Renting a motorhome and travelling around New Zealand is a popular and relaxing way of seeing the country.
Campervans in New Zealand are available with either automatic or manual transmissions and with diesel or petrol engines. They will accommodate 2-6 people and are a great way to travel New Zealand. Some models are as small as a car, while others are fully loaded with a full sized fridge, shower and toilet.
The minimum rental period is generally 2-3 days. In high season (especially over Christmas/New Year) the minimum rental period is generally 10 days.
A driving licence with car entitlement is usually sufficient, provided it is accepted within New Zealand; except for a few very large campervans, a heavy vehicle licence is not needed. The minimum age for the driver is usually 25, but some companies specialize in renting to younger travellers.
The major locations for rental depots are Auckland and Christchurch, often near the airports. Some companies also have depots in Wellington, Coromandel Peninsula, Picton, Queenstown and Nelson. One-way trips are generally permitted but a fee may be levied.
Most of the suppliers have depots near the airports and will pick you up. If arriving by car, cars can normally be left at the depot. Before taking the motorhome, you will be given a half hour instruction / introduction so that you know how everything works.
The fuel tank should be full and the toilet should be empty. The vehicle must be returned in this state otherwise extra charges will be levied.
If travelling between the North and South Island, you will need to book the three-hour Cook Strait ferry trip with either The Interislander or Bluebridge. The ferries charge per vehicle, plus a fee for each passenger. The ferries are set up to keep you entertained with plenty of shops, cafes, and even a movie theatre! Check with your motorhome rental company, as they may have a partnership with a ferry company to get a better rate.
Some suppliers and brokers:
|Abuzzy Motorhomes||Auckland Airport|
|Apollo Motorhomes||Auckland City, Christchurch|
|Bedmobils||Auckland City||Finally a proper built bed with innerspring mattress in a camper.|
|Britz||Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Queenstown, Wellington||Operated by the same folks who operate Maui.|
|Camper Travel||Campervan broker|
|Cheapa Campa||Auckland, Christchurch|
|Discover NZ Motorhome Rentals||Nelson|
|Escape Camper Hire||Auckland, Christchurch|
|Euro Campers Campervan Hire||Family orientated motorhome company, also operates as Heron and Budgy Campers.|
|Fresh Rentals||Auckland, Christchurch|
|Happy Campers||Auckland, Christchurch||Operated by the same folks who operate Kiwi Campers (Happy Campers offers older equipment and lower rates).|
|Hippie Camper||Auckland, Christchurch|
|Jucy Rentals||Auckland City, Auckland Airport, Christchurch, Queenstown|
|Kea Campers||Auckland, Christchurch.|
|Kiwi Campers||Auckland, Christchurch||Operated by the same folks who operate Happy Campers (Kiwi offers newer equipment and higher rates).|
|Lucky Rentals||Auckand and Christchurch campervan operator with a guarantee of offering the best value 3 berth campervans in NZ.|
|Maui||Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Queenstown, Wellington||Operated by the same folks who operate Britz (Maui offers newer equipment and higher rates).|
|Motorhome Republic||Nationwide||Campervan broker|
|New Zealand Frontiers||Auckland||Smaller, personally operated company with excellent service according to reviews|
|PiwiWiwi Surf Campervans||Auckland, Hamilton, Raglan||Campervans aimed at Surfers, based in the beautiful town of Raglan|
|Rental Car Village||Auckland, Christchurch|
|RV New Zealand||Campervan broker|
|Travel Cars New Zealand||Auckland, Wellington||Campervans for sale and rent. Company based in central Auckland.|
|Walkabout Rentals||Auckland Airport, Christchurch|
|Wendekreisen||Auckland, Christchurch||A family owned campervan, motorhome and car hire company.|
The most common configurations are:
|Configuration||Low season||High season<|
|Two berth with no shower/toilet||50 (100)||190 (240)|
|Two berth with shower/toilet||70 (120)||240 (290)|
|Four berth with shower/toilet||80 (130)||280 (330)|
|Six berth with shower/toilet||100 (150)||300 (360)|
The rates are approximate guides in New Zealand dollars. Each rental day is counted as one. Maximise your time by collecting early and returning late. Low season is May to September and the high season is December to February. Booking is advised over the high season as most suppliers will rent out their entire stock.
