2016 has been a whirlwind year in so many different ways, and the world of motorhoming hasn’t been exempt from the winds of change. Fortunately, on the motorhoming front at least the changes have been positive, with all sorts of new developments and opportunities cropping up for those who love the flexibility and freedom of holidays on the road.
Taking a glance over the events of the past year, there were a few highlights that stood out above the rest. Have a look below at some of the biggest motorhoming moments of 2016, and a few tantalising glimpses of what’s to come in 2017.
- Proving once and for all that campervans and creativity go together hand in hand, one man’s debut novel written in a campervan was longlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, one of literature’s highest honours. Time for a creative retreat, anyone?
- Staying connected while you’re on the road is a tricky prospect, but those considering a campervan rental in NZ have some potentially good news on this front: the New Zealand Motor Campervan Association (NZMCA) teamed up with Wireless Nation to develop an internet solution specifically for motorhomers on the go. At the moment it’s only available to NZMCA members, but the fact that it exists now is great news for net-hungry holidaymakers.
- Motorhome enthusiasts in Australia and New Zealand got an early Christmas present when the Motorhome Republic Travel mobile app was released in November. This 100% free app gives you constantly updated information on campervan holiday essentials like campgrounds, attractions, petrol stations and even road conditions.
- Mercedes-Benz generated a lot of buzz when it showcased two deluxe campervan models at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf back in August, and while some might balk at the AU$69,990 price tag, there’s no denying that these models are design prodigies.
- Motorhome rental suppliers in New Zealand teamed up with local government in 2016 to crack down on freedom campers who are making camping conditions worse for everyone. In the past, some foreign visitors were opting to just leave the country instead of paying fines for illegal freedom camping - now these fines are being added by suppliers to offender’s credit cards, making New Zealand a better environment for other campers.
- Britain’s oldest motorhome, an octogenarian Pontiac Six with a fascinating backstory, sold for £34,000 this year at the Goodwood Revival. As a bonus for the lucky buyer, the motorhome came with relics of the 1920’s like tins of grapefruit, original cutlery and crockery, and the first owner’s photo album.
- Motorhome Republic debuted a series of free, in-depth motorhome itineraries in 2016, giving campervan travellers the low down on attractions, accommodation, and travel tips for destinations in the US, the UK, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
- Queenstown, New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination, is looking to overhaul its CBD with an eye to making it more campervan friendly. Extra parking specifically for campervans is on the agenda as well as a lot of measures to streamline traffic, making easier for large vehicles to navigate the streets of Queenstown.
- It’s hard to make an impression in the luxury motorhome market, with so many excellent models already out there, but the recently announced Thor Aria took luxury to a whole new level. Not only boasting an indulgent amount of space, but also a 100-watt Solar Charging System that can keep your gadgets going, for those who can afford the six figure pricetag the Aria can be a palace on wheels.
- Most people who’ve searched for motorhome rentals will have come across the name Apollo: this motorhome manufacturer, retailer and rental company kicked off the process to become listed on the Australian Stock Exchange this year; a big step up for this now international grassroots Aussie business.
- Some fortunate Italian families may just find their prayers answered, thanks to Pope Francis dedicating his new motorhome to be used by families who can’t afford to go on a motorhome holiday.
- The dialogue around freedom camping in New Zealand has been a spirited one in 2016, with efforts being made to balance free camping opportunities and protecting the environment for future visitors. Auckland proposed increasing freedom camping sites, while Christchurch tightened their rules around self-contained motorhomes.
Looking ahead to 2017
With tumultuous 2016 all but behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2017, and the exciting opportunities that lie in store for motorhome adventurers around the world.
- Mercedes-Benz showed off its swanky campervan models in Düsseldorf earlier this year, but chances of getting your hands on one of these beauties outside of Europe is currently slim - however, next year the Marco Polo Activity (the more compact of the two acclaimed models showcased this year) will go on sale in Australia. An exact date has not been confirmed yet, but Aussies will have the chance to see these compact luxury campers firsthand sometime in the second half of 2017.
- Icelandair is providing transatlantic travellers with a unique opportunity to discover the incredible attractions of Iceland, with a free stopover scheme for up to 7 days - the perfect opportunity for an adventure in 2017.
- Lonely Planet took a slightly different approach to their Best in Travel 2017 recommendations, highlighting underrated regions with plenty of potential, but little recognition. Some of the highlighted destinations that are motorhome friendly include the wild hills of North Wales, the surf beaches and hiking trails of New Zealand’s Taranaki and the sunny vineyards of South Australia.
What were your amazing motorhoming moments in 2016? We’ve seen some exciting developments this year but are keen to hear what made 2016 great for you, whether that’s a roadtrip highlight, plans for a fresh adventure in the New Year, or some other moment of motorhoming magic. Tell us your story in the comments below!