To the young German tourist they were proud that they were self-contained because they had a mattress and duvet, cooking utensils etc. in the back of their station wagon. They are not alone in their belief that their vehicle is self-contained. Unfortunately their misunderstanding of what Certified Self-contained means has led to problems with freedom camping in New Zealand.
So what does this Certified Self-Contained actually mean?
The first word gives a clue. The vehicle needs to be certified by a self-containment officer.
In a nutshell, to gain a self-containment certificate your vehicle requires the following:
Fresh water supply – a minimum of 12 litres per person
A sink to wash your dishes and yourself
A toilet with a minimum 3 litres holding tank per person
An evacuation hose (to remove the above liquids)
A sealable refuse container with lid (so as not to attract mice, rats and insects) or risk spilling the contents.
At the end of the day, the purpose of self-containment is to protect our environment.
My rental company said we didn't need to have a toilet.
Contrary to advice that some rental companies give to tourists, it is not ok to slip into the bushes to go to the toilet in New Zealand.
If you are still in any doubt as to whether you want to be certified self-contained, there is an instant fine of up to $2,000 for spilling grey waste (that’s dishwashing water, and water for washing yourself) into the environment.
Does every camping vehicle have to be Certified Self-Contained?
Absolutely not! But if you are not self-contained, you must stay in camping grounds where you can go to the toilet, wash your dishes, clothing and yourself.
You can also stay overnight, freedom camping, at places where there are toilets, without the need to be self contained. . I hope that this is of use. Your feedback is most welcome.