The explosion of people buying motorhomes and joining the NZMCA has brought with it a parallel rise in the number of makes and models of motorhomes being offered for sale. There are brands for sale in New Zealand now that where completely unheard of just a few years ago. Plus there are still new brands being launched into the market on a regular basis.
One of the things I found really interesting when Sarah and I started looking at replacing our motorhome in 2017 is just how many of these vans are now available with a price tag in excess of $250,000. I thought it would make a very interesting blog to look at what’s on offer in the market. Starting with the European manufactures I have chosen to list the models in alphabetical order.
Carthago S Plus
First stop was RnRV in Silverdale Auckland to catch up with Paul and his team to view what is the most expensive motorhome on this list @$394,990 which brings the obvious question, what do I get for my money? This is actually not such a hard question to answer once you get talking to Paul sitting inside this luxurious motorhome.
First and most importantly the construction methods employed by Carthago are completely different to those used in cheaper motorhomes. The walls of the motorhome are double skinned aluminium with no wood at all used in the construction so if in the unlikely event it developed an undetected water leak there is no wood to rot. This construction process also makes for a stronger body meaning that the joinery is not being used to strengthen it. This then means that the rattles and squeaks you associate with motorhomes are a thing of the past here.
Once Paul had finished explaining about the body he gave me a tour of the inside pointing out the extra touches that make this motorhome stand out from it’s competitors. It’s so many little things that add up to make one huge difference over the lessor vans. The quality of fixtures and fittings is just that next level.
Sitting down in the amazing lounge area, where you could easily have 6 of you sitting around the table relaxing in the ultra comfortable leather seats I asked Paul why only a two berth. His response was “It’s more the point that the person who buys this Carthago, may not feel the need to have anyone else ‘sleep’ in the motorhome with them, though entertaining would be a pleasure.” Plus not having the extra bed allows for more storage with additional cupboards, extra headroom and a second skylight in the lounge boosting natural light.
All in all they say you get what you pay for and that’s certainly the case here. Even if it does seem like an eye watering amount to most of us.
Frankia 7900GD and i8400QD Platin
With prices starting at $285,000 for the 7900 and $295,000 for the 8400 the Frankia motorhomes represent the top of the line build on a Mercedes chassis and are available from Zion Motorhomes in Pokeno, South Auckland. Like a lot of vehicles when you get to this end of the price range a lot of people order a vehicle to their specifications however Jonas also likes to keep some in stock so if you are happy with the configuration there is no waiting.
Sitting in the i8400 it feels wider than the models built on the Fiat chassis this is however just an optical illusion so really it’s just the clever use of the available space. It’s notable that the floor is flat from the front seats to the back of the van rather than the hump found in the Fiat models.
The kitchen in this motorhome is one to be envied with a much larger work surface than others. The removable covers allow you to access the extra gas burner, sink and rubbish bin. It also has a really usable oven underneath the hobs making cooking in this much easier than some of the others.
You can turn on the air conditioning which is standard with this motorhome but also very unobtrusive inside. The way the inverter works in the Frankia you can one of the lithium house batteries whilst charging the other and then swap over, very handy! Frankia as a brand have a strong following in New Zealand and this van is a true representation of their best.
Hymer Starline B680 and B690
The top of the line model from the Erwin Hymer group in Germany and represented in New Zealand in Auckland at Smart RV. The B680 is on display at the Auckland branch, or you can order either model from their branch in Christchurch. At $259,000 it’s one of the cheapest motorhomes on the list but no lessor quality than others here.
Full leather seating in the lounge area give the feeling of luxury that you would expect from a motorhome of this quality. The large table means that you could entertain up to 6 people inside without having to worry about peoples plates or glasses falling of the table.
The kitchen is a little on the compact side but when you are comparing this motorhome with others that are almost a metre longer you have to make compromises somewhere. The space however is very usable with the removable cover over the sink creating a large work bench.
Again due to the slightly shorter nature of this van the bed extends to it’s full length when needed, otherwise it slides back to create a very comfortable chaise longue. You can also order this model with the twin single beds.
Hymer DuoMobil 634
Technically this motorhome is $10 short of my cut off with a list price of $249,990 but who’s counting. Also available from Smart RV in Auckland and Christchurch this motorhome is a little different from the others listed here.
What makes this one different is the set up, all the other motorhomes offered here all have a front lounge with rear bed. This Hymer is built specifically to maximise space for two occupants. The lounge moves to the rear with a really nice U shaped leather seating area. Should you need it you can easily convert this lounge area to a double bed. There are also hidden away 2 extra seat belts in the rear giving you the capacity to carry and sleep four. The main bed then moves to the front with a queensize that drops down above the two front seats and hides away during the day.
