In everyway Nick Brown-Hysom, Tasha Gray and their kids, Liv and Jess sum up what the Recreational Society is all about. Yeah yeah we know, that gets written for just about every intro, but it’s true and what the inclusiveness of Recreational Society is all about. They have created a multi-use vehicle that’s a day runner and a great camper.
Nick; We purchased the 2017 4wd VW Multivan 2 years ago after researching campervans for a couple of years prior. Both of our daughters, Liv 16, and Jess 14, have been getting into surfing and we have been attending junior comps all around the country and needed a vehicle that we could fit everything in and we could also stay in. We eventually went for the Multivan for driveability (it drives like a really nice car!) and flexibility in that we often use it as a minibus as well as a camper.
Multivans as campers are a big deal in Europe and Oz with multiple distributors selling customised accessories to allow for weekend conversion but the bits are quite hard to source here. Check out this Aussie site where we got some of our ideas from. https://vanessa-mobilcamping.com.au/multivan.
Tasha; We wanted a van/camper that could go OK on rough tracks. The VW we have is a 4 wheel drive, which means that it can cope with a bit of mud or non ideal road conditions. This means we can get round the rocks at Shippies or down to the river at my family’s farm.
We do a lot of transporting of teenagers around and I love that it can convert from a lounge set up in the back to a typical mini van seating set up. I’m off to pick up 5 teenagers from Henderson right now!
Tasha: Our cooking set up is not in the van, we set it up outside. We do have a gas cooker on a stand. We use a chilly bin and our cooking box is packed with essential tools. We love cast iron, our favourites being: the hot plate, a frying pan with a fold-in handle and a panini toastie grill. I am always on the look out for good additions to the box.
Nick; The 3 main permanent camping alterations are the Feldon Shelter extended roof tent, an Adventure Kings 3 x 3m awning and a custom ply storage box/bed extension which allows for a queen size inflatable mattress in the back when the rear set is folded flat.
We have refined our cooking set-up to a two burner LPG gas cooker, a box of utensils and we customised the ply box to fit a sizable esky.
The length of the roof, and four bar roof rack means we can also fit the boards on the roof in front of the roof tent.
Where does the whole family sleep, is there a fight over who gets to sleep in the roof tent?
We can sleep two up and two down in the van if the weather is bad, but we also have a Quechua pop-up tent that the girls often will sleep in, it takes less than 5 minutes to put up. We can highly recommend these. There is no fight to sleep in the roof tent because Mum and Dad are in there no doubt! My back is not good and my favourite thing about the Feldon is the high quality of the mattress.
Do you normally stay at commercial campgrounds or mix it up?
We do mix it up. Our first mission was to Shippies (the intro pic) and we survived just fine for 3 days around the corner (we take a chemical toilet). But when we go to a comp we do often stay in the local campground which means we can clear the van out and set it up as a lounge to hang out in during the day – it has a permanent collapsible table as standard that runs on the seat rails.
In January you did a big South Island mission, where’d you go, for how long and apart from a National Title what was the camping highlight?
We had a wonderful 3 weeks in the South Island over Christmas. The camping highlight was staying on private land at the mouth of the Fox River with Nolan Hungerford and Donna Henderson and their surfing whanau. None of us had spent any time on the West Coast of the South Island before and we were blown away with the beauty, we had super fun waves with only the two families out and were staying right on the water.
What would you change?
Nick: The van has been fantastic. I don’t think we would change too much because it has met so many of our needs; in saying that there are a couple of comments from my point of view. One of the best parts of the multivan is how easy it is to move the seats and table around, this is because of the length of the van slots in the floor in which these sit; unfortunately these slots eat sand, and the wheels on the bottom of the seats and table aren’t made for sand, more for European conditions, they need regular lubrication and cleaning. It’s a small thing, but if you are a family who is gonna be chugging sand in and out it’s worth considering. If we did it again, I’d probably look harder at the longer wheel-base Caravelle which sets up the seats differently.
As an improvement we are yet to source a house battery, I think there are a couple of Waeco models that just plug into one of the many 12 volt slots and could easily fit behind the middle row of seats. This would give us more juice when parked at the beach.
Another improvement would be a wetbox probably loaded on to a bike rack on the boot.
Nick and Tasha’s Hacks
1. We take a folded flat step ladder with us, this is indispensable for us with the height of the van’s roof for the roof-tent and for packing boards.
2. For ground cover we use drainage permacloth (black), it brushes off really well and doesn’t hold moisture, for around the boot and under the awning. We always have a couple of big sheets on board and if it gets too manky we just cut another bit off the big roll we keep at home.
3. We take Tash. Seriously she makes silk purses out of sow’s ears when we are running out of food. It’s amazing what comes off that cooker.
4. Our back storage box was built to the size of the equipment we knew we would be putting in it (good quality chilly bin, food box, cooker).
5. I love flexi tubs and we take a stack of 4-5 away with us on trips. They end up getting used for wet wetsuits, clothing, and storing spare gear.