Exploring New Zealand is an awe-inspiring experience but doing it in a campervan brings along a whole new element of excitement and adventure. Unfortunately, the laws regarding camping and
travelling in a campervan have tightened up and it is essential that travellers know the do’s and don’ts for camping in NZ.
Many camping areas specify the type of campervan permitted and failing to follow these rules can lead to a hefty fine of up to $200. While you are still able to travel around New Zealand in non-self-contained campervans there are obvious benefits to choosing a self-contained vehicle.
Due to the fact that self-contained vehicles are more environmentally friendly than the average non-self-contained there are quite a few more options when choosing your overnight destination. NewZealand has allocated a few public destinations that allow overnight parking as well as an increase in camping grounds that only permit self-contained vehicles.
However, many tourists still enjoy their travels in non-self-contained vehicles and ultimately the decision rests on budget, travel plans and the length of your NZ adventure!
We have compiled a general guide to help make the final decision when choosing the type of vehicle you would like to choose and other necessary information to consider, additionally you can check out the official website for self-contained vehicles in New Zealand: NZMCA – New Zealand Motor Caravan Association
If you are purchasing a licensed campervan or you plan on getting the vehicle certified independently, these are the minimum requirements that every self-contained campervan needs to meet before being certified:
1. Fresh water tanks: 4 litres per person per day (12 litres per person minimum); e.g. 24 litres are required for 2 people in a 3-day period.
2. Sink: via a smell trap/water trap connected to a water tight sealed waste water tank.
3. Grey waste water tank: Waste water tank should hold at least 4 litres of water per person per day, if the tank holds less then it should be vented and monitored.
4. Evacuation hose: At least 3 metres for fitted tanks or long enough to connect to a sealed portable tank.
5. Rubbish bin: Sealable rubbish container with a lid.
6.Toilet (portable or fixed): Minimum capacity 1litre per person per day (3 litre net holding tank capacity per person minimum)
A portable toilet must be adequately restrained or secured when travelling. The portable toilet shall be usable within the motor caravan or caravan, including sufficient head and elbow room whenever required, even with the bed made up.
Self-Contained Campervans are generally bigger and more spacious than traditional campervans. Older style campervans generally just have a bed towards the back of the van.
Self-contained vehicles were forced to have a more space efficient set-up including couches, tables and an equipped kitchen space ensuring that that travellers only need to leave their campervan to enjoy the sights and scenery of their destination.
Most camping sites around New Zealand are free or charge a minimal rate as opposed to accommodation costs in hostels, motels or hotels. So, even though the initial investment might be a bit higher than opting for a non-self-contained; the benefits and opportunity to save along your journey makes it a worthwhile spend.
When purchasing a self-contained campervan, it is essential to check that the vehicle is licensed, roadworthy and meets all the necessary requirements set out by NZ laws.
Registered car dealerships should give you all the relevant information before you purchase the vehicle and should give you a certification that corresponds with the license on the windscreen of
the vehicle. This should have all the information you require and should be valid upon date of purchase.
If you are purchasing the vehicle privately you can check that everything is on order by visiting the NZMA website (Self-Contained Vehicle Checker). Simply insert the license plate details into the search engine and find out all you need to know.
While the joys of free camping are innumerable there are a few responsibilities that you need to remember. The first, and most important task to remember is that it is your responsibility to dispose of all waste water in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. New Zealand has a number of “dump stations” available for campers to get rid of their waste water, these stations can be located on most maps and camping apps as well as all i-SITE visitor information centres.
Before you make any big investments; it might be a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of renting versus buying a campervan. If you only intend travelling for 6-8 weeks; then renting is
definitely the way to go. However, if you have planned a trip that will exceed the 2 months mark then buying a campervan and selling it might be the right choice for you. Selling your newly-
purchased campervan in peak season would probably see you making 100% of your money back but even in the winter months you might be surprised at the return you could receive.
If you are still on the fence about whether to rent or buy it might be a good idea to consider reading our 12 Tips for Buying a Campervan in New Zealand.
For more information on renting or buying a campervan in NZ contact us on +64 21 197 00 07 or complete our online form.
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Safe travels 🙂