This arrangement allows for a really decent kitchen bench area. In fact I would suggest that this Hymer actually has the largest kitchen bench of any motorhome featured here. As you can also see from the above photos there is plenty of under bench storage.
With the bathroom and separate shower towards the front of the motorhome you really do almost have a small apartment on wheels with this model
Unlike all the other motorhomes on this list this is the only one with fixed front seats because they don’t form part of the lounge they don’t rotate to the rear and as such you don’t have to readjust them every time you climb back in to drive.
If there only ever going to be two of you I would suggest that this motorhome would be one worth strongly considering.
The only motorhome on this list not being sold by a company in the North Island this vehicle is represented in New Zealand by DeLuxe Group in Blenheim and at $259,990 is the third cheapest on this list. It’s also the only motorhome on this list that is manufactured in France with all the others being German.
The French have a different way of making this a very special motorhome the attention to detail in all the small areas make it seem quite different from it’s German competitors. Small touches like the insulated water tanks and the contrasting stitching in the seats are just a couple of examples of what’s different here.
This motorhome is manufactured by the Pilote company also represented in New Zealand by the DeLuxe Group. But the Voyageur will always be something special with only just over 300 to be produced for worldwide sales in any one year. Your chance to have a bit of French flair!
MORELO Home 82LS and 82M
With a list price of $365,000 these are the only motorhomes on this list that have the habitation door on the left hand side. the designation LS or M designates either twin singles or double bed. MORELO (the company name is written in capitals) are the second of three manufacturers on this list represented by Jonas Ng and his team at Zion Motorhomes in Pokeno. Unlike the other brands the two motorhomes listed here are the cheapest offered by the brand.
MORELO offer models up to 11.8 metres in length that have room for a car inside the garage and a price in excess of $750,000. Jonas tells me that he is still waiting to take the first order for one of these. I must say this would take the “toad” to a whole new level.
The dash and driving position have been completely designed with the driver in mind and is custom built for each model. You sit high with great visability
Sitting inside the MORELO the quality of construction is obvious and the extra width in this motorhome really gives a feeling of space in the lounge area. Like the Carthago the standard version of this van is a 2 berth so the extra headroom above the driver also adds to the overall spaciousness. You can however without additional cost add another bed above the two front seats.The seats are covered in a very soft but hard wearing leather and of course you can order to your own colour style as needed.
Added touches like the massive extractor fan over the kitchen bench and the removable steering wheel to give greater space behind the drivers seat are things you simply don’t find in cheaper motorhomes.
A really nice touch is the wall and roof covering almost like a carpet to cover all surfaces adding both an insulation layer as well as sound reduction whilst driving. This continues right through the van into the bedroom. Where you can either have the twin singles as shown or opt for a fixed queen bed.
Niesmann + Bischoff Arto 78F plus the 88f and 88E
Last but not least on this list is Niesmann + Bischoff the third brand represented by Zion Motorhomes in Pokeno, Auckland. With the 78F starting at $269,000 and the 88F at $289,000.
I asked Jonas what makes these motorhomes special and worth so much more than the other Fiat based motorhomes. To answer he spoke of the quality of construction the attention to detail that just lifts them well beyond the average. In fact a check of the website talks about how the rigidity of the body is paramount to the builder leading to a smaller habitation door which creates less flex in the body hence less rattles.
Like all of these motorhomes you can have the choice of twin singles or a fixed queen bed in the rear. I especially like the heated towel rail in the bathroom of this model.
A sign of the quality of construction is evident it the rear garage where the door is supported by strong gas stays and the whole area including the door is carpet lined.
Perhaps one of the less well known brands never destined for huge sales here in NZ but one that fits really well into this market with a quality product well worth checking out.
There are two other models knocking on the door of the $250,000 mark with the Dethleffs Globetrotter also from Zion Motorhomes and the Burstner Elegance from Smart RV (not pictured) both listed in the late $240,000’s. The Globetrotter and Elegance motorhomes are the top of the range offered by their manufacturer’s so if you have a physiological barrier at $250K then these would be well worth checking out.
With total sales for all of these motorhomes adding up to less than 25 units in a year it is never going to be a huge segment of the market. What it is though is the pinnacle of what is on offer here in the New Zealand market at least within the Euro segment. Some of you might be wondering what about the non Euro brands and it is my intention to cover these in another blog soon.
In summing up I realise that a lot of people reading this will look at the figures involved and think as I once did. Why on earth would you spend that much on a motorhome? But what you come to realise once you get out on the road meeting people is that a lot of people live full time in their motorhomes and if you compare even the cheapest one on this list it’s still only one quarter of what you would spend buying a house in New Zealand’s largest city. Maybe not such a bad deal after all.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
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