From what we saw on the stands there are a few possibilities to explore:
Smart Motorhome and Caravan Sales has in it's Bürstner catalogue a 7-berth caravan (Aversio Plus 510 TK) that they could order in from Germany; UCC Motorhomes have a Benmore motorhome with 7 seatbelts that could sleep 7 at a pinch although it is certified as self-contained for 6 and Sun Marketing were there with their Rockwood 5th-wheelers too.
The Aversio Plus 510 TK comes with a full awning (not just a sunshade) and can be towed on a regular car license. The interior looks very sleek and pleasing from the pictures.
Our van doesn't have a towball and is limited in what it would be able to tow to between 1500 and 2000 kg, but the idea of pairing a caravan with a motorhome would take care of that, and give a second 'living' space.
I totally loved the idea that we could have bought this in Germany, travelled around in it and then bought it back to New Zealand, albeit getting things the wrong way around - seeing the world before we've seen the country!
The Benmore Motorhome from UCC, was simple and very sensibly laid out with a u-shaped sitting space at the rear, and face to face banquet seats in the front. It reminded me of Bauhaus modernism - where function and form intersect. This vehicle would totally rock for 2-3 couples going away for the weekend; and would be a great day-living environment and evening sleeping spot for us parents and Vega, but we'd still need something for the younger 4. Again the motorhome - caravan combo would probably work. It's weight at approx 4 tonne would make it borderline though for towing, if you factor a caravan of around 1.5 tonne and then passengers and 'stuff'.
What we did learn is that with the demise of a major motorhome rental firm, UCC were buying back 10 of the vehicles they supplied - all 3.9l turbo manual (apparently the best engine over any subsequent builds). As they were for the rental market they only have a half oven, fluoro lighting not led, a small fridge and no solar though.
The Rockwood caravans were the first hint that we could go on the road as a family and enjoy S-P-A-C-E. With several slide-outs the kitchen, dining, living room turned into a little open-plan apartment. I could imagine the children playing with lego on the floor, doing their school work at the table, someone in the kitchen and even dad on the laptop on the coach - all together. The master bedroom could possibly be converted into a bunkroom instead, but oh, the upholstery! It's not just this brand either, it's an observation of many of the US mobile homes - they are colonial, brown and stuck in the 70's - no grey's here folks. They weigh in at the heavier end of the scales at 3.5 tonne gross laden weight. You'd need a Class 2 license to drive these babies. We picked up a brochure for their Windjammer and Signature range too.
Other units worth noting were the United Campervan's 2007 Fuso Canter 6 berth. Another that has seatbelts for 7 and perhaps could sleep 7 in a squeeze. The positive about the safety belts is that they are all backward or forward facing - 6x3-point and 1xlap-belt. None were sideways unlike the Benmore. This apparently is a consideration if you have children as you don't want them in lap-belts sitting sideways - they are just not that secure. Fitting an additional lap-belt comes at a cost of $1200. No advice was given on being able to fit extra 3-point belts. The Kea Odyssey was similar to the Benmore layout except it had 4 inward-facing table seats in the front section making it a compromise between the Benmore and the Fuso Canter.
One of the caravans stood out for it's design and presentation, and that was Juergen Australia's J2605. It's kitchen benches were deep and up-market-looking. The u-shaped seating area (called a 'club lounge' - like it!) was tastefully upholstered. The bathroom was through the master bedroom but was the first we'd seen with an across-the-back span. The bed was weird though - shaped and set at an angle. I think I would have liked mine straight.
Another brand that looked quite good, but of which none were on show, is the Bailey's Ranger series ex England (RnRV) We haven't really looked into them extensively but at a quick glance the brand has one ( 2010 GT60 540) that is a triple bunk and dinette area that can be closed off at one end, and may sleep all 5 children. The u-shaped seating at the other end would need to be converted each night. Another, the Bailey Olympus 2 630-6 was recommended by Country Caravans and Motorhomes.
Of course, if you start thinking about combinations of motorhome and caravan there were many many possible contenders. We didn't get too carried away with studying the 4-berth units, as our original focus was to research the possibility of a single living home on wheels.
Another thing to note is that most if not all of the retailers of imported vehicles would not make any modifications to the vehicle, whereas the NZ manufacturers (and even the Australian one) would customise to suit.
We found there was a wide range of finishes, materials, appliances, and features in general. It would be easy to get blinded by the bling if you didn't have a needs list first.
The positive thing about the show was being able to see all this first hand. To open the cupboards and drawers, look at the bathroom layouts, stand in the spaces, and talk through the pro's and con's of each motorhome/caravan on the spot, together.
There were some really helpful individuals at the show, that I would like to thank publicly:
John from Smart Motorhomes and Caravans. I loved your can-do attitude and enthusiasm. Your suggestion to tour Germany and then bring the unit back is like dangling a carrot before me.
Fridgetech Marine and Outdoors for his gas/solar/electricity recommendations. They have some beautiful looking marine ovens.
Dometic Group for the great advice of starting with the end in mind, and showing us the possibilities with fridges and freezers.
Russell from Canoe & Kayak for his honest advice regarding inflatable vs plastic and fibreglass kayaks.
Trailite were giving away their "Buyers Guide to Motorhome Purchase' which would be a good starting discussion paper.
The lovely young lady from Jayco, who saw me with an overtired, inconsolable baby and took the effort to come to us and give him a little blue-jay soft toy, which wouldn't you know did just the trick. He can now say "J-J"!
Gallivanting Oz for their informative presentation about camping around Australia. I hadn't really thought too positively about the possibility and your talk opened me up to consider it sometime.
Greg from Reflex, who had their Vetroresina Fibreglass Sheet for sale. This product is used for constructing and lining trailers, buses, anything you like. It was the first time that I had seen that all a trailer is, is marine ply wedged between fibreglass.
I liked the look of the following products :
Go Pro (adventure) Hero 3 Black edition camera was also at the show. Wow, these look so cool. I can just imagine the children making action movies on the playground equipment, as we are driving, of each other and so much more! The hard bit would be all the post-production editing but perhaps we can teach them to do that too?!
King Water Saver, that redirects the cold water from the hot pipe that you'd usually waste down the sink before the hot water comes in, back to the source.
Aqua Ezi Fill, which is a fitting that locks onto your water inlet enabling you to snap a garden hose onto it rather than shoving the hose down into the opening and risking contamination. Who knows where the hose has been!
Separett, waterless toilet. I have seen these before but didn't know anyone imported them into NZ.