Matt and Dan create super well thought out campers in Christchurch. We caught up with them as they are going through an exciting transition; the business has grown enough that Matt has quit his day job to focus on the vans. Matt shares some insights in to how it has evolved.
You guys fitted out your first van 4 years ago to do a surf trip around NZ, what was that van, how was that trip and where did you go?
This whole thing was all a bit unplanned really! Dan and I were both graduating Uni and wanting to go on a van trip around NZ, as we both hadn’t seen very much of our own beautiful country. The plan was to buy a shitty van (which we did), throw a cheap mattress and cooker in the back and go roaming. But once we started to look into campervan conversions a little more, we thought some storage space, a kitchen and the ability to charge our phones might be handy. Dan worked as a joiner during his studies, with his skills, Youtube, friends and, way more money than we initially intended to spend, our first van (a 2004 Mitsubishi L300) was born.
We spent 6 weeks travelling around the country and living the van life. We got down to Queesntown and worked our way up to Cape Reinga then back to Christchurch. The trip was awesome. I’m a musician so we followed a band I was touring with around the country, meeting them in different cities for the weekend and filling in the weeks exploring and surfing. Dan is a decent surfer, I was definitely just trying not to drown.
Did that trip set the template for how you do your fit outs now? [eg was this the ‘original’ umm original layout?]
Yes, our first van (the L300) set the stage for what would become our ‘Original Vans’. The L300 had a very similar layout (kitchen at the back); however, while building our Original vans we changed all the things we could improve from the L300. The prime example being switching out the BBQ we had in the L300 for a gas hob cooker in the Original vans.
And was that trip the start of the business, like between surfs did you start talking about doing this fulltime?
It was all a bit unplanned and kind of out of necessity really. On the final day of our trip (not kidding), after spending 6 weeks travelling around the country, we blew up our clutch and gearbox. To pay for the repairs we thought we could try to rent the van out on the peer-to-peer campervan rental sites I’d heard about. So that’s what we did. Fortunately, we received a long booking almost immediately, mostly enough to cover the repair bill. With some very tight timings we fixed the van and sent it off on it’s first rental!
Speaking of the Original layout, you have two floorplans The A-List and the Original. A-List being the kitchen at the front and the OG being the kitchen at the back… how come you have the two options?
The two options are a result of us refining our layout over the years as we find better ways of doing things. However the main reason for the switch was to become compliant with the most recent self-containment regulations, so we switched the kitchen to the front. Along with that, we’ve managed to fit in a bigger fridge and other cool bits in our A-List vans!
Which is your personal favourite?
We only released the A-List last year and currently only have two in our fleet, so the jury is still out with customer feedback. However, from personal experience the A-List is our favourite van. We added a bunch of cool stuff into it, queen size bed, bigger fridge, external power and additional lighting (to name a few) all packed in a newer van. We’ve also been developing our build process over the past few years and Dan is now pretty handy programming the CNC machine, making them easier to build. Plus what we’ve learnt is having a small amount of foot space is extremely handy to organise your stuff.
You always put in a divider between the cab and the back, how come?
The dividers are a legacy thing. When we purchased the L300, it was a ex-tradie van and that had a cargo divider installed. We overlayed a panel instead of removing the divider. When building the newer vans we decided we liked the feeling of having the divider, as once you’re in the van it really separates the rear from the cab. You really feel like you’re in a home away from home!
The business; Was the conception of the business to offer rentals, or offer van builds?
Originally, it was to offer campervan rentals, as we just didn’t have the capacity to offer conversions. However, in the second half of 2020 we’ve come to the point that we’re now taking on conversions for private owners. Hit us up for your campervan conversion needs!
Are you aimed at overseas travellers and how has 2020 changed things?
Yes, very much so. I’d say pre-COVID our split was 80/20 respectively and 2020 has changed EVERYTHING. Just like every other tourism operator, we’ve had to figure out ways to cater to the domestic market and changing tourism landscape. So we’re doing 3 day minimum hires – for Kiwi’s to get out on long weekend trips. Along with moving into private conversions for anyone who wants their own custom campervan.
What do Matt and Dan do when they aren’t cleaning returns and on the end of an impact driver?
Up until recently M&D has been a side project for both Dan and I. Dan currently works as a graphic designer and illustrator at an agency here in CHCH, along with building very cool vans. I (Matt) have until recently worked as a project manager at an agency and am also a musician, but have switched to take on business in a more full-time role.
Not sure if we can plug the business, butttttt we’re offering campervan rentals and conversions based out of Christchurch! Contact us for anything campervan related, we love chatting vans and having people swing past our shop with their vans.
Check out their website HERE