New Zealand Splittie Campervan, re-visited!

31 01 2015

A friend just returned from a four-week-trip to New Zealand and sent me photos of this beautiful T1 split window campervan. He spotted it this January 2015 in Kerikeri on the North Island. Turns out I had spotted the very same bus in Feb 2012 during our parental leave in New Zealand as well – small world! Here is a link to the older post with some more information on this bus and also more photos. Just re-traced that this bus is one of the kombis you can rent from Kiwi Kombis. Some more detail on their web page: It is called Van Five aka ‘Coffee ‘n’ Cream’ and it is a 1962 Custom Westfalia with the 1.6Litre motor. Nice to see it is still up and going! Many thanks to Gernot for the photos!

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New Video for Bright Blue World

1 03 2013

There is a new video of Courtney Leigh Heins on Youtube, performing one of the songs from her new album for the Park City TV from the Sundance Film Festival last month. Our New Zealand kombi cover photo gets some nice screen time as well, but mainly it’s a great song. So here is some more promotion, from the proud photographer, for the new album. Go and have a look!

Screen shot taken from Courtney’s video by Park City TV, Sundance Film Festival 2013 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI8o11dzADE)

Screen shot taken from Courtney’s video by Park City TV, Sundance Film Festival 2013 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI8o11dzADE)





Our New Zealand Camper on a CD Cover!

25 02 2013

One of our photos from last year’s trip through New Zealand has just made it onto a CD cover! The bright blue campervan “Number 5” from Classic Campers now graces the cover of the new CD “Bright Blue World” by Courtney Leigh Heins, a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. Courtney found the photo on my Flickr photo stream, fell in love with it and asked me whether she could use it for the cover, which I gladly agreed to.
The kombi, a 1975 late bay Devon camper, was parked on a rest site along the Summit Road on the Akaroa peninsula on the South island, overlooking the bay formed by an old volcanic crater. Here is the link to the Akaroa blog post and to the complete New Zealand road trip. The original photo is from the NZ album on my Flickr photo stream. Check out Courtney’s new CD – great music! You can find a video of one of the songs on the CD, “We were young”, on YouTube.

Now Courtney generously sent me several CDs and I’d like to give five away to readers of Campervancrazy. If you’d like a copy, please say so in the comments below!

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Kiwi Kombis – Another NZ Rental Company

9 05 2012

When you are a kombi nerd and plan your visit to New Zealand, there is a second rental company that will provide you with a proper Volkswagen campervan: In addition to Classic Campers in Auckland which we rented our 1975 T2b Campervan from in February, there is Kiwi Kombis, also based in Auckland. We met a British couple in Akaroa with a T2b campervan which was Van Nine from Kiwi Kombis. We realized later that we had already bumped into one of their vehicles, a beautiful 1962 T1 campervan which I blogged about in Feb and which later turned out to be their Van Five, called ‘Coffee ‘n’ Cream’. For their fleet of beautiful buses (5 T1s and 4 T2s), check out www.kiwikombis.com. As I understand, with both companies you can also pick up their buses in Christchurch and drive them up to Auckland. If you are still open whether you want tour NZ from Auckland to Christchurch or the other way around, it makes sense to contact these two companies. Most likely there will be better deals where they give you a bus a little cheaper because you transfer it in a direction that fits with their planning.





Another Cool Unimog Camper Truck

29 04 2012

The second diversion from the Volkswagen kombi theme in favor of the Unimog: We spotted this monster on a caravan park in Reefton, on the way to Greymouth on the New Zealand South Island in February 2012. The registration sticker says it’s a 1995 Mercedes Benz Unimog 418/20 Motor Caravan. So it’s about 30 years younger than the amazing Unimog 406 camper truck I had blogged about in January. The stickers on the side say the conversion was done by Hartmann Spezialkarossen (from Alsfeld, Germany) and the engine modified by TSC Tuning (probably also from Germany). I still like the older Unimogs better, but this is an impressive expedition truck. There are some more photos in this  Flickr photo album.





