New composting loos for Matapōuri

  • Project typeInfrastructure improvement
  • Project scheduleCompleted in June 2023
  • Contractor nameContractor: Buildsense, System supplier: Waterless Composting Toilets
Image of the new composting toilets at Matapouri.

New waterless, composting toilets are now open at Matapōuri beach, one of Whangārei's most popular beaches.

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

If the smart new loos at Matapōuri beach prove successful, their design could be rolled out to serve people caught short elsewhere in our District.

Benefits of new toilets

The high-tech, waterless, self-composting public toilets will help accommodate the thousands of people who visit the iconic beach or pass through the village each day during summer.

The toilet design required less land area, used little water and fitted a number of priorities for the Matapōuri community.

The existing toilets use a lot of water during a very dry time of year and often get overloaded due to the high usage. Their septic tanks have to be emptied and there are often concerns raised about dispersal of the treated wastewater into the ground. Although these toilets will continue to operate, the plan is for more people to use the new ones and lift the pressure off the existing septic toilet systems.

Contractor Buildsense installed the system supplied by Waterless Composting Toilets New Zealand. The new public toilets are 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 hapū, Te Whānau ā Rangiwhakaahu and us.

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 hapū 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 Matapōuri Estuary or along Matapōuri Bay.
  • Limited space to provide a large water tank and soak-age 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 us 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 Council reserve areas to increase amenity and improve safety.


Matapouri Hall, Matapouri Road, Matapōuri 0173  View Map

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