Are you dreaming of travelling and exploring the spectacular sights of New Zealand in a campervan? But fear the expensive rental rates? If so, in this article we share our hot tips and hints on how to find a cheaper campervan hire option in New Zealand. For those who wish to rent rather than buy a vehicle, these tips will surely allow you to make great savings for your stay in NZ.
Table of Contents
Why hire a campervan in New Zealand?
Travelling by campervan in New Zealand is truly the best option for exploring the country. About 2000 km long from north to south, the island is still very wild. And tourists come above all here to discover nature and go hiking. If you hire a campervan, it will allow you to travel as you please while being as close as possible to nature in New Zealand. So if you plan to visit New Zealand in one to several weeks, hiring a campervan is really a very good option.
Another alternative is to rent a car and stay in a hotel. This requires you to carefully plan your trip from the start to ensure you find accommodation at each stage (beware of isolated regions and summer periods where accommodation can be fully booked several weeks in advance).
Generally, a campervan hire is also cheaper in New Zealand. If you plan to spend several months on the island, you could consider buying a vehicle and reselling it at the end of your stay. In this case, allow 1 to 3 weeks to find a buyer. You can visit both islands (North and South) in 2 to 3 weeks via Auckland to Christchurch. If you only have 7 to 10 days, in this case, we recommend that you focus on one of the two islands.
This tool will allow you to compare the prices of the different models of campervans/motorhomes with all agencies present in New Zealand. To get the best rates for your vehicle hire in New Zealand, use Motorhome Republic:
How to pay less for your campervan rental in New Zealand?
One of the best ways to reduce the price of a campervan or motorhome rental is to use a comparator. Online comparison tools offer advantageous rates and allow you to benefit from all the best deals. MotorHome Republic is the leader in Australia & New Zealand and works with more than 50 suppliers, offering you a wide range of vehicles.
Use a price comparison tool
As an agent, MotorHome Republic has discounted rates from various vehicle suppliers. So you will pay less for a rental than if you went directly to the site of a rental company. On average a rental company manages to put only about 30% of its vehicles on the roads, so for the remaining 70%, they need agents to help to rent them, hence reduced rates.
You also have a section dedicated to current promotional offers. So if you are a little flexible on your dates and/or cities of departure and arrival, do not hesitate to consult this page: Motorhome Republic – Special offers
Get 5% off your campervan rental with Travellers Autobarn
You can benefit from 5% discount thanks to our promo code with Travellers Autobarn. This company is very well-known among backpackers. They have many models of campervans and are present all around Australia. To benefit from the offer, all you have to do is enter the promo code ‘GuideEN’ on their website:
5% discount on your campervan rental
Hire a campervan and benefit from a 5% discount thanks to our promo code with Travellers Autobarn: GuideEN.
NB: You have to make a reservation of at least 10 days to take advantage of this promotion. The discount applies to the daily rate. Insurance and equipment are excluded. The offer is only valid for bookings made directly on the Travellers Autobarn website.
How to lower your rental price
Availability and therefore prices change depending on the season you decide to rent in. The peak travel season in New Zealand is from November – February as well as school holidays and long weekends. During these periods’ prices increase and instead of paying $30 NZD per day during the low season, you will be paying up to $100 NZD for the exact same vehicle.
The type of vehicle
The newer the vehicle and the better it is equipped, the more you have to pay. If you want a vehicle that is fully sel-sufficient, known as self-contained vehicles, with a shower, toilet and kitchen built-in, then you will be paying a lot more than for a basic campervan setup. Occasionally it is more cost-effective to hire a basic campervan in New Zealand and pay $30 – 45 NZD per night for campsites.
The longer you hire a campervan in New Zealand, the cheaper the daily rate becomes. Usually suppliers set different levels; +7days, +14days, +21days, +30days.. For example, if you are planning to do 2 rentals at 2 different locations.
Book in advance
As the plane tickets, the fares vary according to availability. So when there are very few vehicles available, prices go up. It is therefore strongly recommended to book in advance to benefit from the best rates. The earlier you book the cheaper it is.
