New composting loos for Matapōuri

  • Project typeInfrastructure improvement
  • Project scheduleExpected completion in 2022
  • Contractor nameWaterless Composting Toilets NZ
Matapouri beach.

New waterless, composting toilets are being installed at one at Whangarei’s most popular beaches.

The new toilets will have 2 unisex single cubicles and 1 disabled cubicle and will be located on Matapōuri Road, on Matapōuri Hall Society land, beside the tennis courts. The existing public toilets at Wehiwehi Rd, beside the beach, will remain open.

The current two-cubicle public toilets struggle to cope with extra use during summer and were regularly becoming blocked meaning the toilets had to be closed while the septic system was fixed. 

Council also received complaints about people toileting in the sand dunes and long toilet queues while four extra temporary portaloos installed over the past summer showed high use.

Community members asked Council to investigate using waterless composting toilets instead of a regular septic system.

Composting toilets offer some great benefits for areas that are not connected to main sewer lines. They don’t use up precious water supplies or need the installation of a large septic system in precious natural landscapes.

Local residents have been kept involved in the process via public meetings and a survey earlier this year showed 67.5% in favour of a new toilet block. The site was picked from 15 sites investigated by Council.

The new public toilets are being funded by a Tourism Infrastructure Grant and are part of a wider project, Restoring the Mauri of Matapōuri, being worked on since 2019 by local hapu Te Whānau ā Rangiwhakaahu and Council.

Find out more

 If you would like to know more about this project, email the project manager John Cheah, at

Why waterless composting toilets?

In Matapōuri there were several issues with a traditional septic tank system:

  • Difficulty and cost of securing an adequate water supply. Due to the depleted state of the local aquifer, a new bore water take consent would be unlikely to be granted and the system would have instead draw water from a large water tank that would get refilled by a water truck.
  • Desire and support expressed by the local community members and hapu for a more environmentally friendly wastewater treatment system
  • Opposition to the installation of a large septic wastewater system based on environmental, cultural and amenity/social grounds. The project has seen especially strong opposition when considering toilet locations close to Matapouri Estuary or along Matapouri Bay.
  • Limited space to provide a large water tank and soakage field in additional to a toilet building

Do composting toilets smell?

The toilets are designed to be odour-free and have been used successfully for many years in other parts of the world. During normal operation, there is no smell.

The toilets will be regularly maintained by Council to ensure they are clean and operating as intended.

Waterless composting technical information

The new public toilet is a 3-cubicle system connecting to two tanks. The system is sized to take 28,000 uses a year with a peak daily capacity of 114 visits a day.

Compost will need to be removed from the toilets monthly, to six-monthly, depending on the time of year and how much it is used.

The system is based on a continuous composting process in one large chamber. As the organic material decomposes it will reduce in volume by up to 90%. The system was first developed in the 1930s in Sweden and has been used in Australia for the past 35 years. The composting process is reliable, convenient and safe and its results are environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable.

The supplier we are working with to supply the toilet system is Auckland-based Waterless Composting Toilets NZ.

Waterless Composting Toilets(PDF, 1MB)

Public Toilet Solutions(PDF, 5MB)

Restoring the Mauri of Matapōuri project

Since 2019 local hapu Te Whanau a Rangiwhakaahu and Council have been working on a project called Restoring the Mauri of Matapōuri - Stage 1 to address the environmental problems caused by the summer influx of visitors.

A Tourism Infrastructure Grant was successfully applied for to:

  • provide new public toilet facilities
  • improve solid waste systems and encourage recycling
  • update and improve local signage, boardwalks and paths
  • make some changes to the carpark and WDC reserve areas to increase amenity and improve safety


Matapouri Rd, Matapōuri 0173  View Map

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