Motorhomes, caravans, light trailers

There are restrictions on the maximum size motorhomes, caravans and light trailers can be if they are to travel on our roads. This is an important aspect to check if you’re importing these vehicles from overseas where size restrictions may differ.


Motorhomes include many different types of vehicles, ranging from bus conversions to purpose-built vehicles.

The standards and safety requirements your motorhome needs to meet depend on the year of its manufacture or conversion into a motorhome, its vehicle class, and its gross vehicle mass (GVM). For example if it’s a new light vehicle (ie has a GVM of 3500kg or less) it must meet specific requirements for electronic stability control, seatbelts, as well as other items. If it’s a heavy vehicle (ie has a GVM over 3500kg) it must meet specific requirements for brakes, tyres, seatbelts and steering and will need a certificate of fitness.

Please also see our infosheet on New Motorhomes.

If you modified another vehicle to build your motorhome, it will probably need specialist certification.

A motorhome is a special purpose vehicle and is most likely a goods vehicle. Check the vehicle class of your motorhome.

For all motorhomes, the maximum width is 2.55m and the maximum height is 4.3m. If the motorhome will be towing, its length is limited to 11.5m, otherwise it can be up to 12.6m long. Some overseas constructed motorhomes may exceed New Zealand dimension requirements and are not allowed on New Zealand roads. Note: maximum dimensions includes awnings and other accessories.

Caravans and light trailers

Caravans are usually light vehicles – those with a GVM under 3500kg. This means they fall within the vehicle class of light trailer. Light trailers include boat trailers, garden trailers and horse floats.

Light trailers

Three are two classes of light trailer:

Requirements for light trailers (classes TA and TB)

Vehicle has to meet standard if made on or after... What sort of standard? Under what legislation?
1 January 2006 Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting 2004
27 February 2005 Installation standard for lighting on class TA vehicles
fitting requirements in Lighting Rule**
Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting 2004
1 October 2002 Tyres and wheels* Land Transport Rule: Tyres and Wheels 2001

*You may fit tyres that meet the New Zealand standards after your vehicle arrives in the country.

**The number, position and performance of lighting equipment on vehicles manufactured after 27 February 2005 must meet EITHER an installation standard or the relevant requirements in 3.3, 4.3, 6.3, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 8.3 and 9.3 of Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting 2004.

Other requirements

While these vehicles are not entry certified, you must register and license your light trailer and you must take it for regular warrant of fitness inspections. Unlike most vehicles, light trailers are not required to be continuously licensed.

Trailers first registered in New Zealand on or after 1 April 2012 must be fitted with a pair of stop lamps and a pair of direction indicator lamps. For more information, please refer to the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting Amendment 2011.

Using your trailer or caravan on the road

It’s illegal to carry a passenger in your caravan when travelling on the road.

Caravans imported from overseas may not be the standard size allowed on New Zealand roads. Learn about the requirements for overdimension vehicles.

Tips for safe towing

  • 90km/h is the maximum speed when towing trailers or other vehicles on the open road. You can only travel at this speed if you have a rigid connection between the vehicles.

  • If you have a non-rigid connection between the vehicles (such as a rope) you cannot exceed 50km/h on any road.

  • Don’t tow a trailer or another vehicle at the maximum speed unless you’re sure you can do so comfortably and safely.

  • Leave at least a four-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead – even more in bad weather. The extra weight you–re towing can dramatically affect your ability to slow down and stop.

Leave at least a four-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead

  • Slow down before curves and avoid braking suddenly – especially on gravel or greasy roads. Use a lower gear when travelling downhill.

  • Don’t overload your trailer as this will affect its stability and control at any speed.

Find more tips on towing in our Guide to safe loading and towing for light vehicles. You’ll find detailed advice on loading and towing practices to keep you within the law and protect you, your goods and others on the road.