Self-Contained Vans & Campervans in New Zealand

self-contained vans and campervans

Whether you want to invest in a Self-Contained Van or Campervan, or want some extra info, you will find everything you need here.

Freedom camping in New Zealand is a major attraction for locals and international tourists, with this beautiful country’s colossal array of scenic destinations and unique terrains. One of the most popular ways to explore the various landscapes is by buying or hiring a Self-Contained Campervan, and with so many paid and free camping sites spread across the country, Freedom Campers will be spoiled for choice.

General information about Self-Contained Vans & Campervans

Exploring New Zealand is an awe-inspiring experience, but doing it in a campervan brings a whole new excitement and adventure. Unfortunately, the laws regarding camping and traveling in a campervan have tightened up, and travelers must 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 can still travel around New Zealand in non-self-contained campervans, there are obvious benefits to choosing a self-contained vehicle.

We have compiled a general guide to help make the final decision when selecting the type of vehicle you would like to decide and other necessary information to consider.


Minimum requirements for Self-Contained certification

Suppose you purchase a licensed campervan or plan on getting the vehicle certified independently. In that case, these are the minimum requirements that every self-contained campervan needs to meet before being approved:

1. Fresh water tanks: 4 liters per person per day (12 liters per person minimum); e.g., 24 liters are required for two people in 3 days.

2. Sink: Via a smell trap/water trap connected to a water-tight sealed waste water tank.

3. Grey waste water tank: The tank should hold at least 4 liters of water per person daily. Suppose the tank has less than it should be vented and monitored.

4. Evacuation hose: At least 3 meters 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 1 liter per person per day (3-liter net holding tank capacity per person minimum)

A portable toilet must be adequately restrained or secured when traveling. 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.


Benefits of using a Self-Contained Van or Campervan

Some benefits of using a self-contained campervan are:

  • Spacious Layout: Self-contained campervans offer more room than traditional ones, featuring couches, tables, and an equipped kitchen space.
  • Convenient Setup: The design allows travelers to enjoy the sights and scenery without leaving the campervan, providing a comfortable and efficient setup.

On the other hand:

  • Older-Style Campervans: Typically have a bed towards the back.

Consider the following financial benefits:

  • Initial Investment: While the upfront cost of a self-contained campervan may be higher, the spaciousness and savings on camping fees make it a worthwhile investment.
  • Camping Sites in New Zealand: Most sites are free or charge a minimal fee, offering a cost-effective alternative to accommodations in hostels, motels, or hotels.

Avoid fake self-contained certificates by local unlicensed dealers

When purchasing a self-contained campervan, it is essential to check that the vehicle is licensed, roadworthy, and meets all the requirements set out by NZ laws.

Registered car dealerships should give you all the relevant information before you purchase the vehicle and give you a certification that corresponds with the license on the vehicle’s windshield. This should have all the information you require and be valid upon the date of purchase.

Waste water disposal

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 wastewater safely and environmentally friendly.

New Zealand has several “dump stations” available for campers to eliminate wastewater. These stations can be located on most maps, camping apps, and all i-SITE visitor information centers.

waste water

Should you buy or rent a Self-Contained Campervan?

Before making significant investments, weigh the pros and cons of renting versus buying a campervan. If you only intend to travel for 6–8 weeks, renting is the way. However, if you have planned a trip that will exceed the 2-month mark, buying and selling a campervan might be the right choice for you.

Selling your newly purchased campervan in peak season would likely see you making 100% of your money back, but even in the winter months, you might be surprised at the return you receive.

In New Zealand, many campervan options abound, each with unique deals and prices. Spaceship Rentals tops our list of budget-friendly choices and widespread locations. If luxury is your aim, consider exploring other providers.

👉 For additional information about Spaceship Rentals, explore their booking system here: Spaceship Rentals

spaceship rentals

Top 3 most popular Self-Contained Campervans (brand & model)

Shift your focus from German, French, or USA manufacturers—Japan takes the lead when it comes to campervans.

  1. Toyota HI ACE: Picture this campervan like a favorite pair of jeans—comfortable, reliable, and poised to conquer the world. As a standout model in the campervan market, the Hi-Ace is a preferred choice for many rental companies, often found in excellent condition with over 300,000 km on the clock.
  2. Mitsubishi Delica or L300: Mitsubishi offers versatility with options like the Delica or L300. Specifications may vary, but one constant remains—these campervans are built tough, sturdy, and primed for unforgettable adventures. Endurance, reliability, and strength define their essence.
  3. Nissan Caravan: The Nissan Caravan is a frequent sight on the road, captivating attention with its reliability, resilience, and readiness for New Zealand adventures.

