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NZ’s leading motorhome maker enjoys return to golden age

August 19, 2013

NZ’s leading motorhome manufacturer enjoying a return to the golden age

With baby boomers in the driver’s seat, TRAILlite motorhomes and caravans are enjoying a new golden age, after more than 60 years building New Zealand’s finest quality, luxury “baches on wheels”.

Shaun Newman, TRAILlite general manager, says with the NZ Motorhome Association membership pushing past 40,000, business has never been better.

“Traditionally motorhomes have been thought of as being owned by the ‘grey nomads’; elderly retired couples looking for a fuss-free way to travel,” Newman says.

“But our market is growing and getting younger all the time, as baby boomers start planning their retirement and the younger generation take “mini retirements” rather than saving it all up until they stop working altogether”.

“Our new clientele are more aware of enjoying their leisure time than any generation before them – and they tend to have more disposable income to do it with,” Newman says. “I think this is partly because of the more modern mentality that rather than leave all their hard-earned money to their kids, they are having fun spending it!”

And that’s good news for New Zealand’s luxury motorhome industry, previously hit hard by a flood of imported cheaper motorhomes which left TRAILlite as almost the last man standing in the business. Newman puts TRAILlite’s longevity

down to the company’s commitment to high quality craftsmanship – which stretches all the way back to its origins as a cabinet making business.

“TRAILlite really is about making luxury, high-end motor homes and caravans that have the latest innovations, so we have never tried to compete with cheap, inferior products, which has helped us to stand the test of time,” Newman says. The latest innovation the company has come up with is a hybrid-engine powered motor home due to be finished this year.

The first TRAILlite caravan rolled off the production line in 1954, when caravan holidays had become so popular that the company switched from cabinet making to making quality caravans.

Newman’s father, Peter, was working in the factory 30 years ago when, inspired by the excellence of the caravans being built, he bought the company. Peter still serves the business as managing director.

Shaun Newman says aside from the state of the art features, and handcrafted, high quality production of TRAILlite motorhomes there is a good reason to buy local.

“Most other countries don’t have access to the many low-cost, accessible and stunningly beautiful camping sites that we have in this country,” he says. “That means motorhomes made overseas are not necessarily as self-contained or as well set up for the conditions here as those built in New Zealand. TRAILlite motorhomes start at $128,000 for van based products and go up to around $340,000.

“What may seem like small differences can make a huge difference to your experience. Our motorhomes come with features such as solar panels, large fridge-freezers, and decent waste and fresh water storage and the luxurious interiors are honestly second-to-none.

“It all means you can be self-contained for much longer periods, without having to rush back to civilisation frequently to re-stock or plug in,” he says. “In fact, most people don’t want to go back to civilisation at all once they have had the TRAILlite experience!”


• Kiwi made since 1954, the first TRAILlite caravan rolled off the production line and was an instant hit

• 2014 will see TRAILlite celebrate sixty years in the New Zealand caravan/campervan industry

• TRAILlite began life as a humble cabinetmaker’s factory before the team saw an opportunity to exploit the booming 1950s caravan hype

• A family run business from the 1950s to present day TRAILlite is New Zealand's leading and oldest motorhome manufacturer

• TRAILlite boasts 24 different models with 2 specification levels

• TRAILlite has an 80% market share in large, luxury models

• A market leader, with over 10,000 caravans manufactured throughout New Zealand each year in the 1970s

• TRAILlite builds around 50 motorhomes every year, and boasts a 38% increase in sales for the last financial year

• Prices range from $127,000 for a van based motorhome to $350,000 for our flagship models

• TRAILlite is committed to providing Kiwis with a lifestyle – it doesn’t just create motorhomes, it creates dream lifestyles

• Each motorhome is fully self-contained with up for 575L of fresh water and high tech battery and solar charging systems

• Constant innovators, TRAILlite searches the globe for new trends and invests heavily in research and development to create new and exciting products, and this year it will roll out one of the world’s first hybrid-engine powered motorhomes.

• Every TRAILlite team member is handpicked to ensure that only the best is employed. There are 39 full time craftsmen and each one understands that TRAIL lite’s reputation and promise to make lifestyle dreams a reality means no compromising in excellence

• The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has been growing at around 10% per annum and now has over 48,000 members. In 2011 NZMCA members spent $110 million dollars while travelling across New Zealand. Much of that in small towns and communities that don’t see a lot of tourists

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