Container Modifications in New Zealand

January 3, 2022

Shipping containers can be converted into just about anything and over the past decade, the trend for modifying shipping containers and creating exciting new spaces has really taken off. From temporary pop up restaurants to permanent homes, shipping container modification in New Zealand is more popular than ever right now.

At NZBOX, our dedicated team has been working on container modifications in NZ for years, helping our customers turn their great ideas into reality. Whilst shipping containers do often provide a cost-effective and practical option for many businesses and people looking to extend their homes, they can also provide a stylish and modern look thanks to modifications that can be made to them.

AT NZBOX, shipping container modification work can be done using any of our high quality 10ft, 20ft and 40ft standard or insulated units at standard height or high cube height (1ft taller). Shipping containers can also be used in combination for larger-scale projects, creating endless possibilities when it comes to the practical uses of modified shipping containers.


What can modified shipping containers be used for?


Looking for some inspiration when it comes to shipping container modifications? From retail spaces to swimming pools, restaurants to schools, modified shipping containers are being used across New Zealand. People are getting more and more creative and with a huge range of modification options available, there is no real limit on what you can achieve by modifying a shipping container.

Here are seven of our favourite examples of how shipping containers can be used here in New Zealand:




As New Zealand towns and cities continue to grow, the need for more classrooms in many of our towns and cities also grows and, in many cases, there either isn’t the room or the funding for new school buildings. That’s where shipping containers come in. Whether it’s a temporary space whilst a school is being renovated or a permanent building to accommodate more students, shipping containers offer a cost-effective solution for schools looking to increase their classroom capacity.




Retail is another area that has taken advantage of advances in shipping container modification with 20ft containers and even 40ft containers being popularly used for this purpose. It’s become so common that there have even been entire shipping container malls created in this country and around the world. The costs compared to leasing an entire retail space in a mall are one of the great advantages, especially for smaller retailers whose product range doesn’t justify a large outlay.




Like schools, if you are restricted on space or budget, a shipping container modification can be a great way to expand your businesses’ office space without breaking the bank. Shipping containers can also be stacked to create a larger area, without the need for additional land.
Here in New Zealand, one of our most common container modifications is for site offices on construction sites. These can be plumbed in to incorporate toilets and showers and often act as the central part of a construction site. The fact that they are temporary and can be moved from job to job makes them highly practical.


Emergency hospitals


Whilst this has not happened here in New Zealand, many countries have turned to modified shipping containers to help to add more capacity for medical centres dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Shipping containers have been used for vaccinations centres and testing centres throughout the world and they provide a practical, temporary solution for situations where there is a high demand for medical services. Shipping containers are used in other parts of the world as emergency hospitals and have been used by the armed forces in such situations.


Swimming pools


Whilst it is not that common yet, there are some great examples of shipping containers being modified for use as swimming pools, either in private homes or by communities. Due to their depth and durable structure, shipping containers make great swimming pools, and they can be buried in the ground or kept above ground, possibly as a temporary fixture during the summer months.




Container homes are becoming more popular around the world, however, here in New Zealand, a more popular option when it comes to shipping container modification is a sleep-out conversion. These are great for families with teenage kids looking for their own space, or expats that welcome visitors from overseas on a regular basis.

They can also be converted into cool spaces for kids, with TV and gaming and comfy chairs for them to chill out and enjoy their own space. This is providing a cost-effective solution to potentially expensive home extension work.




Perhaps one of the most popular container modifications here in New Zealand is the use of a shipping container as a kiosk, especially for food and beverages. These tend to be temporary units that can be used at large sporting or music events, however, we are seeing more and more people looking for more permanent kiosk modifications. Our 10ft containers are perfect for use as a kiosk, however, if you are looking for something a bit more spacious, our 20ft containers are often used as cafes or bars.



What are modified containers?


As you can probably guess from the examples above, modified shipping containers are containers that have been modified into something practical, not simply a way of transporting goods from one destination to another.

There is no real limit to what you can do with a modified shipping container. If you can imagine it, we can modify it. If you have an idea about a container modification, but you’re not sure how to bring it to life, send us your drawings and we can work through it with our engineers to see how we make your ideas a reality.

Not everything has to be a glamorous modification. A lot of our shipping containers are modified to include shelving. Shelving containers are a more subtle form of container modification but a great one all the same as they allow you to maximise your shipping container as a practical storage unit solution.


How hard is it to modify a shipping container?


This depends on the complexity of the design, however, most shipping container modifications are relatively simple once a design has been agreed upon. Our engineers have been working on container modifications for years, and during that time, they have learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t through trial and error.

Our experience in modifying shipping containers means that we have lots of great ideas to help you to get started with your own container modification. Tell us what you want to create, and we are likely to have some great examples to show you off the work we have already done. 


Do you need planning permissions to convert a shipping container?


According to the government-run Building Performance website, “From 31 August 2020, additional building consent exemptions have been added to the Building Act. Building consents are no longer be needed for a number of new or expanded types of low-risk building work, like sleep-outs, sheds, carports, outdoor fireplaces and ground-mounted solar panels.”

This is good news if you are planning on creating a sleep-out at home using a modified shipping container.
However, if you are building a permanent home from a shipping container, consent will be required, and the home must meet New Zealand building code standards.

In the case of temporary installations using a modified container, these usually fall outside of the requirements of planning permission, however, it is always best to check with your local council as local rules may apply.


Interested in a container modification? 


If you are seriously considering a shipping container modification project, talk to the team at NZBOX today and learn more about our modification projects and what we can do for you


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