How to Choose a Rental Campervan
The rental campervan you choose for your New Zealand holiday will depend on how many people are travelling, your driving preferences, desired comfort levels, where you plan on staying and of course budget. Here are some things to consider.
Choosing your Rental Campervan
Number of travellers – There’s no point booking a 2 berth camper van if there are 4 of you travelling. The campervan needs to have beds for everyone, and legally, every passenger will need a seatbelt.
How much space do you need? – Consider who is travelling, and make sure the campervan you hire has the appropriate bedding configuration (2 couples may have different bedding requirements to a family or a group of single friends). The space you need will also depend on the needs of the individual travellers. If you’re a family with young kids, it’s a good idea to get a campervan with two separate living areas, and sleeping areas at opposite ends of the campervan.
Where will you camp? – The facilities you need in your campervan will depend on where you’re planning to stay. If you’re intending to camp at powered sites in camping grounds or holiday parks every night, you’ll be able to use appliances such as microwaves and electric heaters, but you can get away without an onboard bathroom. If you’re intending to freedom camp, you’ll need decent kitchen and bathroom facilities onboard, as well as a diesel or gas heater if you’re travelling in the cooler months. More on camping in New Zealand
When are you travelling? – If you’re travelling in winter, you’ll need to keep warm. Make sure you choose a vehicle that’s fully insulated and has heating. Unless you’re planning to stay in camping grounds and plug into power every night, you’ll need gas or diesel heating. A drying room in the vehicle can also be very handy, particularly if you’re planning on going skiing or surfing.
Where are you going? – New Zealand still has some unsealed roads. Many campervan companies restrict access to some roads – the most common ones to be restricted are Skippers Canyon road near Queenstown, Ball Hut Road at Mt Cook, north of Colville on the Coromandel Peninsula, and Ninety Mile Beach in Northland. If you’re planning to visit these or any other remote area, make sure you choose a campervan rental company that allows you to take your campervan there.
What do you need? – Don’t assume that the more fixtures and appliances the better. Too many extras can take up valuable space in your motorhome.
Driving – as well as staying in the campervan, you’re going to have to drive it! Do you need an automatic transmission or manual? Would you prefer a large powerful rig, or one that’s small and easy to park?
Safety – Have a think about the safety features you want from any vehicle you’re driving, and make sure your rental campervan includes these. There are many older models of ‘budget’ campervans on the New Zealand roads. These may be cheap, but they don’t have the safety features of the newer campervans.
On-road assistance – unless you have lots of time and can afford unexpected mishaps, it’s a good idea to make sure your campervan rental company provides 24 hour on-road assistance and a helpline, in case you have any problems. This means you have someone to contact if you have any mechanical problems with your vehicle on the road, or if you have any questions about how to operate the campervan itself.
Equipment – Not all New Zealand camper van companies are created equal when it comes to equipment! Some include everything you need such as towels and linen, kitchen equipment and cooking utensils, while others will charge extra for these. Also consider add-ons like child or baby seats, picnic tables or GPS systems. If you need them, make sure your campervan rental company provides them.
Insurance – Insurance policies and insurance excess amounts can differ quite a bit between campervan rental companies. Make sure you consider the excess payable, and what options you have to reduce or waive it. Some campervan rental companies offer an ‘all inclusive’ insurance package. Look at this closely – sometimes it works out cheaper to actually take an excess reduction package if you don’t need all the extras that are ‘thrown in’.
Bond – You will need to pay a bond at the start of your campervan hire to cover the liability of any damage to your campervan. The bond is refunded once your campervan has been safely returned. Be aware that most campervan rental companies will actually deduct the amount (which can be quite substantial) from your credit card. If you have a credit limit on your card, this can mean you have no money left for your campervan holiday! There’s also the risk of losing money on the exchange rate once the bond is refunded to you. The good news is that there are some campervan rental companies that only take an imprint of your card and don’t deduct any money from your account (unless you have an accident!).