Self-Contained in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide

Self-Contained in New Zealand

✅ Last Update: Apr 22, 2024 @ 1:59 pm

1. What is Self-Contained in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, “self-contained” refers to a specific standard of accommodation and facilities for travelers, particularly those utilizing campervans, motorhomes, or similar vehicles for their adventures.

A self-contained vehicle is equipped with specific essential amenities that allow travelers to be self-sufficient for an extended period without relying heavily on external facilities.

A vehicle must have various features to meet the self-contained standard in New Zealand. We will explain all this in this guide.

2. Types of Vehicles That are Suitable for Self-Contained Certification

Here’s a list of vehicle types commonly suitable for self-contained certification in New Zealand:

  1. Campervans: These are typically vans converted into living spaces with basic amenities such as sleeping quarters, cooking facilities, and sometimes a tiny toilet.
  2. Motorhomes: Larger than campervans, motorhomes are designed for extended travel and often feature more amenities, including a toilet, shower, kitchenette, and sleeping areas.
  3. Caravans: Towable trailers equipped with living quarters, including sleeping areas, kitchenettes, and sometimes bathrooms.
  4. Converted Buses: Some adventurous travelers convert buses into self-contained homes on wheels, with all the necessary facilities for comfortable living.
  5. Pop-Top Campers: These are camper vans or trailers with roofs that can be raised for additional headroom when parked. They often feature basic amenities like sleeping areas and cooking facilities.
  6. Truck Campers: Small living units mounted onto the bed of a pickup truck, providing a compact yet functional space for travelers.
  7. 4WD Campers: Designed for off-road adventures, these vehicles combine the capabilities of a 4WD vehicle with basic living amenities such as sleeping quarters and cooking facilities.
  8. Slide-On Campers: These camper units can be slid onto the bed of a pickup truck. They offer compact living spaces with essential amenities for self-contained travel.
  9. Roof-Top Tents: Mounted on a vehicle’s roof, these tents provide a convenient sleeping area while leaving the rest of the vehicle available for storage and other purposes.
  10. Off-Road Trailers: Trailers specifically designed for off-road travel, equipped with living quarters and amenities for self-contained camping in remote areas.

High top campervan

3. Requirements for Self-Contained Certification in New Zealand

Here are all the requirements for a vehicle to be considered self-contained in New Zealand:

3.1. Water Supply System and Loading Mechanism

In New Zealand, a self-contained vehicle must have a water supply system that ensures the water is safe for use and consumption. 

As a vehicle owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure this system securely stores water and effectively conveys it throughout the vehicle, thereby preventing any risk of contamination.

Essentially, it’s about ensuring that your water on board remains clean and safe for drinking, cooking, and other purposes.

In addition to having a reliable water supply system, the vehicle must also provide a means for loading water securely.

This loading mechanism serves a crucial role in preventing any potential contamination of the water during the refilling process, ensuring the water remains safe for use.

Water supply system

3.2. Toilet Facilities

A vehicle must have a toilet to be considered self-contained in New Zealand.

This toilet can either be permanently plumbed into the vehicle or portable, providing flexibility for different types of cars and travel preferences.

Campervan toilet

3.3. Greywater Collection

Greywater refers to wastewater generated from sinks and showers, excluding toilet waste.

A vehicle must have a system for collecting and storing greywater to meet New Zealand’s self-containment standards.

This system is essential for managing wastewater responsibly during travel.

It ensures that water used for activities such as washing dishes and taking showers is contained within the vehicle and does not contaminate the surrounding environment.

Greywater collection

3.4. Refuse Storage

Refuse storage in a self-contained vehicle refers to providing adequate space for storing and managing household waste until proper disposal facilities are available.

This includes any waste generated during daily activities such as cooking, eating, and general living.

Sufficient refuse storage capacity is crucial for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene within the vehicle while on the road.

It ensures that waste materials, such as food scraps and packaging, are correctly contained and do not create a mess or odors within the living space.

Refuse storage

3.5. Water Storage & Waste Disposal

Water storage in self-contained vehicles must meet the following criteria:

  • Sufficient Size and Volume: Tanks should hold enough water for three days for the maximum number of occupants.
  • Durability and Suitability: Tanks must be designed for storing drinking water and be made of durable, safe materials.
  • Protection from Contamination and Deterioration: Tanks must be protected from contamination, UV damage, and bacterial growth, such as legionella.
  • Support and Security: Tanks must be securely installed and supported to prevent damage or leaks while the vehicle is in motion.

