Hiring a motorhome in New Zealand is without a doubt the best way to discover this magnificent country! It allows you to save money on accommodation and offers you more freedom when it comes to exploring the lesser known parts of the islands. But hiring a motorhome in New Zealand isn’t always easy or affordable, especially when it comes to choosing what kind of model you want, what company is the best and what kind of insurance you’re going to take out. We have put together the guide below to help you.
Table of Contents
Motorhome hire comparison
One of the best ways to compare motorhomes in New Zealand is using the website Motorhome Republic. Their search engine compares different models and prices simultaneously to give you the best possible deal, which you can then book directly online (at no additional cost). You also find special offers and sales.
Motorhome hire prices in New Zealand
Renting a motorhome in New Zealand can be quite expensive, especially during school holidays (during Christmas holidays in particular). So if you plan to travel between December and January, you should increase your budget and make your booking as soon as possible!
Motorhome prices vary according to the agency, the availability and the season. The sooner you book your motorhome, the better prices you’re likely to get. Booking a motorhome two or three months in advance will be much cheaper than booking one a week before you’re leaving! Especially in peak season, it is quite common for companies to no longer have any vehicles available for the following 3 to 4 weeks.
Also good to know: the daily rates will be lower if you rent a motorhome for a long period of time. Newer and/or better equipped vehicles will obviously be more expensive.
Examples of prices
How to rent a cheap motorhome
There are a few things you can do to rent a motorhome on the cheap in New Zealand. As previously mentioned, the first thing you should do is book as soon as possible.
Here are a few more tips to get the price down:
- Choose an older model.
- Be flexible on your dates, and if you can, avoid renting during high season (school holidays).
- Book your motorhome in advance, as prices tend to increase as the rental date approaches and demand increases.
- Pick up your motorhome in one of the two main cities (Auckland or Christchurch).
- Rates are often lower for rentals from Christchurch to Auckland (rather than the other way around). Tourists often arrive in Auckland and leave from Christchurch, so rental companies will want to rent their vehicles out in Christchurch to bring them back to Auckland.
- Rent for more than 7 or 14 consecutive days to save money on your daily rate.
- Use a price comparison website.
- Look for promo codes or special offers: Special motorhome rental offers.
Save 5% on campervan rentals
Rent your van in Australia for cheaper with Travelers Autobarn thanks to our promo code: GUIDEEN
Where to rent a motorhome in New Zealand?
If you are planning a road trip in New Zealand, it is important to plan your itinerary according to the seasons, points of interest, travel period etc. The most popular city to arrive in is Auckland.
The most popular route is to go from Auckland to Christchurch, crossing the island from North to South. Renting a motorhome in Auckland will allow you to explore the region and even reach the South Island by ferry. If you drop off your vehicle in another city, however, note that you will have to pay an additional ‘one-way fee’.
It’s often cheaper to rent a motorhome in Christchurch and return it in Auckland. So check if this itinerary could work with your flights/itinerary and other requirements.
Some travellers choose to visit only one of the islands (either North or South) and return their vehicle in the same city where they collected it. To visit the North Island, it is also possible to cross the entire North Island from Auckland to Wellington. However, there are fewer rental companies and prices are higher in Wellington.
To visit the South Island, you can do a loop around Christchurch from north to south (or vice versa) or decide to visit only the north or south part of the South Island. Other cities where you can rent a motorhome include Nelson (very few rental companies), Dunedin (again, very few rental companies) and Queenstown (more companies).
renting a motorhome are Nelson (very few rental companies), Dunedin (very few rental companies) and Queenstown (more common).
Motorhome models and equipment in New Zealand
As a reminder, we use the term “motorhome” for self-sufficient vehicles, equipped with a shower and toilet. How equipped your vehicle is is important because camping rules are very strict in New Zealand. Some camping sites (free or paid) will only accept self-contained vehicles. If you rent a motorhome as opposed to a campervan, you will have more choice as to where to spend your nights.
You will also have to choose between different sizes of motorhomes, from 2-seater to 6-seater models. You will definitely find one that meets your needs. For those traveling with children, make sure the features of the vehicle are suitable for your children’s ages. For instance, some vehicles don’t have a car seat anchor point.
