Lola, Jordan and Leon's VW T5 Camper

We go back a bit, Lola and us. From flipping the bird at each other when we worked at adjacent buildings, 10+ years ago; through to the present day and this epic camper conversion.

We had previously teamed up in the earlier days of Judge&Co, fitting out her and Jords' Landcruiser LC80, which you may have noticed as a hero image on our homepage and dotted around our social media. This setup certainly proved its worth, with the couple enjoying plenty of trips and many k's behind the wheel of the big Wagon. But something was making the Wagon a lot less comfy and that something was a growing Leon. The Feldon Hawks Nest, fitted on top of the Landcruiser, was becoming a bit of a tight fit with two adults and a growing young fella. A decision had to be made...

What could fit the Hawks Nest nicely on the roof, but also had enough room inside for additional sleeping space? What was 4x4 and capable of some mild offroad action? It had to be a Van right? However, availability of a later model Van with 4x4 is a tough ask these days, with very few options on the market. Then right on cue, this mighty VW Transporter T5 4x4 popped up. Thankfully, it was also equipped with a manual transmission (you don't want an auto Transporter), so it proved to be the perfect base for a new touring rig.

Right away the family got to work, installing some insulation and wall linings, along with a "T'n'G" panelled ceiling and a laminate floor overlay. While this was all happening, the research into seating and bed options, for inside the Van, was underway. Soon enough, they found the solution in the UK and the unit was ordered and sent on its merry way downunder. 

Once the... lets call it "seat-bed", arrived, it was recovered in the "pleather" material you see in the pics. It was installed and subsequently run through the certification process. This was due to the fact it required custom mounting points, as this model Transporter never had rear seating and the "seat-bed" had integrated safety belts.

The interior fitout was next on the agenda but Lola and Jords made a boo-boo by not actually talking to us first (I forgive you)... A local kitchen maker had some ideas but eventually this fizzled out and contact was made with us. Thank goodness I reckon.

The brief was pretty simple - functionality, no wasted space and make it look gooood. We set to work...

The cabinetry runs down the drivers side from behind the drivers seat, all the way back to the tailgate, with the space available between the side of the "seat-bed" and interior lining being the datum for the overall width.

Every space serves a purpose. A storage cubbie behind the drivers seat is great for soft/foldable items. The Dometic CRX50 upright fridge/freezer with utensil drawer above sits beside the main lower cupboard which houses various household items and the waterpump/filter. Next to that, housed behind a removable panel, is the fresh and grey water tanks, 20L each respectively and above that is a small pull-out table for some work behind the laptop when required.

The overhead cabinet is used for cups, bowls and plates, and has LED strip lighting mounted on the underside to light up the bees waxed "Bamboo" bench area. The black mini subway tiles are a super nice touch, along with the black powerpoint with both 230v and USB outlets. 

Speaking of power supply, Lola got her hands on the EcoFlow Power Kit with the 2kwH battery pack. This system has 12v and 230v power supply and has AC, DC and solar charging capabilities. All controlled by a nice touch screen panel or from a phone app. Some would say this is overkill for NZ touring, but man was the install and integration straightforward. Also, having plenty of head room, should it be required in the future, is always nice.

Behind the sliding, rattan backed doors of the tall cabinet, the EcoFlows main unit and fuse/breaker box sit. These units are quite large and take up the lower level of the 3 level unit. Below this however, was an awkward space... 

The EcoFlow battery sits nicely behind a jazzy little pullout unit which was designed on the fly. Featuring "fold up" wings to create a handy surface for cooking, food prep, or even as a stand up desk. With some shelving above sporting some lovely pot plants and a hidden storage pozzy for the AC and Solar charge cables.


With the main cabinet work finished up, the area below the "seat-bed" was the last spot of unused space. We created a two way drawer here, with one half extending out the rear door, great for storing the 2 burner cooktop along with lots of other kitchen-type stuff as the majority of the cooking happens back here. The other half of this drawer set extends inwards, into the cabin area, which serves its purpose storing clothes, bedding and such.


The brief was simple - functionality, no wasted space and make it look gooood. I think we came pretty close, don't you?



February 02, 2024 — Reuben Clive-Smith
Tags: adventure