Complete guide to off-grid living in your motorhome

Author: Your RV Good Guide   Date Posted:4 June 2024 


Living off-grid in a motorhome is catching on as a fantastic way to live and explore. It's easy to see why – it's all about freedom. Freedom to explore new places, meet new faces and wake up to different landscapes whenever the mood strikes. But, before you pack up and roll out, a bit of planning can go a long way. In this guide, we’ll share some great tips to help you enjoy the off-grid RV lifestyle to the fullest, including:


What is off-grid living?

Off-grid campervan living is really about being self-sufficient and independent. It’s choosing not to be tied to one spot or reliant on public utilities. For those who choose to live in off-grid campervans or motorhomes, it means adapting to alternative sources to meet our daily needs. That could mean powering your mobile home with solar panels or a generator instead of hooking up to the grid. It also means carrying your own water supply and managing waste with regular stops at dump stations to keep things clean and tidy. This lifestyle allows you to explore New Zealand's more secluded spots without sacrificing the comforts of home.


The benefits of off-grid living

Wondering whether the off-grid RV lifestyle is for you? Let’s take a look at some of the big benefits:


Freedom and flexibility

One of the biggest perks of off-grid RV living is the sheer freedom it offers. Forget about the constraints of traditional living; no more daily routines that feel all too repetitive. With your off-grid campervan, you can roam far and wide, seeking out remote destinations that few get to experience. Whether it's a hidden beach or a quiet mountain vista, your home on wheels takes you right where you want to be – no reservations required.



Choosing to live off-grid in a motorhome is not only about embracing adventure – it's also a step towards more sustainable living. Living in an off-grid camper encourages a more mindful way of life, where every resource is valued and nothing is taken for granted. By using alternate power systems like solar panels, you’re making a positive impact on the environment. Less dependency on the grid means less carbon footprint, and managing your resources efficiently means you’re contributing to a healthier planet.

READ MORE: Top 10 tips to make your RV travel more environmentally friendly


Cost savings

Living in your off-grid motorhome isn't just good for the planet – it can be great for your wallet too. By cutting ties with traditional utility costs, you significantly reduce your monthly expenses. No more electric bills, reduced water costs, and fewer fees from council services can all add up to substantial savings over time. Plus, using renewable energy sources like solar power can offer long-term financial benefits as you travel across New Zealand. Investing in a sustainable off-grid RV setup might have an upfront cost, but it pays off by keeping more money in your pocket as you enjoy life on the road.


Connection with nature

Living in an off-grid camper means more than just adventure; it's about forming a deeper connection with nature. Without the distractions of constant digital connectivity and urban noise, you're free to soak in the tranquillity of New Zealand's spectacular landscapes. Whether it's waking up to the sound of waves on a secluded beach or enjoying a quiet evening under a starlit sky, off-grid living enhances your relationship with the natural world. This immersive experience not only rejuvenates your spirit but also deepens your appreciation for the environment, inspiring a greater commitment to preserving its beauty.

We invite you to join us in following the Tiaki Promise, a commitment to care for New Zealand's unique landscapes, wildlife, and rich culture. The Tiaki Promise encourages everyone who lives and travels in New Zealand to act as a guardian, protecting and preserving our environment.

READ MORE: Benefits of motorhome travel



How do you live off-grid in your motorhome?

Loving some of those great benefits but keen to know more about the practical aspects of living off-grid in an RV? Here are a few top considerations.


Power generation

When you’re living off the grid in an RV, generating your own power is crucial. Solar panels are a popular choice among motorhome enthusiasts, offering a reliable and renewable source of energy. They're especially effective in sunny locales, quietly converting daylight into electricity without any ongoing costs.

For those who travel where sunshine is less consistent, a combination of solar power with a backup generator can ensure you always have enough power. Generators are versatile and can run on petrol, diesel, or even propane, making them a flexible option for energy production no matter where your travels take you.


Water management

Since you're not connected to council water supplies, it’s important to ensure your onboard water system is both functional and hygienic. Most off-grid RVs come equipped with sizeable water tanks that can be filled at approved potable water stations. To prolong the intervals between refills and ensure water is used efficiently, fitting your taps and showers with low-flow fixtures can make a significant difference.

To keep the water clean, consider installing a high-quality filtration system. Water filters can remove impurities and improve taste, making your supply safer for drinking and cooking. Regular tank maintenance is also crucial; cleaning and sanitising your water tank at least twice a year will prevent the buildup of algae and bacteria, ensuring the water remains fresh and clean. For greywater from sinks and showers, systems can be installed to recycle this water for flushing toilets or irrigating plants, helping make your water go even further.


Waste disposal

Since you’re not tied to a single location, it’s important to plan for proper waste management, especially when travelling in remote areas. Most off-grid RVs are equipped with facilities to separate and store waste efficiently. Household rubbish should be disposed of at designated waste disposal sites to minimise environmental impact.

For sewage, or black water, responsible disposal is essential. Make use of RV-friendly dump stations available nationwide, which are designed to safely process and dispose of sewage. These facilities are critical for preventing contamination of local ecosystems and for ensuring that your travels leave minimal footprints on the natural landscapes you visit. Regular maintenance of your waste tanks is also important to prevent leaks and odours, keeping your off-grid motorhome fresh and hygienic as you explore.


Energy-efficient appliances

When outfitting your off-grid motorhome, choosing energy-efficient appliances is key to maximising your independence and extending the life of your power sources. Energy-efficient appliances consume less electricity and help reduce the strain on your solar panels or generator, allowing you to stay off-grid for longer periods without needing to recharge.

