhome they are combined in one room, but the shower does have a door, so in a way they are separate - and then there's A-class versus C-class, but as always there are pros & cons about these configurations.
We hope to visit a number of places in New Zealand which we either have not been to, or went to but could not really explore thoroughly as I always had to be in internet / email contact at least 4 times daily for business. Now that I am retired (partially, anyway), I no longer need to be tied to the end of a Wi-Fi connection or in range of a Vodafone connection. Generally we found Vodafone totally useless in rural areas so we always had to stay in towns. This time we hope to freedom camp a lot more, especially on South Island.
The non-negotiable, our Island bed
Pick-up day at Barrons, Taupo
Our first night, at Taupo
Next morning at Top Ten, Taupo
Swift Kontiki 669 Low-line