2-seater motorhomes often come from the same manufacturer (Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter), which are all pretty similar. They are equipped with a double bed in the back, which can be converted into a bench with dining table. They have a small fitted kitchenette in the front, with a shower cabin just behind the driver’s seat.
Due to its size, this model is easy to drive and doesn’t need much petrol. It is obviously suitable for singles or couples.
3-seater motorhomes are not very common. As they are not generally much larger than 2-seater motorhomes, they can only accommodate a couple and a child.
The 4-seater motorhome is probably the most popular model. Equipped with 2 double beds, it is ideal for families or couples. If you are a group of friends, you’ll have to share beds, so it will get pretty cosy!
4-seater motorhomes come with a large double bed in the front of the vehicle, which is convertible into a bench with a table. There’s a second double bed above the front seats. The kitchen area, as well as the shower and toilet cabin, are at the rear of the vehicle.
Most of these models are Volkswagen or Mercedes (ranging from 10 to 2 years old).
These models are hard to find. Some companies offer vehicles called “4 + 1” to accommodate 4 adults and a child.
These are the largest models available in New Zealand. With 3 large beds, there is enough space for a family or a group of friends. These are also a good option for 4 people who need a larger living space. In this case, you can leave one of the converted beds set up as a table, so you don’t have to undo the bed every morning.
Most motorhomes are very well equipped. At the very least, you will have a place to cook and sleep. But depending on the brands and models, you might get some extra equipment included. Make sure you read all the details of your motorhome closely when making your booking. Here’s a brief description of the equipment that is either included or optional:
- Beds (double, single or children beds)
- Kitchenette with all of the necessities (sink with electric pump tap, microwave, hob, fridge / freezer, cooking utensils, kettle, sponges, detergent)
- Shower cabin with toilet
- Lounge area with a table and benches
- Storage spaces
- Sponge and washing up liquid
- Broom and shovel
- DVD player
- Bedding and towels
- Child seats
- Camping table and chairs
Motorhome and campervan rental companies in New Zealand
There are a number of motorhome rental companies in New Zealand. Most of them are located in Auckland and Christchurch. Here are the main rental companies, divided by price range.
High end/mid-range companies: Apollo, Kea, Maui, Britz, Wendekreisen, Star RV, Freedom Campers, Jucy, Pacific Horizon.
Low-budget companies: Mighty, Budget Campers, Lucky Rentals, Cheapa Campa, Happy Campers.
Motorhome rental insurance
When renting a motorhome in New Zealand, standard insurance is always included in the rental price. This insurance only covers personal injury inflicted on third parties. It does not cover any material damage of the rental vehicle or other vehicles. For this reason, the rental agent will ask you to pay a deposit when picking up the motorhome. They usually charge the money to your account, so make sure you have the funds available! The amount to be paid depends on the company and type of vehicle. For a campervan, deposits are usually between 2,500 and 3,000 NZD. For a motorhome, expect to be charged between 5,000 and 7,500 NZD.
If you don’t want take any risks, make sure you get comprehensive insurance. Your deposit will then be reduced to a minimum amount (generally nothing or 250 NZD).
But it is also possible to take out private insurance or use the coverage offered by your credit card (check with your bank beforehand). If you want more information on motorhome rental insurance, we recommend that you take a look at our dedicated article: Motorhome insurance options in Australia and NZ.
What to check when inspecting your motorhome?
When renting a motorhome, it is very important to check the condition of the vehicle and its equipment before you drive off. If it’s your first time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and tell yourself you’ll look at everything properly later. However, it is always better to find out about any issues as soon as possible. Certain malfunctions can make your trip less enjoyable, and it is difficult to arrange repairs when you’re on holiday. Remember that you may have to prove that you are not responsible for any malfunctions.
These are few things to have a look at before hitting the road:
- First make sure that you got the model you booked. If the vehicle you booked is not available, you may be offered an alternative. In this case, you should get an upgrade or a discount.
- Thoroughly inspect the outside of the vehicle and let the rental agent know of even the slightest scratch.
