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Caravan Guide

Absolutely everything you need to know about caravans

New Zealand is great for driving holidays with so many amazing places only a few hours apart. You’re never far from a main town and it’s only a few 100kms from the east coast to the west coast. That’s why caravanning is a great way to see the best of it.

Caravanning allows you to park up, unhitch and stay put in your favourite places with all the comforts of home, while still having the freedom to go exploring in the vehicle you use to tow it. Plus, it’s a much lower investment than a bach or motorhome but comes with many of the same benefits.

Whether you’re new to the caravan lifestyle or are more experienced, still researching your options or ready to buy, you’ll find everything you need to know right here.

Is the caravanning lifestyle right for you?

Anyone and everyone can enjoy caravanning as a lifestyle choice and that’s why thousands do. It’s great for families big and small, and people of all ages. Worried about towing? No need, there’s a caravan for everyone’s towing capability.

The caravan lifestyle is great for:

  • Full time living on a permanent site
  • Permanent siting at a campground for year-round enjoyment
  • Family holidays – some great family floorplans available
  • Budget conscious travellers - get into the lifestyle for low initial outlay
  • Visiting the best campsites in the country

What types of features does a caravan have?

Caravans come in all different sizes and capacities with a lot of different features. Here’s a rundown of what they tend to have and what it means.


Usually from two to six and refers to the number of people the caravan can sleep.

Five and six berths are normally geared up as family caravans perhaps with a set of bunks for the kids. 

Some of the larger caravans may be ideal for two but have additional inserts or squabs that can be purchased to make living areas accommodate more.

Be mindful that to be self-contained for the number of berths the caravan will need to have the adequate water capacity of 12L per person. 

    Bed style

    Beds can be singles, doubles or queens and you’ll find them located in all sorts of places:

    • Tucked away under a seat
    • Island beds (space on either side)
    • French bed (one side against the wall) 
    • Single beds 
    • Lounge (makes up into two single or a double bed) 
    • Bunks 


      With caravanning, the length of your caravan does factor into the decision making but certainly shouldn't put you off. Length often but not always (when it comes to the Bailey Australia built models) means weight, which in turn means a bigger tow vehicle. The best place to start when it comes to caravanning is whether you have an existing tow vehicle that can accommodate the caravan you're looking for. 

      • 5.5m-7.0m - small, compact caravans easy to tow, easy to maneuver 
      • 7.0m-8.0m - medium sized caravans with single and dual axle options 
      • 8.0m+ - dual axle, permanent beds, most manufacturers in this length will be heavy - this is the benefit of the Bailey Australia caravans

        Alu-tech 5 part construction

        Impact resistant fiberglass body panels, bonded and bolted to a unique interlocking aluminium external frame and fixed to a 44mm thick floor.

        The benefit of this is unrivalled strength yet light weight. 


          Breakaway cable
          A thin steel wire normally coated in a coloured plastic that attaches to the caravan and then to the car. In the event the caravan detaches from a car whilst towing the breakaway cable will apply the caravan’s brakes. This piece of equipment is a legal requirement.

          A device fitted either to the hitch head of a caravan or to the A frame cover that helps to minimise snaking while towing.

          Roll away tanks
          Containers that sit outside the caravan that store the water.

            Caravanning 101 basic terminology

            So you want to get out on the road and enjoy our beautiful country and you're thinking a caravan is the way to go. We understand why, it’s cost effective especially if you already have the tow vehicle.

            Read more

            Towing a caravan

            You’ll need to get a tow assessment to ensure you have the right vehicle to get your caravan where it needs to be. We can help you with this when it comes time to buy. For now, here are some things you may not know about towing:

            • A 4WD is not always essential, it depends on the caravan
            • With a fully loaded trailer, braked or unbraked, you must be able to stop from 30km/h on a dry road within seven metres
            • You shouldn't tow an unbraked trailer that, when fully laden, weighs more than ¾ the weight of the tow vehicle
            • 99% of caravans these days will be braked meaning you can work off braked towing capacity of your car
            • Don’t assume the rating of the tow bar and the car are the same
            Read more

            Which caravan is best for you?

            It all depends on who you are and what kind of lifestyle you want your caravan to create for you.

            Bailey Phoenix

            A great entry level caravan for those who don’t have self-contained freedom camping high on the agenda. It’s small, lightweight and single axle, so easy to tow. You don’t need a big powerful SUV, it can be towed by most small to medium cars but you’ll still need to get a tow assessment. Many feel super comfortable driving with a Phoenix due to their size and weight. It's the perfect caravan for first-timers. 

              Bailey Pegasus Grande

              This has the addition of some great features like solar panels. Available on a single or double axle, the Pegasus is a little longer but not too big and heavy. Most are 4 berths with family plans available with bunks also. They are also built extra wide meaning they have plenty of space inside. 

                Bailey Unicorn

                This is the top spec caravan from the Bailey Euro range with the required specification for some self-containment. Most 4 berth are available on a single or double axle.

                  Bailey Coastal

                  Designed and built in Australia, Kiwis love the nice, light, bright colour schemes that come with the Coastal caravan. All are 2 berth with floorplans that are highly functional for the way Kiwis use caravans. Specification is great for self-contained camping with water tanks as standard.

                    What to look for when buying a family caravan

                    Caravanning is a great way to see the best New Zealand has to offer. Head away with the family to give your children access to some of the best outdoor playgrounds a kid could ask for; nature, forests, beaches.

                    Read more
                    Tips for buying a caravan 1

                    Tips for buying a caravan

                    Ready to buy? How exciting. Here’s what to expect when you go through the process, including some questions to ask to help you know you’re making the right decision.

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                    Thinking of selling your caravan?

                    When it comes time to sell your caravan and get the best price you’ll need a comprehensive and professional valuation that takes into account current market conditions, and a reputable company that can sell it as not all people like to buy privately because it offers no protection.

                    We can trade your caravan or sell it on your behalf. Click here for a free valuation.

                    Inspiration – travelling New Zealand in a caravan

                    Our family grew up holidaying in a caravan so we know it pretty well. Here are some helpful resources to make sure you experience the very best of New Zealand in yours.

                    Additional resources

                    Looking for more information on caravanning?

                    Still need more?

                    Our friendly team are always here to help so get in touch any time.

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