The Essential Guide to Renting a Campervan in New Zealand
What you need to know about renting a campervan in New Zealand.
The great New Zealand road trip is an awesome way to explore the country! Renting a campervan embodies the outdoors of New Zealand, which is essentially what travelling in New Zealand is all about. However, renting a campervan in New Zealand requires some planning to make your trip as awesome as possible. That’s where this essential guide to rental and campervan in New Zealand comes in!
We’ll go through budgeting for a campervan rental, what restrictions you might find, where you can actually camp in a campervan, how to choose the right campervan vehicle for you, how to choose a rental company and finally, what to expect when booking and paying for your rental. With that, you’ll be ready to explore the landscapes, epic activities, wildlife and culture that New Zealand has to offer!
Can you afford to rent a campervan in New Zealand?
Well, that would be helpful wouldn’t it? Like any trip, you need to budget, but perhaps even more so when campervan rental often has more costs than what meets the eye. Consider the following costs when budgeting for a campervan trip around New Zealand:
- Transport to and from New Zealand – See How to Book a Cheap Flight to New Zealand
- The base price of renting a campervan
- Campervan insurance
- Young driver’s fee
- Additional driver’s fee
- One way fee
- Ferry crossing – See Ferry Between the North Island and South Island
- Optional extras – GPS, snow chains, picnic tables and chairs, etc.
- Fuel consumption
- Campground or holiday park costs
- Food – See Food Shopping in New Zealand
- Activities – See What is the Cost of Backpacking in New Zealand?
For a closer look at rental costs, take a look at How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in New Zealand?, as well as how to save money in 20 Ways To Save Money on Car Rental in New Zealand
Campervan rental restrictions
While there are not that many restrictions for renting a campervan in New Zealand, here are a couple that may affect you.
You can rent a vehicle in New Zealand as long as you have a full valid drivers license that is written in English. If you don’t, make sure you get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to accompany your driving license. You will need both. Find out more about the IDP on Why You Need an International Driving Permit for New Zealand.
Age of driver
Your age determines what type of campervan you can rent. You can usually rent a campercar and small campervan if you are 18+ without a problem, although some rental companies may include a surcharge if you are under 25 years old. For motorhome rental, most companies prefer the driver to be 21 years old and over. Find out more about possible age restrictions on Age Restrictions When Renting a Vehicle in New Zealand.
Where to camp in a campervan
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot just park up anywhere and camp the night in a campervan. There are restrictions in place in order to keep New Zealand beautiful so you need to be a responsible camper when hiring a campervan in New Zealand.
To recharge the power in your camper, dump your waste and get some quick comforts, you’re likely to use a holiday park at least once on your campervan road trip in New Zealand. Holiday parks have powered sites and non-powered sites to park up your vehicle and make use of their facilities, including dump stations, kitchens, laundry, showers and sometimes more. To see what a holiday park is like in New Zealand, take a look at Accommodation Guide to Holiday Parks in New Zealand
Campsites / Campgrounds
Campsites are a little more basic than holiday park, offering much fewer facilities. For this reason, they are cheaper (sometimes even free) and have the bare essentials to keep the environment tidy. Most of the campsites are run by the Department of Conservation (DOC). Find out more in What is the Difference Between a Campsite and a Holiday Park?
Park over property
Some landowners allow self-contained vehicles to stay on their property overnight for a small fee.
If you have a certified self-contained campervan, your campervan will have a blue sticker on it and it should be obvious when you are looking at the vehicle specifications if it is self-contained or not, then you can camp for free for up to three days in certain areas around the country. Each district and region have their own rules about this, so you should do your research before arriving in an area to park up and camp the night. Take a look at our Camping Guides for some of the main freedom camping locations around New Zealand.
Choose a camping vehicle
From small campercars to 6-berth motorhomes, you are spoiled for choice with the types of rental campervans on offer in New Zealand. Choosing a campervan to rent depends on budget, how many people you are travelling with, comfort and how easy the vehicle is to drive.
The smallest type of camper is a campercar. They are the size of an SUV/people-mover with the seats taken out and replaced with a bed/dining and seating area. There is also likely to be a fold-out kitchen area out of the back of the car. They are the cheapest options, easiest to drive, and likely to be the most uncomfortable.
The size of a van or minibus, campervans are the most popular option among backpackers because they have enough space for all your essential amenities, such as a kitchen and possibly a toilet. These vans can usually sleep two to four people at a push yet still feel compact as they tend to be filled with more features. They may even come certified self-contained meaning you can freedom camp (more on that above).
These are larger vehicles which usually come fully self-contained with everything you need including a kitchen, toilet, shower with hot and cold water, bedding for multiple people, a dining area and more. They are by far the more comfortable and spacious type of camping vehicle but that comes at a higher rental price.
For a more in-depth look at the type of camping vehicles you can rent in New Zealand, take a look at Which Campervan Rental Vehicle is Right for You?
Choose a campervan rental company
There’s no right or wrong answer. If anything, you will experience extreme decision fatigue when comparing the campervan rental companies in New Zealand.
It’s not just about comparing the prices when choosing a campervan rental company. You will need to consider:
- Availability of campervan types
- Any age restrictions
- What the service is like
- What’s included
- Additional costs like insurance
Choosing a rental company should not be a quick decision so really take the time to find the right one for your needs. Check out How to Compare Car and Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand for more advice.
Booking and picking up a campervan rental
After having a quick look at 20 Ways To Save Money on Car Rental in New Zealand so you have no regrets, start booking your campervan rental. You will either have to pay in full or put down a deposit when booking your campervan rental. Most deposits are non-refundable.
If you are required to put down a deposit then you will pay for the rest of the price when you pick up the vehicle – not after. Don’t worry if you have forgotten to add any optional extras, as the campervan rental company will be delighted to sell these items to you on the day of pick-up. Be aware that if you are dropping your campervan off in a different location to where you picked it up, you are likely to have to pay a one-way fee which is usually around NZ$300.
Finally, on pick-up be sure to inspect every dent or scratch of the vehicle with the rental company employee so you are not charged for any damage you did not cause to the vehicle. And now you are ready to hit the road! Make sure you know How to Drive in New Zealand. Keep left!
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