Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2023]©
Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2023]

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]


What You Need to Know About Renting a Car in New Zealand

We love a good road trip in New Zealand, purely for these 10 Things We Like About a Road Trip in New Zealand. However, the whole renting-a-car process can be a bit daunting. Luckily for you, this complete guide to renting a car in New Zealand is a great place to start!

Renting a car for a road trip in New Zealand presents heaps of advantages, such as 10 Things We Love About Renting a Car in New Zealand, and it is one of the most popular ways to get on the road quickly in New Zealand. To help you go through the process of choosing what type of vehicle to rent, weighing up the costs, choosing a rental company, etc., we have compiled this guide to renting a car in New Zealand so you can start planning your adventure!

For more travel advice, be sure to bookmark The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.

10 Tips for First-Time Renters in New Zealand

Navigating Car and Campervan Rentals with Ease

Renting a vehicle for the first time in New Zealand can be an exciting part of your travel adventure. Here are essential tips to ensure a smooth rental experience and a memorable journey before we get into the meat of this car rental guide.

1. Understand Rental Requirements

Age Limit: Generally, you must be at least 21 years old to rent a car in New Zealand, though this can vary by company.
Valid Driving License: Your home country’s driving license is acceptable for up to 12 months. If it’s not in English, carry an official English translation or an International Driving Permit.

2. Choose the Right Vehicle

Match Vehicle to Trip Style: Consider the nature of your trip – compact cars for city travel, SUVs for rugged terrain, and campervans for a home-on-wheels experience.
Size Matters: Larger vehicles offer more space but consider ease of driving and parking, especially in city areas.

3. Insurance Coverage

Understand Policies: Familiarise yourself with the insurance coverage options provided by the rental company.
Extra Coverage: Consider additional coverage for peace of mind, especially for collision damage and theft protection.

4. Inspect the Vehicle Before Departure

Condition Report: Review any existing damage with the rental agency and ensure it’s documented.
Familiarise Yourself: Understand the vehicle’s features and controls before heading out.

5. Plan Your Route

GPS and Maps: Ensure you have a reliable navigation system, whether it’s a GPS unit or a smartphone app.
Itinerary Planning: Know the main routes and have an idea of travel times, keeping in mind that journeys often take longer than expected due to winding roads.

6. Be Aware of Additional Costs

Hidden Fees: Look out for additional fees, such as one-way charges, additional driver fees, or charges for drivers under a certain age.
Road Tolls: Be aware of any toll roads on your route and how to pay for them.

7. Familiarise Yourself with Local Driving Laws

Left-Hand Drive: Remember, in New Zealand, you drive on the left side of the road.
Speed Limits and Rules: Adhere to speed limits and familiarise yourself with local road rules.

8. Prepare for Different Weather Conditions

Seasonal Considerations: Depending on the season, you may encounter sunny, rainy, or snowy conditions. Be prepared and drive accordingly.

9. Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including the rental company’s roadside assistance number.
Safety Kit: Ensure your rental vehicle has a safety kit, including a first aid kit (or bring your own), flat-tyre kit/spare tyre and necessary tools.

10. Sustainable Travel Mindset

Eco-friendly Practices: Be mindful of the environment, practice responsible waste disposal, and consider eco-friendly driving habits.

By keeping these tips in mind, first-time renters in New Zealand can confidently navigate the rental process and enjoy a safe and enjoyable road trip across the stunning landscapes of Aotearoa.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]©

What Do You Need to Hire a Car in New Zealand?

While there are not that many restrictions for renting a car in New Zealand, here are a couple that may affect you.

Driving License

You can rent a vehicle in New Zealand as long as you have a full valid driver’s license that is written in English. If your license is not in English, then it needs to be accompanied by an approved translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP). Every car rental company in New Zealand accepts an IDP, so if your driving license is not written in English, we strongly advise you to get one before coming to New Zealand. Every country has a different process, fee and processing time to issue an IDP. It can sometimes take up to three weeks, so get started early. Find out more in Why You Need an International Driving Permit for New Zealand.

Note that very few car rental companies allow drivers with a restricted license to rent a car in New Zealand. In the rare case that they allow it, it’s usually under the condition that it’s a New Zealand or Australian restricted license.

Age of Driver

You can rent a car in New Zealand from the age of 18 but some car rental companies have their own age restrictions, such as only hiring to over 21-year-olds. Some rental companies may include a surcharge or the mandatory purchase of an insurance excess reducer 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, as well as companies best for younger drivers in The Best New Zealand Car & Campervan Rentals for Ages 18 to 25.

Credit Card

In order to hire a car in New Zealand, you need to provide a bond, also known as a security deposit, which will be returned to you upon dropping off your vehicle providing the vehicle is undamaged, has a full fuel tank, and meets the other conditions of the rental agreement. The bond is usually the same price as your insurance excess option, which can range from NZ$250 to $4,000! Because that is a lot of cash to hand over upfront, car rental companies tend to prefer taking a credit card imprint or pre-authorisation, which means they will have access to the specified amount of money from your credit card should you damage the vehicle. Therefore, a credit card with Visa or MasterCard is needed to hire a car from most companies. Many companies are happy with a Visa or MasterCard debit card, while a rare few rental companies will accept a cash deposit.