✅ Waste disposal facilities in self-contained vehicles must include adequate facilities for containing and disposing of blackwater (from toilets) and greywater (from sinks and showers).

Water Storage & Waste Disposal

3.6. Safety Measures

Safety is paramount when it comes to self-contained vehicles. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that all components related to water supply, toilet facilities, and waste disposal are securely installed.

This helps prevent any potential hazards while the vehicle is in motion, keeping you and your fellow travelers safe on the road.


3.7. Ventilation

Good ventilation is essential for your water tanks. It allows air to circulate, preventing damage or distortion to the tanks.

It’s important to protect vents to stop any dirt or other stuff from getting in and contaminating your water.


3.8. Backflow Prevention

To keep your water safe, any connections to outside water sources need special devices to prevent backflow.

This stops any contaminated water from flowing back into your clean water supply, ensuring it stays safe to use.

Backflow prevention

3.9. Certification

Certification is like a badge of honor for self-contained vehicles. It shows that your vehicle meets the strict standards set by the authorities to ensure responsible and sustainable travel.

When you proudly display your self-containment certification, you’re showcasing your compliance with regulations and demonstrating your commitment to protecting New Zealand’s environment while enjoying its beauty.

Self-contained sticker

4. List of Self-Contained Officers in New Zealand 

These officers check and certify vehicles as self-contained, which means they meet the standards for responsible camping.

This will help you quickly find one nearby, whether you’re exploring the North Island, the South Island, or specific regions in New Zealand.

This information will ensure your camping trip is fun and follows the rules.

Name Location Website / Contact
Janmor Technology 42 Kereone Road, Morrinsville www.janmortechnology.co.nz
Combined Plumbers Ltd 70 Wilson St, Whanganui www.combinedplumbers.co.nz
Freeway RV Centre 25 Ulric St, Plimmerton, Porirua www.freeway.co.nz
Raymond John 36 Berkeley rd, Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt 021 0296 6318
Mohsen Halsey drive, Lynfield, Auckland 021 280 6006

Self-contained officers in New Zealand

5. Making the Big Decision: Rent or Buy a Self-Contained Campervan?

Before you hit the road, you must decide: Should you rent or buy a campervan? Let’s look at the basics to help you make the right choice.

5.1. Renting a Campervan

✅ Pros:

  • Easy and Flexible: Renting allows you to choose different campervans for various trips.
  • Good for Short Trips: Renting might be cheaper than buying if you’re only planning a quick adventure.
  • No Maintenance Hassles: Rental companies care for repairs and upkeep, saving you time and money.

❌ Cons:

  • Less Personal: You might not find a rental that fits your needs.
  • Costs Add Up: Renting for a long time can cost more than buying.
  • Mileage Limits: Some rentals restrict how far you can drive.

🔍 For finding and comparing campervans for rent you can use our search tool: Campervan Rentals | TCNZ

Renting a campervan

6.1. Buying a Campervan:

✅ Pros:

  • Your Style: When you buy, you can customize your campervan just as you like.
  • Cheaper in the Long Run: Buying might save you money over time if you plan to travel a lot.
  • Potential Investment: A well-maintained campervan can hold its value and be sold later.

❌ Cons:

  • Big Upfront Cost: Buying a campervan means shelling out a lot of money upfront.
  • Maintenance Duties: You’re in charge of fixing and maintaining your campervan, which can be expensive.
  • Extra Costs: You might need to pay for storage and parking when not using it.

🚐 If you want tips about buying a campervan in New Zealand, we have compiled the following guide: 12 Tips for Buying a Campervan in New Zealand

Buying a campervan

6. Freedom Camping with a Self-Contained Campervan

Freedom camping means camping in places other than official campsites, such as beaches, forests, or public parking areas, without having to pay.

It’s a great way to see the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand while having the freedom to choose where you stay.

6.1. Why Choose Freedom Camping with Your Campervan?

Flexibility: With your self-contained campervan, you can park and camp in lots of different places across New Zealand, away from big crowds and tourist spots.

Saving Money: Freedom camping lets you avoid paying for campsites or hotels so that you can use your money for other fun things during your trip.

Getting Close to Nature: Enjoy the peacefulness of nature by camping in quiet places surrounded by fantastic scenery and starry skies.

