LATEST UPDATE (07 September 2023): The Self-contained Motor Vehicles Act 2023 was recently passed into law. The government has now released the long-awaited self-contained vehicle regulations that cover:

  1. The technical requirements vehicles must meet to be certified self-contained under the new regime.
  2. The criteria NZMCA and other issuing authorities must meet to become certification authorities under the new regime.
  3. The competency requirements for self-containment officers to become motor vehicle inspectors under the new regime.
  4. The fees and levies that certification authorities and vehicle owners must pay under the new regime.

A copy of the new regulations can be found here.

Following the release of these regulations, the new Regulator (Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board) will begin developing guidance material for certification authorities, vehicle inspectors and other stakeholders. The PGDB will also develop a technical notice relating to how vehicle inspections must be carried out.

We expect the PGDB will release these guidelines and technical notice well before 7 December 2023. The NZMCA and its team of technical advisors will use this information to help guide our volunteers and members through the transition period.

See here for further information on the PGDB’s role.

Over the next two years, the NZMCA and other industry stakeholders will begin certifying vehicles under a set of new regulations. This transition will not take place overnight and the NZMCA will release further updates as we navigate the next 24 months together.

For the next 6 months, our testing officers will continue certifying members’ vehicles, including those with portable toilets, under NZS 5465:2001. When the National Office processes check sheets for vehicles with portable toilets, the blue self-containment warrant card and A4 certificates will clearly note “Certification is not for freedom camping purposes”.

This will ensure members with portable toilets that are certified from 7 June 2023 will continue to have access to NZMCA Parks, rallies and events.

This process will remain in place until the NZMCA begins certifying vehicles under our new certification programme in March 2024 (see below tab for further information).

Please refer to the For members with Portable Toilets content box below for further information.

Freedom camping changes
See here for the latest information from MBIE.

Of note:

  • Vehicle-based freedom campers must use a certified self-contained vehicle when they stay on council administered land. That is unless the council designates freedom camping sites suitable for non-self-contained vehicles.
  • Vehicles must have a permanently fixed toilet to be certified self-contained under the government's new regime.
  • The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board will implement a new system for the certification and registration of certified self-contained vehicles, including a publicly accessible register of all certified vehicles. A $120 levy fee will be charged at each four year inspection for registration in this system.
  • The infringement regime will increase fines from $200 to $400 to further deter freedom campers who continue to flout the rules.
  • The Freedom Camping Act 2011 now includes land managed by Waka Kotahi NZTA and Toitū Te Whenua LINZ. Council bylaws will be able to restrict and prohibit freedom camping on NZTA land. Freedom camping is prohibited across all LINZ land, save for any designated sites (there are currently 5 designated sites across New Zealand).

Importantly, the new Act addresses vehicle-based camping only. It does not regulate the use of tents for camping. The Act does not affect freedom camping on public conservation land, or the decisions made by the Department of Conservation. DOC can, if deemed necessary, restrict freedom camping in specific areas to certified vehicles with a fixed toilet.

The NZMCA’s general position on the Act

The NZMCA generally supports the intent of the Bill, including the requirement for fixed toilets under the new certification regime. However, we believe some aspects of the Bill should be improved to provide clearer outcomes...READ MORE

Summary of the NZMCA’s submission on the Bill

The NZMCA supported most of the proposed legislative changes in the Bill, while accepting the reforms are necessary to better protect the environment and communities from the negative impacts of freedom camping... READ MORE

Summary of the NZMCA’s submission on the Regulations Discussion Document

The NZMCA has accepted the need for more formal regulation of the self-containment system, including that of having an official regulator which in current proposals will be the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB).... READ MORE

For members with portable toilets

If your certified vehicle has a portable toilet, you’re still welcome to remain a member of the club, access our parks and attend NZMCA events.... READ MORE 

The NZMCA will apply to become a certification authority

...and commence the process of training our testing officers to become vehicle inspectors later this year. In late February/March 2024 we will begin transitioning over to our new certification programme...READ MORE

What next?

Over the next 6 months, the NZMCA will work alongside the PGDB and other industry stakeholders on technical guidelines and training resources to help vehicle owners and our volunteer’s transition over to the new system

Please visit MBIE’s website for further updates on the Act’s transitional timeframes.

Member engagement

We will continue to update our volunteers and members during the 2-year transition period.

Links and downloads to further information

Self-contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Act 2023: CLICK HERE

Self-contained vehicles regulations: CLICK HERE



CEO Bruce Lochore’s e-newsletter sent to all members: CLICK HERE 

The Board’s e-newsletter sent to members in June 2022: CLICK HERE

The Board's e-newsletter sent to members in October 2022: CLICK HERE

The NZMCA’s submission on MBIE’s proposed changes to freedom camping (May 2021): DOWNLOAD IT