Head over to How to Hire a Car or Campervan in New Zealand Without a Credit Card for more advice on the subject.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2023]© Unsplash

Plan and Budget for Car Road Trip in New Zealand

Taking a road trip in New Zealand is not something to approach lightly. You will need to save up to be able to afford all the activities that you have set your mind on. Plus, renting a car in New Zealand can be costly if not well-planned. To help budget properly for renting a vehicle, check out How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car or Campervan in New Zealand?

Car Rental Costs

The daily cost of the car rental itself ranges from NZ$30/day for a small car in the low season to NZ$150/day during the high season. For premium vehicles, like EVs, 4WDs and SUVs, expect this to be around NZ$70/day in the low season and up to NZ$200/day in the high season.

Other rental fees may include a young driver’s fee if you are under 25 years old, a one-way fee if dropping off the vehicle in a different location to where you picked it up, and an extra driver’s fee. There may also be optional extras like hiring a GPS or snow chains. If there is any damage to the car that you cause, you will likely have to pay for damages unless you have paid for the top insurance. We’ll go through more of that below.

For ways to get a better deal on your car rental cost, check out the 20 Ways to Save Money on Car & Campervan Rental in New Zealand.

Car Rental Insurance

When renting a vehicle in New Zealand, insurance is included in the price. You have the option to drop the excess to a lower price by paying a daily fee. For example, a high excess that might be included in your rental could be around NZ$3,000 but you may have the option to reduce this excess to, for example, NZ$1,000 excess or NZ$0 excess at an extra daily rate. For more information, check out New Zealand Rental Car Insurance: Explained!

The Cost of Fuel

Of course, fuel costs vary throughout the country, but the average cost for petrol is usually NZ$2.50+ per litre (approximately NZ$11.35+ per gallon). For diesel, it’s NZ$2+ (approximately NZ$9.10+ per gallon) but you also have to pay a road user charge (RUC) which is around NZ$76-$82 per 1,000 km (621 mi) and depending on the size of the vehicle. Check out weekly fuel price data on the MBIE website and RUC costs on the NZ Transport Agency website.

The Ferry Cost

Another cost to put into your budget is the cost of the ferry between the North Island and the South Island. For example, it’s around NZ$175-$255 one way for a car plus one passenger. Find out more about ferry costs in our guide, Ferry Between the North Island and South Island.

Toll Roads

The three toll roads in New Zealand are all on the North Island: the Northern Gateway Toll Road, the Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road and the Takitimu Drive Toll Road. Find out more in our guide, Toll Roads in New Zealand.

Road Trip Holiday Costs

Next up, you’ll need to make an itinerary so you know where you are going and what your options are for accommodation, food and activities. An idea of costs can be found in NZ Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost? This can be as rough as it needs to be so you have the flexibility that you want while on the road. However, during the peak season (summer) you will need to stick to a plan as some towns can be fully booked a couple of weeks in advance making it impossible for you to spend the night there at the last minute. Travelling in the shoulder season allows you to be much more flexible, as well as has many more benefits which we outline in the 10 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand.

To start with your itinerary planning, check out the following itineraries for the best road trip routes:

Finally, you’ll need to consider who you will be travelling with: How many of you are here? Are you planning to pick up other travellers along the way? Who will want/be able to drive? All of those will affect your car or campervan rental choices.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2023]©

Choose a Rental Vehicle

Choosing the right vehicle is one of the most important parts of planning your trip. This will determine how you will travel and where you will be sleeping during your whole road trip. One of the most common questions asked is What is the Best Type of Car to Rent in New Zealand? But there is a much simpler and straightforward one that should come first: Should You Rent a Campervan or Car in New Zealand?

Make sure to pick a ride that is the perfect balance between cost-effectiveness and comfort for the whole group. The bigger the vehicle, the more expensive it is to rent, the more you will spend on gas, and the less you’ll have to spend on activities. So choose wisely – gas ain’t cheap nowadays…

Say you’re happy to stick with renting a car rather than renting a campervan, you have three main options when it comes to types of vehicles to rent: small to medium cars, large cars (like SUVs and 4WDs), and electric vehicles.

Small to Medium Cars

Perfect for: Travelling from city to city, either solo, as a couple or as a group of three or four.
Budget: Cars can go as low as NZ$30 per day in the low season to NZ$100+ per day for higher-end models in the high season.

Fuel efficient and reliable, the small to medium car is the most economical choice. A car with 2WD (2-wheel drive) is the same car that you are probably used to back home. Car rental companies use a wide range of models to satisfy every need, from the classic Nissan Maxima to the all-time favourite Toyota Corolla without forgetting the GertzSwift and other small to medium car models. Other options include people-movers which are cars that can accommodate up to six people comfortably like the Toyota Estima.