Like Father, Like Daughter

27 03 2012

Catch them while they are young! Happy older kombi fanatic with happy young VW fan. Photo taken some two months ago in Wellington, New Zealand. Greetings to Nicole – your lovely baby shoes in action!





Travelling with a baby in a campervan

17 03 2012

We are back in Berlin, after three months of travelling in Australia and New Zealand. All made possible by the generous German parental leave laws and our gorgeous baby daughter who was three months old when we started and has now just turned 6 months. To make the trip a bit easier for her, we had split the flights from Germany to Australia with a two-day stopover in Singapore on both ways. In total we travelled about 41.000 km: 500 km by rental car and train from Berlin to Frankfurt, with a stopover in Marburg to drop off our doggy and say good bye to the grand parents. Then 10.250 km in an Airbus A380-800 to Singapore, a further 6.000 km in a Boing 777-300 to Melbourne, later 2.600 km from Melbourne to Auckland, 2.400 km in a campervan in New Zealand, 2.400 km from Christchurch back to Melbourne and 16.750 km for the return trip from Melbourne via Singapore, Frankfurt and Marburg to Berlin. 41.000 km is about the distance once around the world, so New Zealand really seems to be at the other end of the world from a German point of view (also 12 hours time difference).
Now here are a few afterthoughts about our campervan trip through New Zealand: Our rental van, a 1975 Devon camper conversion from Classic Campers, came with the standard 1600 cc boxer engine, upgraded with an electronic ignition kit. The average fuel consumption over 2400 km was 12.7 L/100km (18.5 mpg), and we needed to refill only about 0.75L of oil (20W-50). I guess these are pretty good values for such an old engine. Below is a snapshot of the little motor. Based on the VW engine letter code AE, VW built this engine into kombis only in 1971. So it seems the original motor of our 1975 bus was at some point replaced by this AE motor. Below is also a snapshot of the beautifully minimalistic dashboard of this right hand drive T2b bus.

Our campervan and our route through the North and South Island of New Zealand.

The air-cooled 1600 cc flat four boxer engine of our van (AE motor).

Minimalistic dashboard of a 1975 VW campervan.

Travelling with a baby turned out to be more challenging than we had expected. My wife and I have been travelling in a similar VW bus for eleven years, but putting a baby in the equation made everything a bit more difficult. Admittedly, this is certainly also true for our life at home in Berlin, now with a baby. In the bus it took us some days to develop our daily routines around the little one. The driving itself was good when we timed our start with the end of her first playing phase and the beginning of her first nap. The baby capsule we got from Classic Campers was attached to the back bench via a base fixed with a 2-point-safety belt and worked well. Travelling with the baby just meant later starts in the morning, more breaks along the way for playing and feeding, and occasionally one of us travelling in the back to entertain her during longer drives. Obviously there is no separate bed room where we could put her asleep in the evening. We solved this after a few days by placing her bed onto the central kitchen block and securing it with elastic straps to the ceiling. We then built a tent-like structure around it, either from two large towels or an extra blanket, which provided her with some darkness while we had the rest of the evening for ourselves.

Baby bed on kitchen block, fixed to the roof.

Baby bed wrapped up in mosquito netting and with towels arranged around it to keep the light out in the evening.

In retrospect, a wider bed would have been nice because the mornings usually started with the little one waking up early and having some play time with us in bed. In this particular campervan conversion, the bed was narrowed by the sink unit. The next project with Taiga Lily, our bus in Berlin, will be to fit in a similar rock-and-roll bench/bed combination and I will make sure it will span the complete width of the bus. Now it is time to get back to everyday life in Berlin – with getting back to work next Monday (though only part time till our daughter will be one, in September), and with getting back to our bus, Taiga Lily, and the next steps towards making her a functional camping vehicle.