Cruising A Lifetime

Pam and Mike Carter did some thorough research before taking delivery of their Bürstner Lyseo TD 744 in July 2022. Penny Lewis caught up with the couple to find out more.

Pam and Mike Carter’s story goes back to 1985, when they first hired a motorhome as an economical way to travel in Australia from Sydney to the Gold Coast with their children Christine and Mark. The couple found they enjoyed the freedom and convenience that travelling in a motorhome provides. “It was so easy to say, ‘gosh this looks nice, let’s just stop here’, and you could just stop; or, ‘gee I’m hungry’, and you could just pull over at the nearest stop and eat straight away without having to go and buy something,” Pam recalls. “You didn’t have to unpack your bags into motels every night,” Mike adds. “You just packed and unpacked once, and if you wanted to use the bathroom, you didn’t have to go and find one.”

Mike and Pam loved the Galapagos Islands

The Carters, who live in Titirangi in west Auckland, both camped as children themselves, and were big fans of camping holidays when their own children were young. They often headed away from the crowds in their old Mazda, packed to the gunnels with camping gear, to enjoy idyllic Kiwi summers. “We went as far north as we could each summer and ended up at Matai Bay with other families. We all dived and lived off the sea,” Pam says.

Three years after their Australian holiday with kids Christine and Mark, Pam and Mike decided they liked the idea of another holiday on wheels. “When Christine was turning 18, I realised fairly quickly it would be our last family holiday,” Pam says. “So, we hired a motorhome for three weeks in the South Island and everyone learned to ski.”

Renting is key

Over subsequent decades, Pam and Mike have hired motorhomes several times for different adventures. “We went to Martinborough for a week and hired a motorhome; on that trip we bought quite a few boxes of wine and stashed it up on the bed at the front. It was great – except we’d taken my little car out to where we hired the motorhome near the airport, and we then had to fit all this wine into my car,” Pam recalls with a laugh.

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Renting RVs gave Pam and Mike an idea of what they wanted to buy

Years of hiring motorhomes gave the Carters a good idea of what suited their needs. “Renting is the key to finding what works for you,” says Mike. “You can find out what you did like, what you didn’t like, what size you wanted, what configuration you wanted, and what size motor was needed.”

A sense of freedom

When the couple sold their business, the local pharmacy in Titirangi, they started looking seriously at buying a motorhome. “It was always going to be a given that we would buy one at some stage, then when Mike retired in 2016, we spent time researching what was available. We spent about three years looking at and hiring different motorhomes,” Pam recalls. “When you’re renting one, you’ve got to have it back in three weeks, or four weeks, or whatever,” Mike says. “If you’re part way down the island you’ve got to think, ‘right, head for home now’. You can’t stay another week or another day. If you have your own one, you can quietly drive down the North Island, then hit the South Island, and come home again when you want to. You’ve got that freedom.”

Wedderburn, Central Otago

In choosing their own vehicle, Mike says a big thing for him was space. “I didn’t want fixed beds in the back. I wanted a system where you could have a lounge bit at the back and have windows. That knocked out about 75 percent of the market. And it had to be a decent size so you could move around.”

The deal was sealed when son Mark, who’s a professional photographer, recommended Wilderness Motorhomes after doing some work for the company. “He told us that the company was amazing,” Mike says. “They lent him a motorhome to take some photos down south,” Pam adds, “and he raved about it.”

Parked up at Whangateau

Thanks to Mark, they found their dream motorhome in the German-made 2022 Bürstner Lyseo TD 744, which features a rear lounge. “We had a look and fell in love with it,” Mike says. “We’ve got a full panoramic back window,” adds Pam.

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“We have electric beds in the ceiling that drop down. A double bed in the back and the front. They’re exceptional,” Mike says. The Carters also wanted to avoid steps and different levels in the interior, and the Lyseo TD 744 fits the bill. Solar panels mean they can easily go off-grid, and there are numerous other features the Carters love about their 2.2 litre 9-speed automatic motorhome on a Fiat Ducato base – its heating and insulation, a three-burner gas hob with oven, ample storage, and abundant lighting. “I call them my disco lights,” Mike says with a smile.

Mark, Christine and Pam in Queensland back in 1985, their first family campervan holiday

Pam and Mike have customised their new home-away-from-home with some added extras, including extra suspension and a bike rack fitted on the rear, which winds down and then lifts up again to save hoisting their heavy electric bikes.

“There’s heaps of room in the boot for people who play golf or if we want to take the barbecue,” Mike says. There’s plenty of room to park the Lyseo TD 744 at the couple’s home, but they like to get away as much as possible. “We’ll often go away, just the two of us, or we’ll go with others who have motorhomes or caravans,” Pam says. “We’ll ring friends and say ‘what are you up to for the weekend? We’re off to Muriwai’ and then it’s a ‘we’ll come too’ sort of thing.”

Christine, Pam, Mike and Mark on holiday in the South Island in 1988

Other destinations the Carters have enjoyed in their Bürstner include Taupō, Napier, Clive, Waimārama, Norsewood, Dannevirke, Lake Whakamaru, Rotorua, Marton, Whanganui, Inglewood, Pikowai, Katikati, Kaiaua, Red Beach, Mangawhai, Ōkaihau, Kai Iwi Lakes, Dargaville, Leigh, Matakana, and Algies Bay.

Pam and Mike also really enjoy the camaraderie of a local Bürstner Facebook page, where Kiwi owners share travel tips and plans. It’s a lifestyle the Carters love – and for Pam there’s no going back. “We sold our tent long ago,” she smiles.

Pikowai, Eastern Bay of Plenty


Mike and Pam at Muriwai in Auckland


Pam and Mike in Spain


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