Safety tips for a motorhome holiday

By Courtney Whitaker

Courtney Whitaker's tips on how to have a safe and comfortable motorhome holiday.
Motorhomes give you the ultimate freedom - but you still need to know the ground rules.
Motorhomes give you the ultimate freedom - but you still need to know the ground rules.

1 Road rules: Most road rules in New Zealand for motorhomes are similar to those for cars. But though the rural speed limit is 100km per hour, if you are travelling in a motorhome with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GMV) of more than 3500kg, this speed limit is reduced to 90km per hour. Don't fret if your motorhome won't fit on the bathroom scales though, your rental company will be able to confirm whether your vehicle fits this criteria or not.

2 Insurance: Make sure you have insurance to cover your trip. Most motorhome rental outlets will offer some form of accident liability cover when you hire the vehicle, though it pays to shop around. Some will offer roadside assistance.

3 Dump stations: Only dispose of your waste water in designated dump stations. These are usually located at camping grounds, holiday parks, or on the outskirts of a town or city. You can find maps of the dump stations located around the country on websites such as AA Traveller: If, like me, you're not well-versed in the intricacies of motorhome waste management, check out camper for a handy "how-to" video.

4 Freedom camping: There are around 340 "free" campsites around New Zealand that are designated by local councils and the Department of Conservation. Tap into for ideas, or go back to, which has a handy downloadable app, allowing you to be more spontaneous with your stops. It's important to stick only to marked campsites, as it is illegal to camp on privately owned property without permission from the owner. Freedom camping in a restricted area can result in a hefty $200 infringement fee.

5 Safety: To make sure you and your passengers are as safe as possible in your portable hotel, check it complies with road rules. Seatbelts must be fitted in motorhomes manufactured on or after October 1, 2003. If your camper is a "vintage" model, pad sharp edges and objects that could fall or move. The number of safety belts in newer campervans must also match the number of berths. lists the requirements your motorhome must meet.

6 Motorhome sites: If you've done your dash with freedom camping and are looking for something a little more upmarket, try can specify the area you want to stay in and amenities you require.

7 Rest: There are rest stops dotted along most open roads in New Zealand, and it's important to use them if even slightly fatigued. If you're niftier with technology, use a time and distance calculator to estimate how long your trip will take before you leave. Driving in NZ can take longer than expected because of winding roads or weather conditions. has a useful map for planning siestas ahead of time.

- NZ Herald

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