Eriba Touring 542 caravan

Life on the road: Viking-style Eriba

With Viking heritage in their blood, a Tauranga couple has channelled the spirit of their ancestors to personalise their striking and innovative Eriba caravan, which turns heads wherever it goes, Peta Stavelli writes

As their professional lives became increasingly demanding, Sharon and David Pinnock began to dream of soothing weekend escapes to the seaside and enjoying a more relaxed pace of life.

Of course, living in the beautiful Bay of Plenty, the couple acknowledges that the options of a water-side break are nearly endless, and sometimes they can just pop five minutes down the road to Papamoa, to park up beside the beach.

There, or wherever else they might find themselves on any given weekend, they disconnect from their busy professional lives and walk and talk or relax on fur coverlets while quaffing red wine from a drinking horn. As you do.

Well, at least as this recently married couple with a soft spot for Viking memorabilia do.

It was David who first became interested in the Viking theme, and then later in life, he met Sharon, who also discovered Viking ancestry in her DNA. Sharon loves the luxurious look and feel of faux fur and that tied in nicely indeed with the vibe they both sought for their getaway vehicle. But first, they had to find the perfect weekender.

“We just wanted something spacious, light, easy to tow, and ready to go,” Sharon explains. They also wanted a vehicle that would sit easily in their driveway and that could be towed by their existing car, a Holden Commodore.

The Eriba Touring 542 caravan

Eriba Touring 542 caravan
A vinyl wrap was carefully curated for the exterior

As fate would have it, it was one day when they happened to drive past RV Mega in Mount Maunganui that they spotted the vehicle they would eventually buy: a sweet little Eriba Touring 542 Caravan.

But as life often goes, getting to buy the caravan of their dreams was a much longer and more convoluted process than either of them had anticipated.

“We took the long way around, looking at numerous other caravans because the cost of the Eriba was more than we had originally set out to pay. So, we kept doing the comparisons: we looked at all sorts, but just kept coming back to the Eriba because nothing else compared to it.”

Sharon, a lifelong caravanner, whose Tauranga-based parents Dale and Chris Carrington still travel regularly in their Leisureline caravan, explains what changed their minds.

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“As soon as we worked out that the Eriba could be towed by the Holden Commodore, and we would therefore not need to upgrade our car to tow it, we realised we’d be able to afford it.”

Fortunately, the same model with the copper-coloured trim that they had fallen in love with six months earlier was still for sale, and this time they didn’t hesitate. “We’ve got the same-sized toilet, the same space we’d have in a larger vehicle; we’ve got heaps of light and loads of extras. We have the fixed north-to-south bed, plus all our windows that fully extend out with insect screens, and we can manoeuvre it easily with just the two of us.”

It would be easier to list the things they do not like about the Eriba (as there are none) because the couple bubbles over while speaking about its many attributes. They laugh when describing how the pop-top can stay down because neither of them is exceptionally tall. They also love the numerous vents that promote good airflow, and they really rate the incredible insulation. It has solar, gas/power, hot water, and gas heating.

“We cannot speak more highly of it, and we always joke with Richard at RV Mega that if he wants to use us for promotion, we’d be perfectly happy to do it.” They’ve even made a quirky video for family and friends promoting all of their van’s many attributes. But as it stands, with its eye-catching Viking wrap, the vehicle stands out from the crowd.

Viking vibe

Eriba Touring 542 caravan
Faux fur throws and cushions add comfort and cosiness to the Viking theme

From early on, the couple knew they wanted to wrap their caravan with a vinyl image. They even consulted with a few firms but the majority “didn’t want a bar of it.”

Eventually, they found a graphic designer who was as excited about the idea as they were: Alex from DesignHub in Papamoa. David explains the process: “Alex really took his time, working over a number of days helping us to select the right image and then spending time ensuring the placement was just right on our van. He said afterwards that being involved in this project had been a wonderful journey for him, as it was not something he’d done before. We love the final effect, and it certainly draws a lot of comments when we’re camping.”

The Viking theme might be obvious to the passers-by, who David says often ‘gawp so hard’ he’s waiting for someone to trip over.

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However, while the over-arching theme is obvious, many would miss the details that are special to Sharon and David whose nicknames for each other, ‘Blondie’ and ‘Pinny’, are written in the Runic alphabet used by the Vikings. And just to ensure no opportunity to promote their interest is missed, the theme also extends to the numberplate – VKNGS.

David’s sister and brother-in-law sourced the Dometic pop-up awning that was made for the Eriba while visiting the UK. The Pinnocks love the way this augments their space and gives them even more room to relax and expand their Viking theme, which includes a table made from a wine barrel and some comfy chairs.

Eriba Touring 542 caravan
The owners love relaxing in the ‘bay window’ with their Viking accessories at hand

Even as their busy professional lives has the couple firmly rooted in the Bay of Plenty for the present, they have already considered the far distant future when their retirement trip will take them to the South Island.

Hopefully, they will travel to catch up with The Walkers, who brought their Eriba only a few weeks prior to the Pinnocks and with who they regularly correspond.

For now, David (58) has taken up a new role as branch manager for the recently opened Papamoa branch of plumbing company, Harrison Bloy. Sharon (55), meanwhile, is a former nurse who’s now the village manager of the new Summerset Retirement Village in Papamoa.

“Our work keeps us really busy and that’s why it’s so important for us to get away.”

A favourite place has become Ōhope Beach or Papamoa Tasman Holiday Park where the couple love to park close to the sea and take long walks along the beach. They sometimes walk for anywhere between 12 and 20km a day.

“We just meander along… the sea for us is very grounding and our walks give us plenty of time to reflect.”

Sharon and David married each other in a small and intimate family-orientated wedding ceremony during the recent Easter weekend. Their children Jordan (27), Leah (24), Harry (also 24), and Callum (22) all played key roles. As did their Eriba van in which the couple stayed for the week while the family took over the house.

For now, Sharon and David’s striking caravan is destined to be only used for short hauls, but wherever they travel in it in the future, this is one travel trailer that’s sure not to be missed.

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