Choosing your next caravan

Getting it Right

We are here to help you

If you’re thinking of buying a caravan there’ll be loads of questions you’d like answered.

Well, we at The Caravan Planet want to help you, so we’ve compiled here some of the basics such as what to look for ... and what to avoid.

Considering buying a touring caravan is quite a big step, with a commitment to invest a fair amount of money. 

And, if you’ve no experience of caravans, things like “What will my car be able to tow?” and “How much can I put in it?” may seem like almost unanswerable questions. This guide probably won’t tell you absolutely everything you’ve ever wanted to know about caravans, but we are sure it will point you in the right direction. 

You can also find more by calling into see us anytime So, let’s get you started now on your first step to caravan purchase and an enjoyable future of trouble-free touring.

What size caravan would suit me?

Getting the right size

The easiest way to answer this is too ask yourself two questions “What do you intend to do with it?” -  Don’t just think about the first trip: Will your caravan be mainly used for weekend escapes. Is it for family holidays with the children, for the fulfilment of the dream of travelling around New Zealand, or do you plan to make your caravan your only home?


The purpose will determine your caravan’s size and configuration, its layout and the extent of its features. And secondly “How are you going to tow the caravan?” – Unless you are in the enviable position of buying the caravan first and then the vehicle to tow it, you need to check the towing capacity of your current vehicle as this will set a “maximum weight” for your dream caravan purchase.

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Single or twin axles?

So which is best?

Dependant on your towing vehicle (unless you also wish to upgrade your vehicle) is a question that may not need a great deal of thought. 


What’s the difference?


A single axle, as the name implies, has one axle with a wheel connected on each end. Twin axles have two axles placed in close proximity to each other to help disperse the weight load of the caravan.

Advantages of Each:


Single Axle - Weigh less so they’re more economical to tow, often cost less to buy, are generally easier to manoeuvre than a twin axle of the same or similar size, Easier to park or store in a tight spot, and you have one fewer set of tyres, bearings and brakes to maintain and replace.

Twin Axle - More stable at open road speeds, a flat tyre is less of a dramatic event, twin axle caravans are generally rated to carry more, and when properly loaded, will bounce less and is less prone to swaying.

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What can I carry in my caravan?

Check the amount you can carry

Loading your caravan - You need to check the amount you can carry in the caravan, the “payload allowance”, (we can advise on this when you are looking). This will determine how much you can pack into the caravan. You can calculate the User Payload, the maximum amount/weight you can pack into your caravan, by identifying the difference between Mass in Running Order (MIRO) and the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM).

Note: There were changes to the MIRO calculations in 2010, so depending when your chosen caravan was built will depend which rules apply. Therefore, you need to take account of this when calculating your User Payload to ensure you do not exceed limits. Please note, if you decide to purchase an older caravan prior to the mid 1990’s please be aware that the quoted weight has a 5% tolerance which is officially plus or minus but in reality is always a plus.

Although it may be possible to pre-calculate weights, it is also advisable to weigh your car and caravan as you plan to tow. This will give you peace of mind that you are keeping within sensible limits and within maximum permissible weight limits. You can do this at a public weighbridge.