Inside loo rule for self contained camper vans and motorhomes

AMANDA CROPP
Last updated 13:12 21/12/2016
AMANDA CROPP/Stuff.co.nz

British traveller Justin Wall is all for a decent sized motor home loo.

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This camper van toilet meets a proposed new "self contained" standard because it can be used inside the vehicle.
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Luxury motor homes boast bathrooms more than a few steps up from the port-a-potties seen in some camper vans.

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It might be a bit of a squeeze, but a new standard proposed for self-contained camper vans will insist on loos that can be used inside the vehicle. 

It also requires sufficient "head and elbow room" so campers can comfortably relieve themselves even when the bed is made up. 

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) commissioned the revised standard and hopes it will help avoid the mess that marred overcrowded freedom camping spots last summer.

Some council bylaws will now only permit freedom camping by vehicles certified as self contained, and that includes the capacity to carry at least three days' waste.

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But NZMCA spokesman James Imlach​ said some certified camper vans came with portable toilets that could only be used outside the vehicle.

"[Some] had toilets that were just for show and were never coming out of their packaging.

"The toilets are fine, they're pretty good facilities, it's the way they're installed. It's just that people can't get to them."

British traveller Justin Wall said he wouldn't be interested in hiring a camper with an "outside" loo, and at 193 cm he only just fitted into the onboard toilet in the motor home he and his partner rented for their travels around the country. 

The revised standard would also tighten up the certification process to ensure it was carried out by sufficiently qualified people. 

The Standards NZ review committee said self regulation had been "largely ineffective" in dealing with issues around interpretation and application of the standard, and strongly recommended a regulatory body be reintroduced. 

Imlach said the Ministry for the Environment had previously filled this role, but relinquished it in 2012 following funding and staffing cuts. 

Public submissions on the proposed changes close on February 20. 

General manager of Escape Rentals Brendan Pope said about half their fleet of 200 vehicles was currently self contained, but would be retro-fitted to meet the new standard.

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"We won't get much change out of $100,000." 

The aim was to progressively change to a fully self-contained fleet over the next three or four years. 

Raising the toilet standard was a good move, Pope said, but it would not solve the problem with independent tourists - so-called "vanpackers" - who bought their own un-self contained vehicles for freedom camping. 

"We want it to be sustainable and it's really good when people respect it and do it right."

Tourism Holdings has the largest fleet of rental campers. Chief executive Grant Webster said it supported the change and with 98 per cent of its vehicles self contained, costs were minimal.

Jucy general manager Heather Bailey said about 85 per cent of its fleet would meet the new standard and the company was pleased the industry was taking steps to protect the environment. 

Steve Hanrahan chairs the Responsible Camping Forum, an industry group with representatives from campervan hire companies. 

He said there were no figures available on the total number of rental camper vans and motor homes nationally, but he estimated there would be at least 5000.

The forum was mounting a social media campaign this summer encouraging both Kiwi and international freedom campers to obey the rules and act responsibly. 

- Stuff

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