After owning our Swift Kontiki 669 for only just over 2 months we sold it to a couple we met in Paihia on the shake-down trip we did just after buying the Kontiki. Why did we sell the Kontiki? Well, it's a long story, but it certainly wasn't anything to do with the Kontiki's finish, build quality or performance - we were very impressed with it, and Yvonne was really sad to see it go, and value for money it just can't be beaten.

After our order for a Burstner Elegance i900 was cancelled, we then looked at the Concorde Charisma 890G that was on display at Barrons in Taupo, but for reasons best not told, we did not buy it, however we subsequently successfully bid on the Kontiki 669 and acquired it - (see the Kontiki page). Shortly after buying the Kontiki we were contacted by Barrons to say a Niesmann & Bischoff Flair was on the water and was due to arrive in NZ. N&B is a division of Hymer who build both Hymer and Burstner motorhomes, so we were interested. However, shortly thereafter the owner of Barrons died rather tragically, so in our minds, that was that!

However, on the way back to Napier after a trip up north in the Kontiki, we stopped off at Barrons to have a small water leak at the fresh water valve repaired and we saw the Flair. We were able to go inside the motorhome and have a close look at it. We liked what we saw, besides I hadn't jus done my truck license for nothing!

I made contact with the firm of accountants who were handling the closing down on Barrons, as a result of an initial discussion with one of the partners we drove to Taupo again to take the Flair for a test drive. A couple of days went by and I then made an informal offer to purchase the Flair on condition I sold the Kontiki. By now however, Ron (the person I met up north who expressed an interest in buying the Kontiki) was in Canada & Alaska on vacation so we had to wait for him to get back to NZ to see if he really would buy the Kontiki. My offer was accepted and as soon as Ron & Sheryl returned to NZ, he, true to his word, phoned me to say they would come down to Napier in a few days time to collect the Kontiki, which they did. We were then able to conclude the deal on the Flair, on the basis we would collect it on Friday 1st July.

We once again drove to Taupo, it's a terrible road, I think one of the worst in NZ. The numerous logging trucks don't make the journey any less stress free. Why are they such bad drivers? On arrival in Taupo a spotlessly clean Flair was waiting for us. We decided to stay in Taupo for the weekend so we could test all the systems. As Barrons is closing down there is no warranty with the RV, so it was important to test as much as possible while still in Taupo - as it turned out this was a wise decision - the Thetford C250-S electric flush toilet would not flush. Unfortunately after a good few hours of fault finding it appears the Thetford PCB is faulty. Luckily, the NZ Thetford agent lives in Taupo so he came around to have a look and has ordered a new PCB. Thankfully, all other appliances worked well, especially the Alde 3010 central heating system.

The early morning outside temperature at Taupo was -2C, however with the Alde heating system set to 24C, we were a toasty 23C inside, in fact it was so warm we slept just under sheets! Yvonne's car windscreen had a thick layer of ice on it in the morning and all the grass in the camp was frost covered.

As always the first drive back to Napier in a new motorhome is a little intimidating - the road is tortuously twisty with a few very steep and long hills. My previous Fiat Ducato motorhomes weighed in at around 4,000kgs and handled these hills perfectly - in most instances I could do the 100kph speed limit up the steepest of hills, but I really wondered how the Flair, weighing in at around 5,700kgs, with only an extra 10HP, would cope. I am pleased to report that although it is not as fast going uphill as the previous Fiat powered motorhomes it retained a respectable speed of around 70kph up the steepest and longest hill. The Agile automated manual gearbox worked well, although I found using it in manual mode up the steep hills worked a lot better. Around town, the Agile gearbox performs very well and did not take much getting used to. True to the reports I read on the 'net, the motor heated up quite quickly on the steep hills but once the noisy fan kicked in the temperature dropped rapidly.

When this motorhome was ordered from the factory it had almost every optional items fitted, which in one way is great but in another it goes against my normal philosophy of keeping things simple - the less there's fitted the less there's to go wrong. Some of the extras fitted are;
Niesmann & Bischoff Flair 8000i CFB
The large garage