When the “Caravanning with Kids” family were asked to road test the New Age Caravans Gecko 18ft Family van as part of the What’s Up! Downunder Summer Series, we were so excited. We have admired the New Age caravan range for quite some time and they rated number 1 in our early 2016 top 3 Aussie manufacturers so we could not wait to do our first New Age Caravan Review. We have been lucky enough to meet some of the award winning New Age Caravans team, including their CEO Gabby & their head designer. These guys manufacture to the highest of standards and their attention to detail is impressive. Will our road test live up to our high expectations?
Wayne headed to Melbourne to pick up the Gecko GE18B and there were many things we were really looking forward to trialling. We currently tour in a 24ft van, which is huge and we have often thought about downsizing. On our recent tours of the East Coast and Central Australia, we have come across a few places that we have not been able to stay at, due to the length of our van. The New Age Gecko is only 18ft and has all the features of our van! How can this be? Will it be tiny and crammed?
The first thing I noticed was the manual pull out step, sometimes it is the little things that stand out and I was pleased to see that we did not need to lug a step around with us. As soon as I opened the door I was dazzled by the interior. It was light, bright and fresh. I find some interiors of vans to be too dark; however the décor in this Gecko was everything I have always wanted in a van.
The bunks run across the back of the van and are on the right as you walk in, with large windows at the pillow ends. Our girls were very quick to jump up and they loved how the pillow ends were tucked in next to the kitchen, giving them some privacy. Combine this with a full length grey curtain and they were able to snuggle up in the darkness while we pottered in the kitchen. Another ingenious design feature sees these bunks convert into a couch! Once the kids get too old for the bunks, there will be no need to upgrade to a different van. This also makes this family van ideal for Grey Nomads who occasionally take their grandchildren out on an adventure.
The girls were settled and as I explored the kitchen area I was surprised at how much room this van has. Contemporary furniture that was comfortable and a very spacious dining area that fit us all in with loads of space. The dining table had a section that folded down, giving the walkway and our family even more room. Our Gecko included a 3 way fridge, microwave, 3 hot plates, sink with adjustable tap and plenty of bench space. Cupboards, cupboards and more cupboards…above the kitchen, below the sink, above the dining, under the seats. The girls took great delight in finding all the wonderful places to store and hide all our goodies.
One of the most impressive features of the Gecko is the ensuite. A split bathroom with a full size shower on the left and toilet, basin, cupboards & large mirror on the right. The space this gives the family in the middle means that we can all dry ourselves, brush teeth etc. in comfort, without bumping into each other and trying to squeeze through doorways. A solid sliding door with towel racks separates the ensuite area to the kitchen, and another concertina water proof door is there if you need it too. We kept it all open and flowing which gave us more room.
Last, but not least, is the ‘master’ bedroom. We had always wondering what it would be like with a fold out bed and had previously steered clear of vans that you had to ‘set up’. We thought it would take up lots of time and that we would have to re-make our bed at every stop. We were so wrong! The fold out queen size bed (and yes, it was a full queen!) folded out in under 10 seconds! Plus, it was so easy, Ashlee (our 8 year old) could manage it all on her own. Once we made the bed, it stayed like that, when we moved onto the next town, we simply folded it all back up – there was no need to unmake the bed or move doonas or linen! I also thought I might feel confined in the east/west bed area; however there was plenty of room to sit up and a reading light on each side. We were very impressed to find that when it rained, it was quieter than our van at home. Once again, loads of cupboard space and a bedside table. All our reservations about a fold out bed were squashed as the interior of the Gecko blew our socks off. It has everything you would expect from a Family van, all neatly contained in 18ft.
An impressive layout, spacious design, loads of cupboard space and a very roomy split ensuite made the interior of the Gecko a real winner for our family.
Outside the van, we found more features that suited our needs. The winning combination of two tunnel boots, one full length with access from both sides and the other ¾ length, meant that we could store everything we needed for the van, within the van and this freed up the back of our car. Push button tunnel boot locks made for easy access for all us, which encouraged the kids to help out during set up and pack up. Ezy drop down jacks, 2 x 4.5kg gas bottles, checker plate front and back all features we liked a lot.
Towing the 18ft Gecko was a dream. The lightweight and compact design made for very smooth sailing during our 2 week adventure with the What’s Up! Downunder crew. Along the incredible coast lines of southern NSW and through the windy roads of Gippsland, the Gecko by New Age Caravans was a remarkably smooth ride.