Bay Of Plenty DJ and proud father of three young lads, explains the reasons he committed to a 6 metre, 6 berth motorhome. And the Mighty Elf is a bewty!
I’ve traveled extensively both here and abroad so I’ve always had that desire to see what’s over the fence. NZ has some of the most diverse landscapes on the planet and most of them are usually less than a day’s drive away. Being dad to 3 young boys who are very active was really the thing that got me thinking about how do I find an affordable way to expand our adventures.
The mighty Elf was purchased just outside of Katikati in 2018. The previous owners were musicians who frequently traveled around NZ for different gigs. I needed something that would comfortably sleep all of us and provide enough home comforts to ensure that we were all accommodated and Dad didn’t have to sleep outside in a tent!
She’s a 1989 Isuzu Elf truck powered by a 3.6ltr diesel with a manual transmission and power steering. The body is a 1999 Australian manufactured Explorer around 6 mtrs long with dual wheels on the rear axle. One of the attractions was being able to drive it on a car license.
We have solar panels on the roof that feed back to the house batteries and obviously the option to connect to mains power as well as gas heating and hot water. There’s a 3-way fridge/freezer, 4 burner gas hob and full size oven. There’s also satellite TV with an internal DVD player. Movies are popular at night with the boys.
All the boys are avid skaters so we have done quite a few road trips around the Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Greater Auckland areas spending the day traveling from one skate park to another. We have traveled the Coromandel up as far as Waikawau Bay and we are regular visitors down to Ohope. I usually do the school pick up on a Friday and travel straight down to Ohope for 2 nights.
My partner Carleen and I recently traveled around the East Cape working our way from Gisborne up to the Cape then back through the Eastern bay and home. We chose a mixture of powered and unpowered sites along the way. This trip was definitely a highlight since owning the truck.
I’ve managed to get away by myself surfing, mainly the Coromandel as well as traveling to one of NZ’s premier 3 day festivals twice. There is nothing better than coming back to the Elf after a hard days festival slog.
The truck so far hasn’t presented any limitations. There’s been the odd hiccup, running out of cold beverages, noisy neighbours etc… But the boys love it, every part of it. From choosing the destination to the actual drive and the adventures we have when we get to where we are going.
When there are just the 2 of us we have a table and armchairs in the main living area. When the boys are onboard I remove the table and chairs and put in bunks that fit into that space. They took awhile to find but the bunks fit perfectly and are easily removed. I had an inverter with 2 USB ports fitted in the cab; it is really handy for the multitude of devices that we end up with these days.
Also I was lucky enough that my Weber BBQ fit in one of the outside lockers so cooking outdoors under the awning adds to the camping experience.
Traveling with multiple surfboards when we are all onboard can be a challenge. I’m still searching for a rack solution, possibly a vertical rack on the rear of the truck.
Shaun’s 5 tips:
1. Don’t plan your trip too far ahead. Be flexible, not everywhere will work out. Enjoy the journey. There’s always another spot waiting to be discovered if your initial destination doesn’t work out.
2. Get to know your RV. Read the manuals, do your research it will pay off. Look after it and it will look after you.
3. Have a routine/checklist you follow before you leave your nice flat driveway, both internal and external.
4. Secure your awning… nothing worse than having it unfurl while your doing 90kms down the highway.
5. Make sure everyone knows how to empty the toilet cassette. It’s only fair.