Import a Caravan or Motorhome and Be a Happy Camper This Summer!
Posted on December 28, 2014
New Zealand’s wide open roads, stunning scenery and (usually) wonderful summer weather makes for the perfect combination for caravanning.
And now that Christmas is out of the way and we can all get stuck into the real business of enjoying the long, warm days, those with a passion for the great outdoors turn their attention to caravans and motor homes.
Here at McCullough, we have everything you need to import your second home with its ever-changing view. So here’s a few pointers to get you started if you’re looking to buy a caravan or motorhome overseas and bring it into New Zealand.
Make sure you’re clued up
- It’s all very well finding your perfect mobile home overseas, but when you bring it to New Zealand you must make sure that it’s legal and good to go on our roads. The New Zealand Transport Agency is a good starting point to make sure you’ve got all t’s crossed and I’s dotted, and their website has all you need to know about the six-monthly certificate of fitness, safety belt requirements, vehicle classes for motorhomes, and, possibly most importantly for vehicles imported from overseas which don’t fall within standard dimensions overdimension vehicles. There’s also tips for towing and a guide to safe loading and towing.
- And then there’s “certified self-containment” which hit the headlines in the recent years after annual battles between councils and residents in popular camping spots and the caravanners and motor home users usually referred to as “freedom campers” over the disposal of waste. The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has a great website which can help you “to completely meet the ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants (including water for drinking and cooking) for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging any waste”.
Certification, which is a requirement for joining the NZMCA and can be organised through them, requires:
- Fresh water supply: 4L per person per day (i.e. minimum 12L per person)
- A sink
- Toilet: 1L per person per day (i.e. minimum 3L net holding tank capacity per person)
- Holding tank: 4L per person per day (i.e. minimum 12L per person) and monitored if capacity is less than the fresh water tank
- An evacuation hose
- A sealable refuse container (with lid)
There are plenty of stunning makes and models out there – and plenty of people willing to show off how they customise their own caravans and motorhomes. Check out these Australian vintage caravans or this incredible customised fifth-wheeler or this top-10 of the world’s best motorhomes.
But it’s worth weighing up what you want to take on to the road and why you want to import a caravan or motorhome. Here’s a few pointers:
- Convenience: A camper trailer might take a bit of setting up whereas a caravan can just be chocked and jacked up. Of course if your caravan comes with all the bells and whistles like awnings, annexes, power hitches and toilets, that might take you a little time as well. Top of the line for convenience is always the motorhome – just drive up to a halt and sit back and relax.
- Efficiency: Towing a caravan will cost you a few bucks in fuel because of its weight and profile, camper trailers offer a lower profile, the ability to stack gear on top while travelling and a much smaller footprint when it comes to storing them during the off-season. Motorhomes aren’t always the most spacious when it comes to storage but they are best when it comes to fuel efficiency.
- Access: Some of New Zealand’s best views are way off the beaten track. Caravans give you security but you lose some of the access you can reach with a lighter camper trailer. Motor homes, again, fit the bill when it comes to accessing some parts which other second homes just can reach.
The New Zealand Herald ran a story in 2010 quoting UK auto theft investigator Ian Walker saying he’d discovered caravans which had been written off by insurance assessors in England then being re-sold in New Zealand.
"We became aware of a caravan that had been involved in a very serious accident and its remains sold to a UK salvage company for approximately £300 ($630)," he told Motor Caravanner magazine. "Eight weeks later this caravan had arrived in New Zealand and cleared Customs with a declared value of £6000 ($12,610).”
Walker said that salvage company had exported around 60 caravans in 18 months, all of which were by then already on Kiwi roads.
Clearly, it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying and checking that you’re using a reputable dealer. One way to tell the history of any vehicle you’re importing is to check the Vehicle Identification Number, which should be stamped on the chassis and windows of British-built caravans, at hpi.com.
This is how we do it
McCullough use two methods to ship caravans to New Zealand depending on their size.
- Most caravans are shipped in a 40ft cube container (we keep the prices low if possible by pairing your imported caravan with another vehicle). Our team of experts loads the caravan into the container at our export facility near London, all export clearance is taken care of, and the container is shipped direct into Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Nelson or Lyttelton in around 42-45 days. We also ensure Customs and MAF clear the container and take the caravan to our unpacking centre, from where it can be picked up or delivered to your door.
- If you let us know the full dimensions of the caravan as per the manufacturer’s specs as well as its make, model and year, we will be able to determine whether the caravan needs to be sent via roll on/roll off shipping from a comparison with a large database. We will arrange to have the caravan delivered to Southampton in the UK where all export clearance and handling is take care of and from where the caravan is shipped to Auckland in around 42 days. We’ll look after all the Customs and MAF clearances and you can arrange to pick up the caravan or we can deliver it to your door.