Holiday time to turn turtle

Owner Graham Jones in “Mavis” at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Julie Feisst-Jones

By Danielle Zollickhofer

Wintec Journalism Student

Kiwis are becoming first-time motorhome holiday makers as they take the seats of international tourists.

Cambridge-based Jones Motorhomes says the loss of international tourists has been partially compensated for by a lift in domestic tourists.

“Due to Covid we lost all our international bookings, but we have back to back bookings since the beginning of June as a lot of locals want to see New Zealand,” owner Julie Feisst-Jones says.

“You are so flexible with a campervan. It’s like a turtle – you can travel with a home on your back.”

In 2019 one of the company motorhomes was booked three times by domestic clients – this year over the same school holidays period, there were 10 domestic bookings for three motorhomes.

The couple entered the motorhome business two and a half years ago after deciding to upgrade their campervan “Myrtle”. The only way to upgrade was to have an income.

They started off with a four-berth motorhome named Nigel. Just before Covid hit, a two and six berth motorhome – Mavis and Stan – joined the pet-friendly family.

“We have lots of people travelling with dogs, and at the moment we have someone travelling with a Maine Coon cat,” Julie said.

The campers have included a lot of first-time motorhome users.

“You are so flexible with a campervan. It’s like a turtle – you can travel with a home on your back.”

She said campervan holiday makers tended to head for smaller venues rather than the big cities, and in doing so benefitted those hit by Covid. Most of their customers had North Island destinations but there were also a couple of trips to Queenstown and Invercargill.

“Going on holiday supports the local economy,” Julie said.

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