Why we chose our Swift Sprite Quattro caravan
Two Kids and a Caravan
We’ve had heaps of people have asked us for feedback on our caravan and why we chose it so here it is.
First up, we are a family of 4 and our caravan is a 2019 Swift Sprite Quattro EW from Nelson Caravans.
Before we purchased the caravan we made a bit of a wish list.
We knew that if it wasn’t easy we wouldn’t use it and our intentions were to get away every second week for 4/5 days (little did we know we’d end up travelling in it full-time).
To make everyday life easy, we wanted beds for everyone as well as a space to sit and eat. We didn’t want to be making up beds every nap time and night or be forced to sit on the bed or outside once the kids went to bed. We wanted a full bathroom (not a combined toilet/shower).
The Swift Sprite Quattro EW (which is a 6-berth caravan) ticked the boxes. It has a full bathroom at the back, French bed for us (double bed with the corner cut off), bunks for the girls (which can fold down into a 2 seater dinette), and wrap around lounge at the front (which can convert to another large queen-sized bed).
You will have heard the rumours that “UK caravans aren’t built strong and aren’t designed for NZ roads” and honestly, every manufacturer has vans that let them down. We’ve travelled in our caravan for almost 4 years and taken it from Christchurch, up to Kaitaia, back down to Bluff and all around the South Island and it’s been perfect for us but here’s a deeper look into our pros and cons so far.
✓ The van is well insulated, so it is far warmer in winter. It also comes standard with a great combined heating/hot water system which can run off 240v or LPG.
✓ Value for money — UK vans are cheaper than their Australian and American counterparts and we don’t feel like we’d get twice the enjoyment from a van twice the price.
✓ Lighter — our van comes in at 1380kg empty (but including fixed weights like the battery and full 9kg gas bottle etc) and fully laden up to 1800kg. (Although each van is different and some of the single axle vans have a smaller payload so it pays to check before you purchase).
✓ We love that it has a large comfy lounge at the front with views to outside. Similar sized Australian vans usually have a small L-shaped dinette because in their warmer climate you spend more of your time outside.
✓ Heaps of storage. When we check out other vans we love how sleek they can look, but our first comment is always “where do you put all your stuff” as they seem to lack overhead cabinets. We’ve heard of people moving from UK to Aus vans and having to donate half their stuff… not that that’s a bad thing.
✓ We can still fit into all campgrounds — while we’d love a big American caravan with all the pop-outs (really an apartment on wheels) it would double the running costs, limit places we can travel due to accessibility, and inhibit our ability to pick up our click and collect groceries on the way through a town and pack them straight into the fridge in the carpark.
✓ We purchased new and our caravan came with a full 3 year warranty as well as a 10 year water ingress warranty; as you might know, most catastrophic caravan issues originate from a water ingress.
✓ As with most new vans, we’ve had to iron out a few niggles and warranty claims and we’ve been impressed with Nelson Caravans’ after-sales service. We’ve heard of a few horror stories in the industry with retailers not wanting to come to the party so, as always, do your research.
✘ They are narrower, so less living space inside, although it makes all the difference when towing it over a narrow bridge with a truck coming the other way.
✘ They’re very low for how long they are and caution needs to be taken coming in and out of driveways, especially supermarkets and fuel stations for some reason. We have scraped our stays quite a few times.
✘ We don’t take it on long gravel or rutted roads. For example we have taken it to Totaranui in the Abel Tasman no problem, but we decided against Moke Lake in the Queenstown district and just did a day trip instead. However in all our travels there’s only been a handful of places we haven’t taken it, and when we’ve visited we’ve seen other UK caravans there so…
✘ We only have a small fridge, however we’ve got so efficient at caravan life, we can still manage two weeks off-grid at a time. Other UK vans have a full fridge but sacrifice the number of beds.
We would still choose it
We’ve been around in circles and if we went through the process again taking into account layout, value for money, how fast we travel, accessibility to campgrounds, cheaper running costs (RUCs and fuel) and our 10 year water ingress warranty we’d still choose the Swift Sprite Quattro EW again.
Our best advice when choosing a caravan is to make a list of your must-haves to make your day to day life easy and enjoyable and consider which aspects you‘re happy to compromise on and then go in search of the right van for you.
P.S This is in no way a dig at any other caravans, we have a real passion for caravans and love looking through them all, it’s just our experience with our van and why it works for our family dynamics.