Renting a Campervan in New Zealand
There are so many New Zealand camper van rental companies, offering so many options, that it can be very difficult to make a decision about which one of the thousands of New Zealand rental camper vans you should choose. (Note: in New Zealand, ‘camper van’ or ‘campervan’ and ‘motorhome’ mean the same thing.)
If you are 100% set on having the best holiday you have ever had, make sure you do your research and get the campervan you have always dreamed about – don’t settle for anything less. A good place to start is by reading what people are saying about the company you are looking to travel with.
Check out independent reviews on campervan rental companies
There are so many things to be wary of when you are travelling in winter. First and foremost is warmth – the last thing you want to do is to be freezing and uncomfortable as you travel around New Zealand. Then there is safety on the roads – you will need ABS braking and snow chains if you plan on going anywhere in the South Island during winter. Here’s some more information on renting a campervan in New Zealand during the winter months.
Do you already know what your itinerary will be? There are still quite a few unsealed roads in New Zealand (though the major tourist attractions are easily accessible by sealed road). Make sure you know whether you’re allowed to drive on unsealed roads or not before you head off on your journey. Most campervan companies restrict you from driving on Skippers Road (Queenstown), Ninety Mile Beach (Northland), Ball Hut Road (Mt. Cook) and north of Colville Township (Coromandel Peninsula). Each company will have different rental comditions. Wilderness Motorhomes, for example, allows you to drive on all but one: Ninety Mile beach.
Do you want to stay at commercial campsites only, which all have toilets, showers, and (most of the time) well equipped kitchens, free to use? (See our page about New Zealand camping sites.) Or do you want to stay in beautiful national parks? Department of Conservation campsites have sometimes only very basic facilities (not much more than a cold water tap and a pit toilet). This can be one of the reasons you might prefer a camper van that has its own shower and toilet. If you plan to do a lot of free camping, a waste water storage tank can also be very convenient. Just empty the storage tank the next time you stay in a camping ground..
What size rental camper van do you need? Don’t only think about the number in your group, also think of their age. If you have small children, it will be more convenient for you if their sleeping area is well apart from the living area. Also, make sure your campervan is big enough to sleep the number of people who are travelling, but small enough to not be a burden. The roads in New Zealand are windy and hilly and the last thing you want is to be unable to reach the rugged coastlines and hidden beauties because you’re driving a ‘truck’ rather than a campervan.
Do you prefer one of the brand new New Zealand rental camper vans, a late model (with a maximum age of 5 years) or is an older model ok for you too? A point to bear in mind when tossing up between old and new is the safety of the vehicle. Newer vehicles tend to be in better condition and likewise, they are often well maintained and regularly serviced.
How old are you? Though the minimum driver age in New Zealand is 18 years, most New Zealand camper van rental companies require that you are over 21 to rent a camper van; sometimes you even need to be over 23 or 25 years of age. There are also rental companies that require a medical certificate stating that you are fit to drive when you are over the age of 75.
Number of drivers
Is there more than one person in your group that will be driving the camper van? Some New Zealand camper van rental companies charge for extra drivers; some don’t.
When comparing prices – make sure you check what is included in the rate and whether it is free unlimited km’s or if you have to pay for mileage alongside Road User charges (or diesel tax). Check how much the bond is, how it is taken, whether comprehensive insurance is covered in the daily hire rate and if you will need to pay for added extras like tables, chairs, BBQ, snow chains etc.
Do you want to rent a camper van for a few days only? Or do you plan to travel around for a few months? Most New Zealand motor camper van rental companies have a minimum rental period of 5 days or more and some offer long rental discounts.
One way rental
Do you want to collect your camper van in Auckland and drop it off in Christchurch? With some New Zealand camper van rental companies, you’ll need to pay a relocation or one-way rental fee to do this; with others, it’s free.
Does the rental company offer free transfer from the airport or your hotel to their depot? What is the km range within which you can make use of this free transport?
Not all New Zealand camper van rental companies offer the same equipment for their vehicles, such as linen, bedding, towels, cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils. Sometimes you’ll have to pay extra for a picnic table and chairs for example. Some camper vans even come with a tent!
Do you have to pay a cleaning fee when returning your camper van?
Does the campervan rental company offer nationwide 24 hour road side assistance and/or a freephone helpline, in case you have any problems with your vehicle?
What is included in the insurance the New Zealand camper van rental company offers? Besides damage to the property of a third party, does the insurance also cover damage to your camper van by theft and vandalism for example? And what about damage to the windscreens or tyres? Some insurance policies cover this free of charge.
What is the standard excess, the amount of money you have to pay in the event of any damage to your camper van or to third party property? The excess is always applicable, regardless of who is at fault. The standard excess can differ a lot between New Zealand rental companies, but is usually between NZD$4,500 and NZD$7,500 And what are the possibilities for excess reduction the rental company offers?
To cover the liability of any damage to your motor home, you’ll have to pay a bond at the beginning of the rental period. But be aware: when using your credit card for this purpose, most rental companies will actually debit the amount from your card, whereas a few only take an imprint of your card and don’t deduct any money from your account (unless you have an accident). When you have a credit limit on your card, the first scenario can mean that there’s almost no money left on your card for the rest of your New Zealand camper van vacation! Besides, when this bond is refunded at the end of your holiday, you risk losing money, as you’ll have to accept the exchange rate applicable at the moment of refund.