Motorhome Advice

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Motorhome Advice

The page has the basic motorhome advice you will want if you have never been motorhome camping before.

A motorhome or campervan or rv or camper van - they're all the same to us - basically a mobile home that you are holidaying in.

This basic motorhome advice is for those of you who are thinking about motorhome hire / campervan rental - we just go through some very basic stuff involved with self-contained motorhomes- if you know this already, go to the campervan rental page to think more closely about how to choose a camper van for hire - click here.

Motorhome Advice

Water - you will have a fresh water tank and you will also have a holding tank for the waste water (or grey water). They should be about the same size as other than the water you use to drink, the waste needs to go somewhere. Many water tanks are fitted with inline filters, but we suggest boiling all water before drinking even if you do have a filter. There will be a water pump that runs off power to pump the water to the tap or shower outlet. Most campervans will have tank monitors so you know how much water you have in each tank. Fill your water tanks by connecting the hoses you have been given to a suitable water source - one that says "drinking water" or "potable water". Holiday parks and campsites usually have water supply as do some service stations. You will be supplied with hoses to connect to the grey water outlet for emptying - you do this at a dump station

Hot Water - water is heated either by a gas boiler or via the mains if you are plugged in. There is usually a switch for "off" "gas" and "mains". You may have the option of 2 hot water temperatures, eg. 60 degrees celcius or 70 degrees celcius. It takes about 30 minutes for the water to heat up once you have turned it on

Toilet - one of the benefits of having a self-contained motorhome. Advice on the particular toilet cassette in your campervan will be given when you pick up the rental, but basically, you will put a small amount of chemicals (BioMagic), that should be supplied, to cover the bottom of the cassette. There is a slide on the toilet you need to open before using and close again after using the toilet. When the cassette is full (there is usually an indicator light), you need to empty the cassette. The toilet cassette is usually accessed from outside the campervan. You just need to slide it out and then empty it at the dump station.

Dump Station - look out for the blue sign with a campervan with an arrow pointing down midway. Dump stations are often just on the side of the road. There will be a metal cover which you lift to reveal 2 drains, one with a lid. The one with the lid is for the toilet waste (black water) and the other drain for the grey water. There is usually a tap - unless it says "drinking water" or "potable" water, do not fill your water tanks with this water - the water tap is there so you can clean the dump area when you're finished. Some dump stations will have 2 taps - one for drinking water. To find the location of dump stations in New Zealand, click here

Power - most motorhomes will have a 12 V battery that is used for providing power for lights, the water pump, and fridge. This will recharge with driving or with the campervan engine running. Campervans / motorhomes also come with a 240 V plug that plugs into mains power at holiday parks (check there are "powered sites"). Some appliances, such as televisions and DVDs, can run off the 12V battery, but others, such as microwaves, need power from the mains, so you need to be plugged in. Some batteries in rental vehicles are long-life so you can use the 12V battery for all your needs (not microwaves, though) and don't need to be plugged in for several days. Some campervans have solar panels that recharge the 12 V battery, so again you don't need to be plugged in. Some campervans have an inverter - this is a device that allows you to run appliances like camera chargers, computers etc off the 12 V battery supply - so you can use these while being off-grid (ie. not plugged in). It is a good idea to get an idea of how long the battery in the campervan you are going to rent lasts if you're not driving. If you want to freedom camp, you need a long life battery and /or solar panels.

Switch boxes - you will have a box with your switches. So, although your lights will have individual switches, they won't work unless the "light" switch in the main switch box is turned on. Again, the igniter on the gas hob will only work if the "hob/rangehood" switch is on (that's the case in our campervan, anyway). Water will only run when the "water pump" switch is on. It's designed to save power because you don't have unlimited power in a motorhome.

Camping ground - our basic motorhome advice on this is that the ground is as flat as possible - you don't want the kettle sliding down the hob because you are on an incline. You may have to move around a bit on your site to get the best level - we check the level by seeing how a bottle rolls on the bench in 2 directions - front-to-back and side-to-side

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Pre-Flight" Motorhome Advice

If this is your first campervan adventure, then you will want an easy way to remember everything before you start driving.

We use "Don't Forget your Glasses" - it stands for:

  • G - is the Gas turned off? For safety, the gas must be turned off at the bottle when driving
  • L - are all lockers and drawers Locked? There's nothing worse than going around a corner and having all the drawers fly open
  • A - is the Awning in? Did you see the Robin Williams movie - "RV" - he forgot to put the awning in
  • S - are the Skylight and roof hatches closed? It's easy to forget these so make a point of checking and don't forget the roof hatch in the shower cubicle
  • S - are all unnecessary appliances Switched off? We only leave the fridge switch on.
  • E - is the External step in? Again, this is easy to overlook so make a point of checking
  • S - are all items Secure? This is a last check as you may have bags or other items loose - you will want to secure them somehow

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