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Caravan Guide

Absolutely everything you need to know about caravans

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New Zealand is great for driving holidays with so many 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 are ready to buy, you'll find everything you need to know right here.

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Is the caravanning lifestyle right for you?

Anyyone 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 sitting 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

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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.

  • Berth

    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 single, doubles or queens and you'll find them located in all sorts of places like island beds, french beds, bunks or even tucked away under a seat.

  • Length

    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.

    5.5-7m - small, compact caravans easy to tow, each to manoeuvre

    7-8m - medium sized caravans with single and dual axle options

    8m - dual axle, permanent beds, most manufacturers in this length will be heavy

  • 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.

  • Other

    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.

    Stabiliser
    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.

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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.

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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, read our blog for some tips you may not know about towing.

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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 campaign 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 specifications 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 campaign with water tanks as standard.

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What to look for when buying a family caravan

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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 take sinto account current market conditions, and a reputable company that can sell it as not all people like to buy privately as it offers no protection.

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

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.

What is the NZ Motor Caravan Association?

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is a membership based organisation representing the interests of private motor caravan owners in New Zealand.

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Caravans for beginners

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Looking for more information on caravanning?

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