9 Mar 2020

Teardrop caravans soar in popularity

From Nights, 7:10 pm on 9 March 2020

Teardrop caravans have experienced a huge revival in New Zealand recently as people have got involved in building and renovating their own compact campers.

Don and Marilyn Jessen have written a book My Mini Could Tow That documenting all the various models on New Zealand roads. 

Marilyn and Don joined Bryan Crump to discuss their passion for tiny caravans. 

The teardrop is basically the smallest kind of caravan you can tow, Don says.

“A very small double bed is inside the cabin and the back hatch lifts up to give you a kitchen, so it’s sort of one step up from tenting.”

They go back to pre-World War II, Don says.

“They originated in the States, pre World War II, and then they became very popular in Australia in the 1940s. Now we’re seeing a renaissance in Australia, America and of course now in New Zealand.”

They are a recent arrival in New Zealand, Don says.

“The first one we saw was 2014, we took our vintage caravan to the beach hop and one pulled up next to me.”

It was owned by a Coromandel couple who had built it from an original 1936 plan, he says.

Marilyn says most tear drop enthusiasts are a younger crowd.

“Teardrops are more people stepping up from tents and they tend to be a younger crew and certainly into vintage type stuff and the teardrop fits into the vintage scene perfectly because they were designed so early.”

They are designed with a hatch at the ‘pointy end’ which lifts up to reveal a compact outside kitchen.

“It’s not as weather-friendly as a small caravan, but it’s a lot more weather friendly than a tent.” Marilyn says.

The last 10 years have seen a surge in interest in caravanning, Don says.

“If you take new sales of motorhomes and caravans it’s about 50/50 now … although most are imported.”

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