Ahh…camper vans! What better way to discover and take in all of New Zealand’s beauty than by traveling in a camper van? You can stop wherever, whenever you want. You can park beside the uber-gorgeous Lake Tekapo in New Zealand (just for pics because camping is not allowed in the immediate vicinity). You can choose to sleep under the stars.

Sounds super romantic, eh?

Weeellll….sorry to have to burst your bubble and show you the harsh hidden reality that’s part and parcel of the whole camper van experience — cleaning the toilet cassette! I mean, surely you didn’t expect the waste to just drop along the roadside? Yes, Virginia. I’m afraid that ingenious little toilet/shower inside the camper van needs a little looking after. It’s not that complicated a process but one that requires an iron stomach. For Westerners, I suppose it’s a once-a-day thing. But for Malaysians, twice a day minimum is more like it. You know why? Because Malaysians dislike ‘dry cleaning’ (i.e. cleaning up using toilet paper only) and prefer water any day. That means filling up the toilet cassette in less than a day.

So how does this whole cleaning thing work? Let me break it down for you step by step, with pictures…

Step 1: Look for the nearest dump station…or get the app! You can’t just dump the contents of your toilet cassette anywhere; you could get fined for it. Watch out for places that has this sign:

Step 2: Locate the location of the toilet cassette in your camper van and open the latch.

Step 2: Locate the handle and pull, as you have been taught by the camper van people.

Step 3: Step out of the way and let your husband handle the dirty work take out the entire cassette. The toilet cassette, when full, can get extremely heavy. Oh, and remember to pass him the disposable gloves thoughtfully provided by the camper van company.

For this particular step, it would help immensely help to do some advance planning and park your camper van in such a way that the toilet cassette is as near as possible to the dump point.

Step 4: Open the dump point. It’s a duly marked concrete structure on the ground with a reclosable opening. Remove the cover of your toilet cassette and keep it as far AWAY from the dump point’s hole. (Trust me! I learned the hard way in the middle of nowhere that the toilet cassette cover CAN fall INTO the dump point.) Now, aim the toilet cassette’s nozzle into the dump point and pour carefully.

Step 6: Turn the toilet cassette upside down to empty as much of the contents as possible.

Give it a good shake every once in a while…

Step 7: Put some water inside, cover, shake, pour into the dump point. Rinse. Repeat.

Step 8: You should have been provided with deodorisers/disinfectants either in sachet form or liquid form. Put in the appropriate dose inside the toilet cassette, replace the cover securely, and put the toilet cassette back into its place.

And voila! You’re done. Now get rid of those gloves, wash your hands with soap and running water several times and give yourself a pat on the back.

P.S. 1: Try not to be too rough on the toilet cassette because if you mishandle it, there’s a possibility of dislodging a part or accidentally damaging the retractable cover. If that part of the toilet cassette gets stuck, either the cassette remains closed all the time (thereby rendering your toilet unusable) or open all the time (thereby causing an unspeakable stench to permeate your entire camper van) until such time you manage to find a suitable service centre to replace your toilet cassette.

P.S. 2: A special shout-out to manufacturers of camper vans all over the world: Please design toilet cassettes to come with some sort of nozzle or hose in order to put a stop to such unfortunate events as splashing or missing the dump point by a few centimetres. And let the nozzle or hose be made out of any opaque material so as to shield our eyes from *ahem* unsightly objects. Thank you.

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This is a super-late addition to a series of posts that I’ve written about our family’s camper van experience in New Zealand. Other related posts:

The Pros & Cons Of Using A Camper Van In New Zealand’s South Island In Winter

Photo Tour Of A Kea 6-Berth Camper Van

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