Buying a Campervan in New Zealand
Buying a campervan instead of renting
If you’re planning to visit New Zealand for more than a month or two, it might be worth considering buying a campervan. This can work out cheaper than renting, depending on the time of year you’re travelling (see when to visit New Zealand). If you’re travelling in the ‘low’ season, rental rates are so cheap you can travel for long periods for a relatively low cost. Many camper van rental companies also offer long-term hire discounts which reduce the cost even further. If you’re travelling over the peak months, however, buying a campervan could work out more cost-effective.
Where to find campervans for sale in NZ
You’ll find new camper vans and motorhomes for sale at dealers and sales centres throughout the country. There are campervan manufacturers in both the North and South Islands. Used campervans are sold privately and via dealers, and may have been owned by individuals or may be ex-rental vehicles. A good place to start looking for privately-owned camper vans and motorhomes for sale is TradeMe, New Zealand’s equivalent to ebay.
The advantage of renting over buying is of course that with a rental, you can just drop it off at the depot at the end of your holiday, and say goodbye! If you own a camper van, you need to consider what you’ll do with it at the end of your trip and it can be stressful trying to sell a vehicle, particularly if you’ve only got a limited amount of time to do it.
Our tips about buying a used camper van in New Zealand
We strongly suggest you make sure the vehicle you’re buying has been regularly serviced and well maintained. The vendor should be able to provide you with maintenance records to prove this. Ex rental camper vans are a good option, as these (if you buy from a reputable rental campervan company) will have been well maintained and regularly serviced. You don’t need the hassle of getting started on your camper van holiday and then having to deal with a breakdown and possible expensive mechanic costs!
Warrant of Fitness (WOF)
Every New Zealand campervan needs a WOF in order to be used on public roads. Make sure the WOF is current. If it’s about to run out, suggest the vendor gets it renewed before you buy.
Motor Vehicle Licence
The motor vehicle licensing fee allows you to use your campervan on public roads. Once the fee is paid, you’ll get a label showing the expiry date. This is displayed on the left hand side of the windscreen. The vehicle licensing fee can be paid at any agent for the Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA), such as a New Zealand Post Shop or the AA (Automobile Association).
Every New Zealand camper van (or other vehicle) needs to be registered and issued with registration plates. When you buy a used campervan, the LTSA must be notified of the change of ownership. You’ll have up to 7 days to do this from the date of purchase. It’s easy – just to go a Post Shop and fill in the form (you’ll need your drivers licence with you). There is a small cost for the change of ownership card (which proves to the seller you’ve changed the ownership). Give this card to the seller when you pick up your vehicle. You’ll receive a new Certificate of Registration within 10 days.
Road User Charges (RUC)
Many New Zealand camper vans are diesel powered or have a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of over 3500 kg. You’ll therefore have to pay Road User Charges. These are based on the vehicle type, weight and distance to be travelled. Before you buy your camper van, make sure it has a current RUC licence paid up to the odometer or hubodometer reading. You can phone the RUC Call Centre on 0800 655 644 to find out whether the RUC licence is correct.
We strongly recommend you purchase third-party insurance. This protects you in case you accidentally damage someone else’s property or vehicle when you’re travelling in your camper van.
If you’re not buying your used campervan from a licensed motor vehicle dealer, check that it is not stolen and doesn’t have any outstanding debts attached to it. It’s also important to check whether anyone has money owing on the campervan. Licensed dealers will perform this check themselves. If you’re doing your own, websites such as www.autocheck.co.nz can help.
If you’re buying your campervan from a dealer, it’s worth asking whether they will consider a buyback. This means that they guarantee to buy it back from you at the end of your trip. Buybacks can save you a lot of stress and time in the days before you leave New Zealand.