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Off the Tar Seal in New Zealand

After discovering an Adventurer 76R slide in camper, Christopher Smith quickly sold his converted bus to explore New Zealand’s natural wonders, gravel roads, and occasional overgrown goat track.

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Even after crossing the United States three times in a truck camper, we have barely scratched the surface of what’s available to see and experience in our own country.  We have yet to really explore New England, have many off-road opportunities beckoning in the Four Corners area, and can hardly wait to see more of California, Oregon, and Washington.  Not to mention that we haven’t visited eastern Canada or explored Nova Scotia.  When we start thinking about it, the opportunity list is nearly endless.  We could probably spend the rest of our lives happily exploring the United States and Canada, never wanting for more.

That said, there’s an undeniable appeal to the rest of our planet.  We would love to go truck camping in England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand.  These countries, and many others, are on our bucket list under the, “Not sure how this would be possible but want to do it anyway” category.  Starting Truck Camper Magazine was once in that category too, so there’s some hope.

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Above: One of Christopher’s calendar contest entries from Lake Tennyson, Central South Island, New Zealand

Last year, Christopher Smith sent us three amazing calendar contest entries from his 2012 New Zealand truck camping trips.  Naturally, we fell head over heels and sent Christopher an email asking for more New Zealand truck camping pictures, and his truck camping adventure stories.

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Above: Catlins area, New Zealand

TCM: Tell us about your truck and how you prepared it for your truck camper.

Chris: Our truck is a standard Ford Ranger XLT with four-wheel drive.  By trade, I am a welder fabricator with a workshop at home.  I made my own side bar and rear bar for tie-down points for the camper.  I also fabricated my own Highfield levers as turnbuckles.  They are quick and easy to use for securing the camper.

TCM: As a welder fabricator, have you made modifications to your Adventurer 76R as well?

Chris: Yes, modifications to the camper have been numerous.  To start, I added a fifty-five liter grey water tank and changed both hatches to Euro-style hatches.  I prefer to not carry the extra weight of the hydraulic jacks, so I made slide-in brackets to easily remove the jacks from the camper.  I have made lots of small adjustments and modifications, all of which make life using the camper easier.

Lake Gunn Fiordland National ParkRoad to Milford SoundMilford Sound with Mitre Peak in background, Chris and Linda

Click on the above pictures to see the captions.

TCM: Truck campers are not common in New Zealand.  What led you to purchase a truck camper?

Chris: Slide in campers are a bit thin on the ground here in New Zealand.  Caravans and motorhomes seem to be more popular.  There have been a couple of New Zealand manufacturers over the years.  I am seeing more of the bigger American campers being imported now though.

When the family was younger we did the tent thing.  Then we progressed to a 6MTR converted bus.  I already had a truck for work.  When the Adventurer slide-in came into my sights, it was a no brainer.  There is no registration here for slide-in campers.  Plus there’s not an extra engine or wheels and tires to maintain.  Once we had the slide-in camper, the bus was quickly sold.

TCM: Was your truck camper available at a dealership, or did you order it sight unseen?

Chris: We bought our camper new in 2007 from a dealership here in Auckland.  I’d had my eye on it for about six months before buying it.  I was making regular trips to the dealer getting him to open it up and I would just sit in it and think how great it would be to have it on our Ute.  This was the only slide on camper he had as he mostly sells fifth wheelers and caravans.

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