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Self Containment

Self Containment

We undertake our Self Containment and Certification checks through the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA).  As a consequenc, you must be a member of the Association.  To join:


If you do not intend becoming a member, we can arrange certification through another trade body.

The NZMCA work tirelessly for the benefit of caravan and motor home owners.  There are many member benefits available which, even without trying, often amount to more than the annual subscription.  On joining you receive a fantastic travel directory listing all the regular DOC and and regular campgrounds, many ‘secret’ spots kindly shared by other members, and, a you will also receive the NZMCA bi-monthly magazine.

Self containment goes a long way to keeping NZ clean and green.  The Association fights strongly to ensure councils allow only certified self contained caravans to park in freedom camping spots that are not available to none certified vehicles.

We have 2 qualified self containment officers here at Christchurch Caravans, so if you undertake the conversion yourself, we can certify it Self-Contained for you.

What it involves on your caravan.

For Self Containment you need:

  • Fresh water supply: 4l per person per day for 3 days (i.e. minimum 12l per person)
  • A sink
  • Toilet: 1l per person per day for 3 days (i.e. minimum 3l net holding tank capacity per person)
  • Holding tank (grey water): 4l per person per day for 3 days (i.e. minimum 12l per person ).  This must be monitored if the capacity is less than the fresh water tank
  • An evacuation hose
  • A sealable refuse container (with lid)

As part of the conversion, we replace and re-route most of the waste water pipes under the van, fitting waste traps and observing the diameters and max run a pipe can be.  We take these pipes to a point on the off-side of the caravan and route them into a closeable ball valve. Next, we modify your roll away waste tank, adding a breather and close-off ball valves (see pic).  The tank then connects to the caravan via a flexible hose.

Using the standard aqua roll and waste container supplied with your van, means we can usually SC the van for 4 people.  Any more than that and you need to take additional fresh and waste water capacity.

We generally don’t install permanent grey water tanks – but we can do.  You just need to take the following considerations into account:

  • When you pitch up you will often have an awning up and it then doesn’t make it very easy to take your caravan to the dump station to empty the tank.
  • Caravans have a carrying capacity of around 200kg which is usually taken up with all the normal items you load into the caravan, so having a full 100l water tank (fresh or waste) is more than likely going to overload the max load rating of your caravan.

The cost to Self Contain your standards caravan is $500
This doesn’t include a rollaway waste tank (we modify yours), or membership of the association.  You can join the NZMCA here:



Self containment by adding solar

If you are planning on freedom camping then its all well and good self containing the waste water, but what will you do in 2-3 days when your battery starts to run low?

You may say, “I have a generator,” but who wants to listen to your genny chugging away?

Having a solar setup takes away the need for a cumbersome generator and it will also keep your battery topped up all year round.  We install the panel on the roof and the controller is tucked away near the battery inside, so really once it’s fitted there is not much else to do.

What we would recommend is a large 200W panel, running through a 20A MPPT tracer solar controller.  The MPPT controllers are more efficient, running at about 97% (but are more expensive).  There is also a visual control panel for the solar controller so you can see at a glance the system efficiency.

If you go away all year round when the sun is lower and the days are a bit shorter, so you may need and can have a larger 260w panel fitted – subject to space on the roof.

You can get cheaper setups, but if it’s a smaller panel with an MPW controller, you might find your battery going flat.

We will need to check your roof space first, to see what size panel will fit.

The 200W setup is $1299 fitted, upgrading to a 260W panel is an additional $145

We can of course add a bigger panel or even 2 smaller ones, wired in parallel. It might also be worthwhile adding a 2nd battery to increase the storage capacity. Available roof space on your van will be the determining factor.

NZ Caravan
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03 379 1633