Otago’s Simon Dickie and Christy Prior are pretty much the epitome of what the Recreational Society is all about. Si is well known throughout the NZ surf community and worked for a long time in that industry before picking up the tools to become a builder. Christy… well Christy happens to be one of our best snowboarders Ever. She is a former Olympian, X-Games, World Games and Burton Open medallist. Christy explains their van set up….
We bought the van in 2018. We flew up to Auckland, threw a mattress that was destined for the tip in the back and drove it back down to Dunedin. It was supposed to be two week surf trip at the same time but we got completely skunked on swell – only to travel all the way back home to find waves. Don’t worry, we paid our dues and have lucked out on every other trip since, worth it.
We knew we wanted a Hiace. We like them. For starters, we wanted a small van that also dubbed as a work van for Si, who is a builder, with intentions of slowly upgrading our way up the van chain to something more spacious. To be honest, we just love the humbleness off something small and compact! A pop-top roof would be ideal though…
Si did the base fit out right away with left over ply, built a platform for the bed with enough space underneath for pull out draw for his tools (also dubbing as the wetsuit and cooker storage on camping trips) and on the other side a space to store the shortboards that we lined with squares of sticky backed carpet.
We opted for the ‘kitchen’ bench to block off one of the doors to create more space for inside chilling, ideal for winter surf trips or bad weather. I found a ‘reduced to clear’ kit-set cupboard with doors and 3 draws from the hardware store and Si cut them down to a nice van size. We got a simple bamboo counter top and bob’s ya uncle.
To allow more space in the ‘lounge’ we made the bed base shorter, the queen mattress was too big so we had to switch the mattress out for a foamy… No way near as lush! I had the idea of cutting the old, spring filled queen mattress down. No-one really thought that was a good idea but I googled up a storm and Si was down to give it a crack! It worked! We followed some steps but mainly just used a bit of kiwi ingenuity. It isn’t the prettiest finish but it’s functional and once a bottom sheet is thrown over, you’re none the wiser! Apart from Si, who sleeps on a slight angle but lucky for us – I’m short and there is plenty of room spare on my side. Haha.
This held things down enough for weekend missions away but once our annual 1 month North Island trip started to draw closer we had a couple of things to get sorted. As we would just throw a back pack in for clothes etc for smaller trips, it was a little niggly with them congregating on the ‘living room’ floor, so we had to come up with some more easy access storage options that didn’t encroach on space or window so I sketched up some concept designs.
– Cupboards. Undies, socks, swimwear easy access on top and slide open doors for the small amount of clothes we take away. We do have a storage spot below for warmer layers should we need them.
– Shelf above cabinet for sun screens, tea, spices, powders and potions and one behind the ‘splash back’ for tooth brushes, soap, cutlery, utensils, etc. There is also a little ‘book self’ at the back.
– Material fruit and veggie storage on the back with ventilation so they don’t sweat and rot + hooks for skateboards.
– Mosaic splash back, because why not.
We also just recently fitted some inside soft racks on the roof – for extra surf board storage…
We have a couple of different shaped pillows that work as floor pillows and the dog kindly lends us her bed as a floor mat. The passenger seat also folds down if we really want to open her up. We love it. It’s cosy but spacious and just what we like!
We went with this layout as we love a permanent bed in a camper, not down on making it and un making it everyday to have seating and a table etc. We choose to have it in the back, it is also so nice to lay in it with the boot open and watch the waves/sunset/sunrise etc. We have no problem living without a table. We are floor dwellers at the best of times and quite happy enjoying a meal with out plates on out laps gazing at the sights!
We are self contained. We ordered a kit set sink and pipes online and Si put his plumbing skills to use. The toilet tucks under the bed and accessible from the inside for times when there are no public toilets – or you are stuck in line at the ferry terminal waiting to board the ship…
We love the layout and storage options but most of all we love how many surfboards we can take away with us! 2 short boards, 2 fishs, 2 mid lengths, 2 longboards.. .just how we like it, haha. It just works for our lifestyle!
Christy regularly posts roadtrips on her Instagram, follow her HERE