Getting a Campervan in New Zealand

Our home for a year

One month from now, we, Robin and Laura, are embarking on a 12-month road trip of New Zealand. Of course, we can’t get anywhere without a vehicle. Our vehicle of choice is a Toyota Toyoace, a pretty beasty campervan that we will live, work and travel in for the year. A purchase like this isn’t as easy as buying your groceries, so we thought we’d share the process we went through to buy our campervan with you.

How to find a campervan for sale

Although there are quite a few ways to find a backpacker campervan in New Zealand, which we list in our 5 Ways to Find a Car for Sale in New Zealand, we found that TradeMe was coming up with the right results for us. TradeMe is New Zealand’s very own auction website and is mostly used by Kiwis buying and selling. That’s mainly because there’s a fee for listing vehicles on TradeMe, rather than buying and selling on Facebook groups like BackpackerGuide.NZ’s Facebook group for free, which backpackers trying to save money usually prefer.

When we saw a TradeMe listing for a campervan of a good size and price, we snapped up a viewing with the seller before engaging in a bidding war in a few days’ time.

Campervan inspection and test drive

Us two, we’re far from mechanics. I mean, just look at us. However, we have spent plenty of time with mechanics in writing Buying a Car in New Zealand Step 1: Car Inspection and Step 2: Test Drive for you guys, so we had a basic idea of telling the difference between a roadworthy campervan and a lemon. Follow the steps in the articles mentioned above to see how we inspected the vehicle.

In terms of the “living” area of the campervan, first impressions were made after the foisty smell licked our face at the opening of the cabin door. This thing seriously needed a clean! Strange aromas aside, the size and amenities of the living area were pretty impressive! As for getting the amenities to work, we could see a bit of do-it-yourself jobs for the future, like cupboards hanging off their hinges or getting the awning to fully extend. How we accomplished all the DIY is covered in our next blog post.

What’s more, the van is self-contained certified meaning we can go freedom camping for free all around New Zealand and have access to a lot more campsites. All in all, it’s a campervan fit for two ambitious backpackers!

Laura checks if the oil exists... Good start. Laura checks if the oil exists... Good start.
Robin prepares for his test drive. Robin prepares for his test drive.
Taking precise measurements. Taking precise measurements.

Engage bidding war!

Because this campervan was listed on TradeMe, that meant we would have to get the highest bid in order to buy the campervan. However, auctions can be a dangerous place where many a fool has got caught up in an expensive bidding war.

Down to the last minute, one competitive bidder duelled us to the bitter end, all the while keeping that price way under budget. Beem! We sniped the TradeMe user with seconds left to go. Mwahaha, the campervan is ours. Suck on that, LadiesMan217!

Pre-purchase inspection

Getting a car or campervan is likely to be the biggest expense a backpacker has in New Zealand, if that is how they plan to travel. For us, this campervan is the biggest expense in our lives, so getting a mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection was a must. This allows buyers to get a professional opinion on a vehicle before handing over your hard-earned cash to the seller. Although it’s hard to let a between NZ$100-150 go for a per-purchase inspection, it sure beats the potential cost of buying a shitty vehicle that needs constant repairs.

After an inspection by a professional, it was concluded that the campervan would be a good buy for our road trip. Hurray for us!

The Paperwork

When you buy a vehicle in New Zealand, you have to fill out a couple of forms with the seller to change ownership of the vehicle. We go into all the different types of paperwork you can have with a vehicle in Buying a Car in New Zealand Step 3: The Paperwork. In this case, we had the done the vehicle check online, seen the valid equivalent of a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) for heavy vehicles. Once we agreed to buy, we filled out the MR13A and MR13B form with the seller. The vehicle is now ours. Home sweet home.

Next time!

Until our next blog post, we have a date with some cleaning products in order to get rid of the van’s fowl stench. We’ll talk more about that and give you the full virtual tour of the campervan in our next blog post: Preparing the Campervan for a Year on the Road. In the meantime, here’s a 360 image of a campervan we didn’t buy. This was our ride away from the mechanics when we took our van for the pre-purchase inspection… Help us!

Laura and Robin

Awkward journey in a campervan we didn't buy
Awkward journey in a campervan we didn't buy Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more campervan stuff?

Embarking on your own New Zealand road trip? Be sure to check out our full Buying a Car in New Zealand guide. You can also get some tips on 5 Ways to Find a Car for Sale in New Zealand here.

For on the road photos and videos, follow us on Instagram and #BackpackerGuideNZ to be featured. We also share a lot more car-buying tips on our Facebook page.

We’ll see you next time on Preparing the Campervan!

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Comments
  1. Thanks for all the tips and links, me and my bf will buy a camper soon, this is super useful!

    Comment avatar kateTXT
    08/07/2016 at 2:08 am
  2. This excellent website truly has all of the information and facts I
    wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    Comment avatar Brittany
    17/05/2017 at 11:50 am
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