Look for appliances like refrigerators, cooktops, and heating systems that are specifically designed for RV use and labelled as low-energy or energy-star certified. LED lighting should replace traditional bulbs as they draw a fraction of the power and last much longer.

Additionally, investing in smart systems that monitor and control energy use can help you keep track of consumption and make adjustments on the fly. These systems can optimise energy usage across your appliances, ensuring you get the most out of your energy reserves while maintaining the comforts of home.

READ MORE: Must-have accessories and gear for freedom camping


Storage solutions

Space is at a premium in any RV, so making the most of it with clever storage ideas can make a huge difference in how liveable and enjoyable your motorhome feels.

Start by utilising multi-functional furniture that doubles as storage. For instance, seats that lift to reveal storage compartments or beds with built-in drawers underneath can keep your living space uncluttered. Overhead cabinets and shelves take advantage of vertical space without overcrowding the living areas. For kitchen storage, sliding pantries and magnetic strips for knives and utensils can save a lot of space while keeping essentials easily accessible.

Additionally, consider external storage solutions like mounted bike racks or cargo carriers. These can free up interior space and are perfect for storing outdoor gear or extra supplies.

READ MORE: How to maximise your motorhome storage space.



Other things to think about when living off-grid in your motorhome

Now that you’ve got a few tips on what you’ll need for day-to-day living, here are a few more pointers to help you plan for safe and enjoyable off-grid living.


Responsible freedom camping

Freedom camping means free camping on public land that has few or no facilities such as showers and toilets. In New Zealand, you need to have afully self-containedmotorhome, RV, campervan, or caravan for freedom camping so that you don’t need to rely on public facilities.

There are over 500 freedom camping sites across the country. But you can’t just park anywhere. To find sites that allow freedom camping, check on the local council website, look for signage, use thethlRoadtrip app, or visit theDepartment of Conversation.

If you park in a spot that doesn’t allow freedom camping, you could be given a fine for illegal parking. Be mindful also that some sites allow camping for a limited time such as one or two nights only, so plan to stay for a short stint before moving on to your next destination.


Location planning

When you’re living off-grid in a motorhome, careful location planning becomes crucial. It’s not just about finding beautiful spots to park – it’s about ensuring these locations meet your needs for safety, accessibility, and legality. Research is key; before you set off, spend some time mapping out potential spots using apps and websites dedicated to off-grid campervan enthusiasts. These resources can provide valuable information on amenities, restrictions, and the experiences of other travellers. Things to consider include:

  • availability of resources like water and waste disposal facilities
  • connectivity to mobile and Wi-Fi networks if needed
  • weather patterns of the area you plan to visit
  • local camping regulations
  • proximity to shops and gas stations.


Emergency preparedness

When living off-grid, being prepared for emergencies is not just advisable, it’s essential. Ensure your RV is equipped with a well-stocked emergency kit that includes items like a first-aid kit, flashlights, extra batteries, a fire extinguisher, and emergency blankets. It’s also a good idea to have a supply of non-perishable foods and plenty of water just in case you find yourself stranded or unable to access shops for a while.

Beyond physical supplies, it’s important to have a plan in place for different types of emergencies. Familiarise yourself with the procedures for dealing with mechanical failures, medical emergencies, and natural disasters relevant to the areas you’ll be exploring. Keep important contacts, such as roadside assistance, local emergency services, and insurance information, easily accessible. A satellite phone or an emergency GPS locator can be life-saving in areas where mobile coverage is unreliable.

Being well-prepared allows you to handle unexpected situations with confidence and ensures that your adventures in your off-grid camper are safe as well as exciting.

READ MORE: Must-have motorhome accessories to be prepared for anything


Maintenance and repairs

Maintaining your off-grid motorhome in top condition is crucial for ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted off-grid experience. Regular checks and maintenance can prevent unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs down the road. Create a routine maintenance schedule that includes checking engine oil levels, tyre pressure, brake systems, and ensuring all lights and electrical systems are functioning properly.

For repairs, it's wise to have a basic toolkit on board, along with manuals for your specific RV model. Learning some basic repair skills can save you time and money, particularly when you're in remote locations. Additionally, keep a list of recommended mechanics and service centres along your planned route.


Community engagement

Living in an off-grid motorhome doesn’t mean you have to be isolated. In fact, the off-grid and motorhome communities are vibrant and welcoming. Engaging with these communities can provide a wealth of information, support, and friendship. Participate in online forums, social media groups, and websites dedicated to off-grid living and motorhome travel. These platforms are great for sharing tips, advice, and experiences, as well as for staying updated on gatherings and events.

Attending meet-ups, rallies, and other community events can also enhance your off-grid living experience. Joining organisations such as the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) can help expand your network and resources. The NZMCA hosts numerous events that are perfect for meeting like-minded individuals.


Go off-grid in your motorhome with RV Super Centre

Ready to get started on your off-grid RV adventure? Make sure you’re fully equipped with everything you need from RV Super Centre.

Whether you’re looking for the latest off-grid RV technology or need specific modifications to enhance your motorhome for off-grid living, we’ve got you covered. Our team specialises in outfitting motorhomes with high-quality, reliable solutions, from solar panels and energy-efficient appliances to water systems and storage solutions. And if you’re looking for advice, our knowledgeable staff are always on hand to offer expert tips and guidance.

Visit us today to find all your off-grid essentials. Start your adventure with confidence knowing you have the best equipment and support behind you. RV Super Centre is your partner in exploring the great outdoors!


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