With glamping, port-a-baches, kitsets and caravanning now popular in New Zealand, there’s a holiday option for everyone.
Classic caravan the kiwi bach on wheels
Beth Eagle’s mission is to revive the classic caravans that were built here from the 1950s to the 1980s. “They’re part of our Kiwi heritage,” she says. “I think it’s so worthwhile to give our New Zealand-made caravans the star treatment and get them back on the road with a family to enjoy.”
The star treatment can range from structural chassis repairs and rust proofing to a complete electrical upgrade, interior repaint and new upholstery. Each caravan comes with its own curtains, awning, stove and fridge with vintage glassware, crockery and accessories optional extras. Beth does the initial strip out herself, sews the soft furnishings and completes the reassembling at the end, contracting the rest of the work to “only the best” local trades.
She buys caravans based on their shape and character. “They have all been 1950s to 1970s so far, but if I found a 1980s one that fit the description I wouldn’t discriminate. Caravans seemed to lose their way from the 1980s onwards and many are mass produced, nondescript versions of our iconic Kiwi caravan.”
As some parts are “ridiculously difficult” to source she tries to buy caravans with their original interiors largely intact.
All the interior fittings and furniture are restored to be as true to the originals as possible. “They were built so well and so cleverly. I always say there is nothing in a caravan that shouldn’t be there. The craftsman who built these old vans really thought of everything. That’s why there are so many of them still standing today even after decades of neglect.”
With classic caravanning regarded as a cool way to holiday, sourcing them is becoming increasingly difficult. This and the high standard of finish means the refurbished caravans cost between $20,000-30,000 to buy.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Cameron Zegers