6.2. Your Responsibilities When Freedom Camping:

Take Care of Nature: Make sure you leave the places you camp at just as clean as you found them. Always throw away your trash properly and be kind to animals and plants.

Follow the Rules: Check for any rules about freedom camping in the areas you want to visit. Some places might have unique spots for camping or regulations you need to follow.

Use Your Campervan’s Facilities: If your campervan has a bathroom and a way to store waste, use them properly. This helps keep the environment clean and healthy.

Benefits of freedom camping

7. Free Camping Spots in New Zealand for Self-Contained Vehicles

If you’re traveling around New Zealand in a self-contained vehicle and looking for free camping spots, you’re in luck!

Here are some fantastic locations where you can park up and enjoy the beauty of New Zealand without breaking the bank:

  1. Department of Conservation (DOC) Campsites: Many DOC campsites offer free or low-cost camping facilities for self-contained vehicles. These spots are often located in stunning natural settings, providing a peaceful and scenic overnight stay.
  2. Freedom Camping Areas: New Zealand has designated freedom camping areas where self-contained vehicles can park for free or at minimal cost. These areas are typically located near beaches, lakes, or other natural attractions, offering picturesque surroundings for your camping adventure.
  3. Scenic Reserves and Conservation Areas: Explore New Zealand’s scenic reserves and conservation areas, which often allow free camping for self-contained vehicles. These areas are ideal for nature lovers seeking secluded spots away from the hustle and bustle of tourist areas.
  4. Local Council Sites: Some local councils provide free camping areas for self-contained vehicles. These sites may offer basic facilities such as toilets and waste disposal facilities, making them convenient for travelers.
  5. Private Landowners: In some cases, private landowners may allow self-contained vehicles to camp on their land for free or for a small fee. Always seek permission from the landowner before setting up camp, and leave no trace when you depart.

Free camping spots

8. Apps to Make Your Adventure Even Better

Luckily, in today’s digital age, your smartphone can be your best travel companion, offering everything from navigation assistance to local insights and activity recommendations.

  • CamperMate: This handy app makes it easy to find campsites, toilets, and dump stations. It’s like having a guide to your trip’s best spots.
  • Wikicamps: Discover cool places to visit, campsites, and even see photos from other travelers with this treasure map for adventurers.
  • Roadtrippers: Plan your journey, find places to visit, and share your adventure with friends using this helpful app.
  • WeatherNZ: Keep track of the weather so you can plan your outdoor activities accordingly with this useful app.
  • iOverlander: Find camping spots and see what facilities are available at each location with this helpful guidebook app.
  • Star Walk 2: Explore the night sky, learn about stars, planets, and even spot satellites with this fun stargazing app.

Travel Apps

🧑‍💻 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Self-Contained in New Zealand

1⃣ Why is self-contained important for travelers in New Zealand?

Self-contained means you’re ready to explore New Zealand’s wild places without leaving a mess.

2⃣ What’s so special about getting self-contained certification?

It’s like getting a special pass to camp in amazing places where regular campers can’t go.

Plus, it shows you’re a responsible traveler who cares about the environment.

3⃣ Can I really go off-grid with a self-contained vehicle?

Yes, you can! With a self-contained vehicle, you can camp in beautiful spots far from cities and towns.

4⃣ Is self-contained travel just for super adventurous people?

Nope! Anyone can do it. You can choose a comfy camper or a fancy motorhome.

5⃣ How can I travel in New Zealand without hurting the environment?

Self-contained travel is the answer! It helps keep nature clean by making sure your waste is managed properly.

6⃣ Can I really live in a vehicle for a long time?

Absolutely! With a self-contained vehicle, you have everything you need to live comfortably on the road.

7⃣ What’s the best thing about self-contained travel?

It’s all about adventure! You can explore stunning places like waterfalls and mountains while still enjoying hot showers and yummy meals in your vehicle.

8⃣ Can I still have fun while traveling in a self-contained vehicle?

Of course! You can relax and enjoy nature’s beauty while having all the comforts of home.

9⃣ How do I find a great place to camp in New Zealand?

With self-contained certification, you can camp almost anywhere! You can choose to stay by the beach, near a lake, or in a quiet forest. It’s like having a new adventure every night.

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Travel Cars NZ is a platform where private sellers and car dealers can list their campervans, backpacker cars, vans, wagons and other types of cars for sale all around New Zealand. General and useful information about converted vans and small campervans for sale is available at the TCNZ blog.