The first figure will normally include unlimited kilometres, GST (local tax), insurance, nationwide road-side service, free phone helpline and a "Travel Wallet" including road maps. The second figure in brackets is the full cover insurance (assuming no excess) and includes road user charges if the vehicle is diesel powered, 1 camping table and 2 chairs and baby or booster seat(s).
If not using full coverage, a bond will be required. This is generally equal to the excess on the insurance option chosen. The standard insurance excess is around $2500 but can be as high as $7500 (The standard full coverage insurance costs around $15-35 per day). The bond is fully refundable if the vehicle has not been involved in an accident / break-in and is returned in a clean and undamaged condition.
IMPORTANT - You are advised to check your credit card company's insurance or to include the bond on your travel insurance. Many travel insurance companies cover rental vehicle bond but motorhomes are often excluded.
Most motorhomes will include stove, fridge, sink and bedding (often sleeping bags). The stove is gas-powered while the fridge normally has a gas/ mains option. The motorhome has an outside power lead to plug into the mains in camping grounds. In this mode, everything (except the stove) will be mains powered. Hot water is mains heated. Some motorhomes also include a shower and/or toilet.
Driving a campervanEdit
- Main article: Driving in New Zealand
Driving a campervan or motorhome in New Zealand is not difficult, but it helps to learn a few things before you arrive jet-lagged. Overseas drivers are twice as likely to be 'at-fault' in an injury or fatal accident in New Zealand. Many rental vehicle companies request that hirers take a short tourist Road Code quiz.
Roads in New Zealand twist and turn and passing lanes are not always present. Remember that you are driving a truck and so will not be able to travel that fast anyway. Allow for a normal speed of 80 km per hour. Please be courteous and pull over where possible to allow the queue of traffic behind to pass. Being self-contained, you can stretch your legs and brew a cuppa at the same time while admiring the view.
Many rental companies include clauses in the rental agreement that the campers can not be taken on Skippers Road (Queenstown), Ninety Mile Beach (Northland), Ball Hut Road (Mt. Cook) and North of Colville Township (Coromandel Peninsula).
The larger the motorhome, the less chance it will fit into a standard parking place. You may need to find two adjoining ones or else walk to the supermarket. Be aware of the vertical height of your motorhome if parking in a parkade or multi-storey car park.
Ask for a fully-serviced (powered) motorhome site. This will normally have a plug-in power point, drain and water. A number of camping grounds have dump points to dump the toilet cassette. Remember to fill up the water tank. Most will have a communal kitchen, laundering and bathing facilities if you find that the motorhome facilities are a bit cramped. Most also have a TV / games room. The cost is around $10-17 per person per day. Over school holidays and especially during the high season, it is a good idea to book beforehand.
Some motor camps only allow use for overnighting travellers, others will charge for the service. Grey waste (shower/sink) should also be poured into these or down a drain in the motor camp. Do not empty grey water into any watercourse, stormwater drain, swampy ground, sea foreshore etc. as this is environmentally damaging.
Most local authorities now forbid freedom camping (with a few alibi exemptions). Local councils can charge an infringement fee of $200 per freedom camp. If you left your credit card details with the renting company, the fine may be automatically deducted, plus an "administration fee" from the company. Local accommodation providers often lobby against free camping and this is another reason for the reduction in free camping locations. Councils employ private security firms to monitor known freedom camping spots. The Thames Coast Road from Thames to Coromandel offers many such promising freedom camping areas, but it is strictly prohibited on the Coromandel Peninsula.
There is some risk in camping in isolated places although physical attacks are few and far between. Always ensure your doors are locked and windows are up.
Campervans are at risk in secluded car parks in low-traffic areas. Most car parks have warning signs that thieves could operate in the area. Ensure that valuables are secure and hidden from view. Thefts occur in the cities as well as in the country. Take important documents with you whenever possible.