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"CERTIFIED SELF CONTAINED" - A GUIDE FOR FREEDOM CAMPERS IN NEW ZEALAND

Updated: Mar 23

The term 'Self Contained' can be a bit of a can of worms in Aussie. It can mean anything from "nah mate, it's just a way to keep the backpackers out, you can put your grey water anywhere" to "don't you dare let a drop of grey water touch the ground or you'll be straight out of here". In short, in Australia it means whatever the campsite owners want it to mean, and in our experience in Aus most places simply mean they don't provide facilities so they want you to be self sufficient with water, power and toilet. But they generally couldn't give a rats what you do with your grey water.


In New Zealand however it's rather the opposite end of the spectrum. Not only do they have very clear guidelines on what they mean by self contained, but if you want to stay in places that are for self contained vehicles only then you need to have your rig signed off and 'Certified Self Contained' (CSC) to ensure it meets the guidelines.


I have mixed feelings about this.


I think it's great that there's clear rules to eliminate confusion.

I think it's excellent that New Zealand offers so many fantastic campsites for CSC vehicles, and I feel like the fact that their are clear guidelines mean there are a greater number of free camps to choose from.

And I've definitely noticed less toilet paper piles around the campsites here in New Zealand, which is a definite plus.


But I worry that it's making camping a little bit too elitist. And as someone who comes from a country of frequent drought who is used to watering the garden with grey water even when living in a house, I wonder if such stringent guidelines are truly necessary.


However regardless of where you stand in the debate when it comes to self containment one thing is certain; if you want to fully make the most of the full range of campsites New Zealand has to offer, you really do need a rig that is 'Certified Self Contained'.


For that reason we made sure it was a priority in our caravan reno, and we're pretty stoked to have that little blue sticker on the back of our van that's our ticket to freedom camping in New Zealand.


If you'd like to know more about NZ's CSC regulations, and how we managed to make a 1972 vintage caravan meet them, then check out this article we wrote about it for CamperMate here