Choose cities of departure and arrival wisely
In New Zealand there are two main cities: Auckland and Christchurch. In Auckland and Christchurch, you’ll find lots of campervan hire companies at cheaper prices than anywhere else in New Zealand. We recommend to not rent your camper in towns like Queenstown, Picton and Dunedin as their rates are relatively higher. If you want to do a one-way road trip between Christchurch and Auckland keep in mind that it’s cheaper to hire a van in Christchurch due to most of the tourists arriving in Auckland New Zealand. Also note that companies charge extra fees for one-way rentals.
Price of the Ferry
With some rental companies, the use of ferries is allowed. This can be more convenient and sometimes is even cheaper. Check prices on Interislander: www.interislander.co.nz
Choosing the right insurance and equipment options
It is very important to budget for insurance. The first price displayed on the sites when you initially search only includes so-called “standard” insurance. This is free – and compulsory. It corresponds to third party insurance, i.e. it will cover bodily injury (only) inflicted on a third party in the event of an accident. If you wish to take out “full” insurance so as not to risk losing your deposit (between 2,500 NZD and 7,500 NZD), you will have to budget for between 25 and 50 NZD per day in addition to the price of the vehicle.
Also note that the equipment is extra (camping table & chairs, GPS, child seats, etc.). Take this into account when calculating your rental budget.
What type of Campervan should you choose?
Choose the model of your campervan
In order to choose the right vehicle it is essential to list your main criteria and get an idea of the rental rates. But overall, the choice will be between the following models:
- Classic campervan (low top)
- Van with a raised roof (hitop)
- Motorhome (with shower/toilet)
Thanks to the Motorhome Republic comparison tool, there are many filters you can use, such as the number of travellers, the type of equipment desired etc. This will save you a lot of time in comparing prices.
The level of comfort varies depending on the model of van. The larger the van, the more it is fitted out. Like all vehicle types, heating and air conditioning are available in the driver’s cabin. This equipment is essential in New Zealand because the temperatures are very variable. All vans are equipped with a minimum of one bed and kitchenware. The additional equipment that can be found in some low-top and high-top models is a sink, fridge, microwave and dry toilets in some cases. Self-contained type vans may contain a shower and may provide hot water.
For a van to be considered “self-contained” it must have the following equipment:
- A tank of clean water for consumption
- A sink
- A waste water tank
- A drain for wastewater
- A trash can
- Toilet portable or fixed
Campervan equipment comparison:
|Toilet||Depends on the model||Depends on the model|
|Air conditioner||Driver's cab||Driver's cab||Driver's cab|
|Heater||Driver's cab||Driver's cab||Driver's cab|
|Type of kitchen||Rear of vehicle||Rear of vehicle||Inside|
The rental companies
There are many companies to choose from for your campervan hire in New Zealand. Most are located in Auckland and Christchurch. Here are the main rental companies :
- Premium Range: Britz, Apollo
- Mid-range: Travelers Autobarn, Jucy rentals, Cheapa Campa, Mighty, Camperman, Wendekreisen, Freedom Campers
- Budget campers: Lucky Rentals, Hippie Camper, Spaceships, Happy Campers, Budget Campers
Also, be aware that it is quite rare that the agencies have more than 2 or 3 depots where you can pick-up or drop-off your rental. Generally, the rental companies are located in Auckland and Christchurch. You should, therefore, avoid choosing routes for the departure or arrival of small towns such as Dunedin, Queenstown or Wellington.
The most important thing in your choice is expected to remain the type of vehicle rather than the company (except for the aspect of reception/customer service and insurance if you take the insurance of the renter).
The different types of insurance for a rental
Insurance of your rental vehicle is essential to avoid unpleasant surprises. Admittedly, this is not a very sexy subject, but once you understand how it works you can save a lot of money and avoid big problems! To summarise your options in the simplest way, remember that you have 4 options:
This type of insurance does not pay out. In this case, so-called “standard” insurance is included in the price of the vehicle (compulsory) but you must leave a deposit with the rental company ($ 2,500 for a small van up to $ 7,500 for a motorhome). This is third party insurance, allowing you to be covered if you ever cause damage to other people. But in case of vehicle damage, you will not be covered. So in the event of an accident, the rental company will use part or all of your deposit to cover the repairs.
