Top Tops For Safe Sleeping in a Campervan


A campervan holiday in New Zealand is at the top of the bucket list for many travellers. With endless opportunities for adventure and exploration, travelling by campervan gives you the freedom to see and do it all at your own pace. Stay longer in the places you love and move on to the next spot when you’ve had enough. And if you’re feeling tired on your travels? No problem, pull into one of New Zealand’s great campgrounds or freedom camping spots and enjoy a restful sleep.

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Before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these top tips for safe sleeping in a campervan.

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Can you sleep in a campervan?

The short answer is yes! One big benefit of travelling by campervan is that you’ve got your bed with you – wherever you are! With your accommodation and transport all in one, you can save the hassle and cost of having to book motels.

Get ready to see and do more for less when travelling around New Zealand in a campervan.

Can I sleep anywhere in my campervan?

New Zealand has lots of incredible beaches, parks, and reserves that would make a great overnight stay. Unfortunately, however, you can’t park overnight wherever you like.

Fortunately, New Zealand has lots of great freedom camping sites on offer, as well as excellent campgrounds and holiday parks. But take note, freedom camping is only allowed in designated areas – if there’s no sign of letting you know it’s allowed, then chances are it isn’t. So, take your pick and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime.

Be sure to download the thl Roadtrip app to help you find camping areas and holiday parks near you. This great app is also useful for locating dump stations, supermarkets, and top New Zealand attractions.

Top 5 tips for sleeping in a campervan safely

1. Regularly service your campervan

To ensure that your campervan is safe to travel and sleep in, it’s important to stay on top of your regular campervan maintenance. After all, the last thing you want to worry about as you’re enjoying your New Zealand road trip is an unexpected breakdown!

If you plan to rent a campervan from an RV rental provider, take the time to ensure you are hiring from a reputable company.

Britz New Zealand is part of thl (Tourism Holdings Limited), the largest provider of holiday campervans for rent and sale in New Zealand, Australia, and the USA. That’s a whole lot of experience and expertise in RV rentals!

Britz puts the safety and well-being of customers at the forefront of everything we do. That means you have the peace of mind in knowing your campervan hire has been carefully maintained right up to the moment you pick it up. Britz also offers 24/7 on-road care, which means we’re only ever a phone call away when you need us.

2. Ensure valuables are stored safely

Worrying about someone stealing your gear or breaking into your campervan isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep!

Theft is often an opportunistic crime, so it’s best to keep your gear out of sight of someone who might be inclined to steal.

When you’re sleeping in a van overnight, you should ensure all of your valuables are stored safely away. Don’t be tempted to leave your camping furniture, barbecue, or expensive hiking boots outside. Instead, lock your gear away so you can trust it will still be there in the morning.

All Britz campervans include a safe, so check with the crew when you pick up your camper to see where it is located and how to use it.

3. Avoid poorly lit, remote areas

When deciding where to park up for the night, avoid poorly lit, remote areas. Instead, take advantage of designated freedom camping spots in New Zealand, which are generally very safe.

It’s also a good idea to park your campervan so that it is facing the exit. This way, if you feel unsafe and want to leave during the night, you can easily drive straight out without worrying about reversing or manoeuvring in the dark.

4. Park up in holiday parks

You’re never short of somewhere great to stay in New Zealand. Most towns offer at least one excellent holiday park, so you won’t have to drive too far to find one.

Staying at a holiday park means you can take advantage of low prices, good facilities, and the friendly campervan community.

Holiday parks generally have good security measures in place with cameras and staff on-site too.

5. Keep your camper at a comfortable temperature

Just as with your bedroom at home, it’s important that you keep your campervan at a comfortable temperature. Being too hot or too cold is a sure way to derail a comfy night’s sleep!

If you’re travelling in extreme weather, this can mean having a few extra items on board to help manage the temperature. Here are a few tips to help:

Winter warming:

  • Your Britz campervan includes plenty of warm blankets to help keep you cosy and snug.
  • Close your campervan’s curtains just before the sun goes down to help retain the day’s warmth inside.
  • Bring along a hot water bottle – just boil up the jug when you’re ready for bed for extra cosy warmth.
  • You also have the option of requesting a portable heater (free with our Inclusive Pack). Note – you’ll need to be plugged into mains power to use the heater.

Summer cooling:

  • To keep you cool, a 12V portable fan can help boost air circulation and cool down the campervan interior when you’re ready to sleep.
  • A cool shower before you head to bed can help on those nights when it’s very hot and sticky.
  • Keep your windows and doors open before bedtime to allow air to circulate as long as possible (remember to close the mosquito nets!).
  • If mozzies are a pest, consider using a rechargeable LED lantern with a bug zapper. The LED light can be turned off with the bug zapper still active when you’re ready to sleep.


Answering your frequently asked questions

Can you sleep in a motorhome while driving?

Although it’s quite alright for a passenger to nod off while they are in the passenger seat, they shouldn’t be sleeping or lying in the beds on board. It might sound like the ultimate way to travel in comfort, but lying in a bed while the campervan is being driven is dangerous and illegal. All passengers should be strapped safely into a seatbelt or approved child restraint while driving in a motorhome.

Is it safe to sleep in the back of a van?

Sleeping in your van is perfectly safe, provided you are taking the right safety precautions. Here are a few tips to ensure you have a safe night’s sleep:

  • Park in a safe and secure location – avoid remote, poorly lit areas.
  • Put away valuables and lock up your van before you go to sleep.
  • Close your curtains.
  • Ensure your campervan is not too hot or too cold.
  • Charge up your mobile phone before you go to sleep, just in case you need it to call for assistance overnight.
  • Take note of the emergency phone number in New Zealand: 1 1 1 (for ambulance, fire, and police).

Can you suffocate in a van?

Sleeping in the back of your campervan is generally a safe and fun way to enjoy travelling to New Zealand. But there are a few safety measures worth being aware of:

  • Don’t sleep with the engine running.
  • Don’t use a portable BBQ inside your campervan (even with the doors open).
  • Ensure your campervan has good ventilation.

Britz campervans are designed to ensure you have a safe, comfortable night’s sleep – whether it’s just one night or for weeks at a time.

Our campervans are all designed to provide optimal ventilation during the day and overnight, both for safety and comfort.

Ready for your next New Zealand holiday?

Whether you’re planning a long weekend road trip in the middle of winter, or a two-week summer adventure, travelling – and sleeping in – a campervan is the ultimate way to enjoy it.

We hope our tips have helped you prepare to have cosy nights and sweet dreams on your next campervan adventure. But don’t just dream about your campervan holiday in New Zealand – it’s time to get out there and do it!

Ready to take the first step and book your campervan hire? Britz New Zealand has a campervan or motorhome suitable for every family and budget. And with branches in Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown, you can pick up and drop off your campervan at the branch most convenient to you.

Looking for more great inspiration to plan your campervan holiday? Check out more of our helpful blogs: