Navigating the New Normal:

Fixed Toilets Now Required for Self-Contained Motorhomes and Caravans in New Zealand

The Self-Contained Motor Vehicle Legislation Bill, recently passed in the New Zealand Parliament, signals an important shift in the regulations governing self-contained motorhomes and caravans.

This new legislation, particularly pertinent for those of us who enjoy freedom camping, introduces several significant changes that we all need to understand.

Let’s walk through the implications of this new law together, highlighting the new requirements and what they mean for the motorhome and caravan community.

New Zealand’s Parliament has passed the Self-Contained Motor Vehicle Legislation Bill, heralding a new chapter for self-contained motorhomes and caravans, particularly in relation to freedom camping. The new legislation comes with several important changes that require our attention and understanding.

The law now mandates that only motorhomes and caravans with permanently fixed toilets can be certified as self-contained. This ends the accepted practice of using portable toilets for this certification, a transition that may bring about unexpected challenges and expenses.

For those of you currently holding a self-containment certification with a portable toilet, this certification remains valid for two years from the enforcement of the Act. After this period, a new certification will be necessary under the updated requirements, which include having a fixed toilet installed in your vehicle.

At Motorhome Solar, we’re here to support you through this transition. We are keeping ourselves up-to-date with the new changes and will be providing self-containment checks and certifications under the revised norms. We’ll guide you on the steps necessary to meet these requirements and answer any queries you may have.

It’s essential to note that these changes do not impact vehicles that aren’t used for freedom camping. If you’re camping on private land or at paid sites, including NZMCA sites, your use of portable toilets remains unaffected. NZMCA has found a workaround for the moment, continuing to certify portable toilets with the clause “not for freedom camping use.”

These new rules will take effect from 7 June 2023, and the AS/NZS standard will become void six months after this date. Certifications under the old standard will stay effective for up to two years from 6 June 2023, unless an extension is given by the tourism minister.

In terms of oversight, the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board is likely to manage the roll-out of the Act, and we anticipate further information from them in the upcoming weeks. The new law will apply to vehicle-based freedom camping on council-controlled and LINZ land. While there is no legal definition of camping in NZ, local authority officers can issue fines for preparing to camp. We trust the law will be applied equitably.

The legislation also extends to various vehicle categories, including rooftop or vehicle-based tents, trailer tents, pop-top caravans, and sleeper cars. Looking ahead, we should note that political parties such as National and Act have voiced their intention to repeal this law in early 2024, which may bring about further changes.


Despite these transitions, there’s no need for alarm. Our team at Motorhome Solar is dedicated to keeping you informed as more information becomes available. We encourage you to familiarize yourself further with the Self-contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill by visiting the official government website through this link.

For any questions or concerns about how these changes affect you, please get in touch with us. We’re here to provide guidance on navigating the new self-containment laws.

We appreciate your understanding during this time of change, and we’re confident we can adapt together successfully. As we continue our caravanning journeys, let’s remain respectful of our wonderful public lands and embrace this new phase in self-contained motorhome and caravan travel in New Zealand.

For further information or direct comment, please see MBIE, Responsible Camping Team, your local MP or the office of the Minister of Tourism, Peeni Henare.

Stay safe, stay informed, and keep adventuring,
Your Team at Motorhome Solar.

Still unsure about how these changes impact you?

No problem, we’re here to help. Get in touch with the team at Motorhome Solar for expert guidance and advice on navigating the new self-containment laws.