- Take pictures as evidence of the initial condition of the vehicle.
- Ask questions about how everything works (electricity, shower, waste water, battery charging etc.)
- Also be sure to read your contract to be aware of what the insurance will not cover, and any additional costs.
Where to sleep with your motorhome in New Zealand?
Be aware that wild camping is prohibited in New Zealand. Legislation is strict on camping pitches in the country, and only “self contained” vehicles can park in free camping areas for the night.
Self-contained vehicles are “self sufficient”. That is to say that the vehicle does not require external resources and must be able to contain its waste for a minimum of 3 days. Self-contained vehicles can be recognised by a blue sticker on the windshield. These are usually motorhomes. So if you rent a motorhome with this little blue sticker, no worries! You can choose to spend your nights on the free areas or go to paid campsites.
To find the parking areas or campsites on your route, you can refer to the guide which is usually provided when you rent a vehicle. Alternatively, you can download the Wikicamp or Campermate apps, which list points of interest, campsites, rest areas, etc. This will be very useful to you during your stay.
Driving in New Zealand: What you need to know
New Zealand is a country particularly suitable for travel by motorhome / van. The country has well-maintained roads, mostly paved.
Here are some tips on how you can drive safely around New Zealand:
- In New Zealand driving is on the left-hand side of the road, which is important to remember!
- You will need an international driving license to rent a vehicle and drive on New Zealand roads.
- Speed limits are regulated and well marked. On main roads, the speed limit is generally 100 km/h.
- You must wear a seatbelt and children aged 7 and under need a restraint.
- New Zealand has more sheep than people, so watch out for animals on the roads!
- Some roads are unpaved. Check the rental conditions of the vehicle and if you can take these roads while remaining covered by your insurance.
- The roads are quite winding in some areas (on the south island), so drive with caution, especially in a motorhome. So plan a longer journey time than indicated on your GPS!
New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary Ideas
The choice between the South or North Island depends on your travel plans.
The main cities in New Zealand, Auckland and Wellington, are on the north island. In this part of the country, you can see its many volcanoes and its magnificent coasts. There are also many small islands to visit. The North Island can be visited in between 10 and 21 days.
10 day North Island itinerary
If you are planning a 10-day trip, you can discover the following itinerary:
- Coromandel Peninsula
- Tongariro Crossing
14-20 day North Island itinerary
If you have between fifteen and twenty days, we invite you to follow the following itinerary:
- Paihia / Cape Reinga
- Waitomo Caves
- Hamilton / Hobbiton
- Tongariro Crossing
The South Island is more wild. It is an ideal place for hiking and discovering the local fauna and flora. The South Island is interesting to visit for its landscapes (mountains, fjords, beaches etc.) It will take at least 2 weeks to see the South Island properly, stopping for 2 days at each point of interest. If you want to spend more time visiting the villages, give yourself 3 weeks.
15 day South Island itinerary
- Hanmer Springs Hot Springs
- Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Park
- Paparoa and Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Fox and Franz Josef Glacier
- Milford Sounds and Fiordland National Park
- Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki
It is generally quite cold in New Zealand. The best time to visit the country is therefore in summer, especially in December and January. However, these months are also when the school holidays take place, so bear in mind that prices will be higher (motorhome rental, accommodation, etc.).
Renting a vehicle is indeed the best way to discover the country in complete freedom. If you prefer the comfort of a hotel or if you’re travelling during the cooler months of the year, opt for car rental. For the summer months, you will enjoy living in a motorhome while discovering the islands.
No, it is not necessary to have a specific permit. It is, however, compulsory to have a B license (for more than 2 years).
Remember that in New Zealand we drive on the left! The roads are quite winding in places, so be careful, especially when driving a motorhome. In general, the roads are tarred and very well maintained.
To rent a motorhome in New Zealand, you must generally be at least 21 years old, have held a B license for more than a year, have your international license (or national license and official translation) and have a credit card for the deposit.
The amount of this deposit varies according to each supplier and the type of vehicle. For example, for a simple campervan, deposits are usually 2500 NZD to 3000 NZD. For a motorhome, budget 5000 NZD to 7500 NZD.