NZ is such a cool village. I drive past Fili’s short wheel base Landy every other day. You know how it is, you notice Landys and Cruisers. Every week or so, I’d see a new mod, the lift, the new feet; ever evolving. Then the roof top tent went on. Maaaaaan I need to get hold of the owner now! Turns out Fili is my missus’s hairdresser’s boyfriend. Turns out he knew the website. Boring story aye, but the point is we are all only a degree separated on the Shakey Isles. Here is Fili’s story, it’s better than mine.
Hi my name is Fili Tapa. I’m from Tongan descent, born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand.
Like most kiwi boys I grew up playing footy and spending a lot of time in the water swimming and performing big manu’s or my friends would call it belly-flops as my diving technique was more loud slapping noises than big splashes.
I’ve been into fitness for as long as I can remember due to my father having the old bench press in our home garage as a kid to now having fitness activities in my life as a daily routine. Throughout my life I’ve always tried to find new challenges and exciting ways to make fitness fun and this led me to hiking. It was far more exciting than road running or being on a treadmill in a gym. This new activity ignited a lot of new interests such as dabbling in the art of photography and videography, connecting with like-minded people and creating some of the best moments in my life.
When I’m not running around in the bush, being in front/behind the camera or making strange noises lifting things in the gym, I spend most of my time in the I.T. space as a project manager. But now a lot of that time is being allocated to my new mate “The Black Bull” a short wheelbase 2002 Land Rover Defender 90.
I’ve had the truck for almost a year now and like most old vehicles it needed some TLC. I’ve done some extensive work on it and added a few mods which seems to be an ongoing trend at the moment.
I have always wanted a Land Rover Defender truck but at the time of looking for one, I was searching between Defenders and Land Cruisers but ultimately decided on my dream car and I’ve never looked back since.
One of the main reasons for purchasing the truck was due to the lockdowns. There was the whole travel and hotel facility restriction so the best mod for the truck after purchasing was to make it somewhat comfortable to camp in. Rooftop tents were becoming popular during the first lockdown period so I started researching for one. I saw a few Defenders with RTTs on them but I wanted one with a lower profile, aesthetically suited to the truck and more aerodynamic when driving. And that’s when I found Te Ata Adventure Supply’s Alu One hardshell RTT through a mate who suggested them.
The Alu One RTT is hardshell which means you can install roof racks on top of it. I have 4 racks installed which allows me to place equipment on top like surfboards etc. The RTT opens within seconds and the tent can be set up in under a minute, even in complete darkness. All you have to do is unclip two latches and then push the lid up and let the gas struts do all the work. The mattress inside is pretty amazing too. It has two layers, one layer on the bottom for condensation and the top layer is a nice comfy memory foam mattress. It seems like you can fit three people but comfortably sleeps two adults.
I have added the 270 degree awning and a shower curtain unit, both Te Ata products. The 270 degree awning is a great addition to the RTT and I can’t recommend it enough. I love how it covers one side of the vehicle completely and wraps around the back of the truck to get an almost fully sheltered set up.
Other modifications done to the truck also were – 2inch lift with new suspension, beefy 285/75R16 tyres, all exterior lights and headlights upgraded to LED, new rear chassis which was the most important work done.
Next on the to-do list is getting all the rust fixed and a complete repaint in April/June 2022. Snorkel and sidestep/guards.
I haven’t done anything mechanical to the engine yet but I do have plans for a new heavy duty clutch, slick shift, replace all the hoses and gaskets, install an intercooler, new 3inch straight through exhaust, chip ECU to stage one or two.
Interior will probably be the last thing I get done after the mechanical side has been sorted. There are plans to refit the boot area to be suited for both urban and offroad so I’m planning something that would be more of a concealed look for the off-road equipment.
With every adventure you meet and see other rigs on the road and get inspired about what can be done to the truck next. It’s a never-ending project but I love being able to drive somewhere beautiful and having the option to stay there for the night or two comfortably. It makes the beauty of this ongoing project all worth it.
Check out Fili’s Instagram HERE