What do you need for self-containment?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of requirements for self-containment;

Please note; this is a non exhaustive list only, there are other considerations depending on your individual set up with regard to materials, quality, positioning and dimensions. The actual self-containment standards are a comprehensive guide give us a call if you have any questions (+6421323140).

Where can i get my motorhome, caravan or camper van tested?

SCNZ has can perform tests throughout New Zealand on both the North and South islands, search for your location here SC Testing


Which vehicles can be made into self-contained vehicles?

Technically any vehicle that meets the requirements can be made into a self contained vehicle. Obviously smaller vehicles are harder and some simply don't have enough space. Here  are some common makes and models that can easily be made into self contained vehicles;

Toyota Hiace, Toyota Estima, Toyota Voxy, Toyota Townace, Nissan Homy, Nissan Serena, Nissan Caravan, Mitsubishi L300, Mitsubishi Delica, Mazda Bongo, Mazda e2000, Mazda MPV, Ford  Transit, Ford Econovan, 

If your vehicle is not listed it does't mean that you cannot make it self contained, give us a call if you want to check.

What does self-containment mean?

If your vehicle is self contained it means that you can take  advantage of hundreds of free camping areas across New Zealand. To become self contained you must be able to meet the minimum requirements laid out in the self-containment standard  NZS 5465:2001. In short;

'A certified self-contained vehicle meets the ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants for a minimum of three days, without requiring any external services or discharging waste.'

What happens if I fail the self containment test?

If you fail the self containment test the first time, you will be given a list of amendments that you need to make to get your vehicle to the self-containment standard. You then can make your changes and we will retest the vehicle once you are done. The retest is free so you only pay for testing once.

Tip; this is a great way to get advice on vehicle layout and design, as you can do this first test before you have started your conversion it really helps you get all the information you require to make your vehicle self-contained.

Why do I need self-containment?

Having a self contained vehicle allows you to freedom camp in some of the best camping areas in New Zealand for free. Without it you cannot use the the hundreds of designated Self Contained areas and may be fined for freedom camping.

Does my waste tank need a vent?

Yes all waste tanks whether they are fixed or portable need to be vented. The minimum size for the vent is 10mm in diametre (25mm recommended). The vent must extend to the flood line of the vehicle (the point that system would flood into vehicle if over filled) and finish outside.

Compressor Fridges vs. Absorption Fridges?

Compressor Fridges – 


  • Compressor refrigerators are able to chill to lower temperatures and cool more consistently than absorption refrigerators regardless of the outside ambient temperature, due to the more powerful compressor motor.
  • Most compressor refrigerators can double as freezers because of the powerful compressor motor.
  • Compressor refrigerators work well in uneven terrain, in fact most compressor refrigerators will operate just as well regardless of being flat or on an incline.
  • Compressor refrigerators are built with 12-volt power in mind, which means they run very efficiently on battery power compared to the absorption refrigerators


  • Though modern refrigerators are extremely quiet, there is still some audible noise when the compressor is running, similar to that of your standard home refrigerator.



  • Absorption refrigerators can run for an extended period of time because they rely on the gas flow exchange system rather than 12-volt.
  • You will not need to spend additional money on batteries and charging systems like solar power to run.
  • The heat exchange system of cooling means the refrigerator runs completely silent.


  • Due to the gas flow exchange system, an absorption refrigerator should remain level in order to function efficiently.
  • Absorption refrigerators tend to be less efficient running on 12-volt power, and will drain the batteries quicker than a compressor refrigerator.
  • Because absorption refrigerators tend to be more heavily affected by ambient temperatures, they are usually only able to bring internal temperatures down to a certain amount below the ambient rather than setting to a specific temperature like the compressor refrigerators.


How do I convert my UK imported caravan to be self contained in New Zealand?

It depends on what equipment you already have installed in the caravan and what it comes with as to exactly what you will require.

Another consideration is how many people you need the caravan self contained for?


If you already have a rollaway tank you will generally just need a UK caravan conversion kits including three waste traps for you existing plumbing outlets.

If you do not have a rollaway tank or your tank is not big enough you may require the above kit with a 40 litre roll tank, or even a 75 litre waste tank (for up to six people).

If you are unsure of you requirements give us a call to discuss.