While Japanese campervans currently dominate the market, a few tried-and-true European models have covered many happy kilometers. Exercise caution regarding repair costs, as they can escalate swiftly, and no freedom camper wants their travel budget drained by pricey car repairs.

Seasonal prices for buying Self-Contained Vans or Campervans

The travel and tourism industry is strongly influenced by the seasons, and the campervan market is no different. Prices can sometimes fluctuate by 50%, but Travel Cars NZ is still one of the most competitive dealerships in the market.

The market influences Travel Cars prices, but we offer 12 months of mechanical warranties, on-road assistance, and a Buy-back option, making us the first choice for domestic and international freedom campers.

What can you expect to pay?

Travel Cars NZ has various options to suit every traveler. Whether you are a solo traveler, an adventurous couple, a group of friends, or a small family, we have the ideal option. Most self-contained campervans go for between NZ$9,000 and NZ$15,000, while non-self-contained campers can be purchased for less than NZ$7,000.

🚐 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.


🔗 Helpful links you might be interested in

Guide about Second-hand Campervans in New Zealand

Travel Cars Mechanical Warranty

Travel Cars Buy-back option

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please don’t hesitate to comment below. Our team is here to help ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.

🌍✈️ Thank you, safe travels, and embrace the adventure ahead!


  • Hello,

    we are looking for a self-contained van from 5th november 2018 to 4 january 2019. Do you have an available vehicule for us?
    Thanks in advance,
    Best regards

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Good afternoon, we found also you contact us by email, we will respond you shortly. Thank you

  • Hi, I’m planning a 10 days trip in the North Island, do you have for rent self-contained campervans?

  • Catherine Fontaine

    Hello Travel Cars, how much cost the certificate when the set up is done?

  • Im wondering how many people use the portable toilets..

  • Good article, but will be better if you guys include campervans for sale in the article.

  • Alie Faulkner

    Hi, do you have self contained campervans in Auckland or also in South Island?

  • Is it possible to sleep anywhere in New Zealand?

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Dan, you can’t just park up and sleep anywhere. Contrary to popular belief there are some strict freedom camping rules in New Zealand. If you really want to live in your campervan without paying for holiday parks or campsites, then you need to make sure you have a self-contained campervan.

  • Douglas Muller

    Hey, I’m wondering with a self contained campervan how long it last the certificate? Thanks

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Douglas, the certificate is for 4 years from the date you get it, many campervans are sold with it done, usually dealerships we get them new before a campervan is sold.

  • Hi, we are a French couple, we search a van in Auckland, with high roof with less 250 000 km and good mechanic. Please contact me if you have it, thank you very much!

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Clement, we have one available not listed on the website. Please contact us via message o Whatsapp on +64 211970007. I will send you more info and photos there.
      Thank you

  • Do you sell and buy back self contained campervans in Christchurch as well?

  • Sumiya Anika

    Good day! For how long the campervans you sell have a SC certificate? Cheers

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Sumiya, most of the campervans we sell have a brand new SC certificate for 4 years.

  • Michael graham

    Hi there can you still use toyota estimas for self contained campers here you can’t use them anymore once cert runs out can’t redo them is this true mine runs out next year I’m not to worried as I will use camp grounds anyway thanks be nice to know if can redo or not can’t get answer from anyone cheers

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Michael, you can set up any Toyota Estima as a Self-Contained if you comply with the Self Contained standards.

  • Where do we purchase the Self contained blue sticker ?

  • Responsible Campers Association Inc

    The stated requirement to have the toilet usable at all times is incorrect.
    The toilet only has to be usable ‘when required’ as stated in the NZS;5465.
    No idea how a tester is supposed to determine when someone else requires a toilet. The bed being made up is definitely not a requirement -if it was it would say the toilet had to be usable ‘at all times” NOT “when required”.

    Additionally the whole self containment standard is both voluntary and unenforceable as stated by Ministry of the Environment after they ceased to be the administive authority for it in 2012. Reason – no need for Government oversight on a voluntary and unenforceable standard.

    • You are required to have access to the toilet while the bed is made in order to get the SC certificate, that’s a rule as a date of today.

Leave a Reply

− 2 = 4

Table of Contents