Credit Card Insurance
Ask your bank, sometimes credit cards offer insurance on car rental. By cons check the type of vehicle supported. Very often they only cover cars (not vans or motorhomes). If ever you are covered, it is not necessarily necessary to take out additional insurance. On the other hand, you will still have to advance the deposit to the renter, and from experience, it is generally complicated and long to get reimbursed.
Rental insurance from the rental agency
All rental companies offer different types of insurance. The advantage of taking out their insurance is that you can reduce your deposit as much as possible (sometimes up to 0). For so-called “full” insurance, count at least 25 NZD per day (in addition to the price of the vehicle), up to 60 NZD for a large motorhome. On the other hand, read the conditions of cover carefully because unfortunately, most rental companies do not cover certain types of accidents. For example, it is rare for a rental company to cover accidents during night driving, when you roll over without any other vehicle involved, or if you damage the rocker panel, the roof, the windshield and the tires.
Most of the time private insurance is cheaper than more comprehensive insurance. The only drawback is that you still have to advance the deposit to the rental company. Because in the event of an accident, the rental company will use the deposit to pay for repairs. In parallel, you will have to file a claim to the insurance company to get reimbursed. There are many companies that offer this type of service and they are very effective (online complaints, short repayment periods, etc.).
Comparison table for campervan rental insurance
What budget should you plan for a Road Trip in NZ?
Even if the cost of living is quite similar to our European countries, gasoline and the rental of the vehicle (if necessary) will represent a significant part of your budget. Activities and campsites can also be quite expensive.
The average budget for 3 weeks and for 2 people in a campervan
Here is an estimate of the average budget to plan for 3 weeks of a road trip in a campervan, sleeping mainly in free camps:
- Hire a Campervan (self-contained) in New Zealand with full insurance: $3000
- Fuel: $1,000 ($2 per liter)
- Ferry: $300 per crossing
- Food: $400
- Accommodation: $100 (Camping: up to $25 the campsite managed by the DOC or hostel: up to $30)
- Activities: $800
- Showers: $100 ($5 per shower)
TOTAL: 5,600 NZD, or 2,800 NZD per person
Some tips to save money
- Activities: Look at discounts on Bookme
- Food: Go to Pack N Save / buy the fruit on the stands along the roads
- Petrol: Ask for the AA loyalty card (at Caltex and BP stations)
- Ferry: Find promo codes (you can get up to $80 savings)
Where to sleep with a campervan in New Zealand?
There is strict legislation on camping in New Zealand.
If you want to sleep on free campsites, you must have a “self contained” or “self sufficient” vehicle. The van must not rely on external resources and must be able to contain its waste for at least 3 days to qualify as “self-sufficient”. Self-contained vehicles can be recognised by the blue sticker on their windscreens. Most of these are motorhomes.
If you hire or buy a small vehicle that is not self-contained, you will have to spend the nights at paying campsites.
⚠️ Attention: Wild camping is illegal in New Zealand.
Advice for driving in New Zealand
New Zealand as a country is particularly well-suited to motorhome/van travel. Here are a few tips for driving smoothly in New Zealand:
- Driving is on the left-hand side of the road.
- Speed limits are regulated. On main roads, the speed limit is generally 100 km/h.
- The roads are winding (South Island), so drive with caution and allow for a longer journey than indicated on your GPS!
The main cities of the country (Auckland and Wellington) are located on the North Island. It is for this reason that the majority of the Maori population live there. On this part of the country you can see its numerous volcanoes and its magnificent coasts. There are also many small islands to visit around.
The South Island is wilder. It is a great place to hike and discover the local flora and fauna. The South Island is interesting to visit for its landscapes (mountains, fjords, beaches …)
How long to plan to visit the North Island? The North Island can be visited between 15 and 25 days.
How long to plan to visit the South Island? To visit the South Island it takes at least 2 weeks with stops of around 2 days. If you want to spend more time visiting the villages you will have to extend the duration of the trip to 3 weeks.
What budget to plan for a road trip in New Zealand? For a 15-day trip as a couple, it costs around 2500NZD or 1500 €.