Large Cars (SUVs and 4WDs)

Perfect for: Travelling in style with a group of friends or family, accessing ski fields, and accessing more remote gravel roads, if the rental agreement allows.
Budget: 4WD usually starts around NZ$70 per day in the low season and can be around NZ$200+ per day in the high season.

You will also find 4WD (4-wheel drive) and SUVs for rent in New Zealand. It is not necessary to get a 4WD to enjoy New Zealand. We do not recommend renting a 4WD for a road trip in New Zealand as we fail to see the value for money on this type of vehicle. Almost every spot that international visitors go to can be accessed with a normal car. A few rare instances where you might prefer a 4WD vehicle are accessing ski field roads in the middle of winter (although, there are usually shuttle alternatives available) and accessing remote areas for hunting, fishing and tramping.

Instances where you might find SUVs a better rental car in New Zealand are for travelling on New Zealand’s gravel roads, of which there are many when you go off the main tourist routes. However, be sure to check that your car rental agreement allows you to take your rental vehicle on gravel roads, as many do not. The extra space that SUVs provide for groups and families may also be a reason to hire.

The type of models available range from the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota RAV4 to the Hyundai Tucson.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Perfect for: Environmentally-conscious travellers or those wanting to save money on fuel.
Budget: In the low season, you would be able to find a small EV car for around NZ$70 or a Tesla at NZ$195 per day. In mid-summer, it is common to find them up to NZ$150-$215 per day.

With models across the spectrum, electric vehicle rentals are becoming more and more popular in New Zealand. What’s more, the infrastructure is in place to keep your vehicle charged throughout New Zealand.

When it comes to size and practicality, see the sections above for the benefits of small to medium cars, as well as campervans and motorhomes. The only categories that electric cars are lacking in New Zealand are 4WDs and SUVs.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, EVs obviously come out on top with charging stations costing much less (or are sometimes free) compared to refuelling with petrol or diesel – see our how-to at NZ EV Guide: How to Travel Around New Zealand in an Electric Car. Electric vehicles are also one of the more sustainable transport options.

Weigh more of the pros and cons of each vehicle type in our guide, What is the Best Type of Car to Rent in New Zealand?

Pixabay© Pixabay

Choose the Right Car Rental Company

There is no right or wrong answer here. Every company has its advantages and disadvantages. In fact, it can be quite tricky to compare your options. To help you out on that one we have made a guide, Compare Car & Campervan Hire in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.

You will have to take into account a whole range of criteria far beyond simply comparing prices, from services to age limit, availability to vehicle types, and inclusions to insurance costs. You are in for a few hours of intense comparison and decision-making here. We think that the huge amount of car and campervan rental companies in New Zealand is a blessing in disguise, as there is no need to compromise. If a company does not suit you, scrap it and move on to the next one. There is bound to be one that will fit all your criteria.

The Best Car Rental Companies in New Zealand

While we’re here, we might as well share with you some of the best car rental companies in New Zealand. Check out the links to rental company comparisons based on pick-up locations:

Plus, check out for cheap car rental deals.

New Zealand Car Relocations

It’s also worth mentioning car relocations, which can actually be the cheapest type of car rental in New Zealand! This is when rental companies need to relocate vehicles from one depot to another, often offering the rental for free! The downside is that usually the relocation is required to be completed within just a few days. Find if it’s the right option for you by checking out our full car relocation guide, New Zealand Car Relocations: How to Get Free Car Hire.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]©

Seasonal Considerations for Car and Campervan Rentals in New Zealand

Tailoring Your Vehicle Choice to New Zealand’s Seasons

New Zealand’s diverse climate means that the time of year you visit can significantly influence your car or campervan rental experience. Here’s what you need to know to make the best vehicle choice for each season:

1. Summer (December to February)

Characteristics: Warm temperatures, long daylight hours, popular tourist season.

Vehicle Considerations:

Air Conditioning: Essential for comfortable travel.
Advance Booking: High demand means it’s wise to book your vehicle well in advance.
Driving Tips: Be prepared for busy roads, especially in tourist hotspots. Remember to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the strong New Zealand sun.

2. Autumn (March to May)

Characteristics: Cooler temperatures, spectacular autumn foliage, fewer tourists.

Vehicle Considerations:

Heating Options: Evening temperatures can drop, so heating in your vehicle is a plus.
All-Wheel Drive: Consider for exploring regions with unpredictable weather, like the South Island.
Driving Tips: Roads are generally less crowded, offering a more relaxed driving experience. Watch for fallen leaves on roads which can be slippery, especially after rain.

3. Winter (June to August)

Characteristics: Cold weather, snow in alpine areas, ideal for winter sports enthusiasts.

Vehicle Considerations:

4WD and Snow Chains: Essential for snowy and icy conditions, especially in the South Island’s mountainous areas.
Insulation and Heating: Crucial in campervans to ensure a comfortable sleeping environment.
Driving Tips: Allow extra travel time for winter conditions. Always check weather and road closures, particularly in mountainous areas.

4. Spring (September to November)

Characteristics: Mild weather, blooming landscapes, quieter travel period.

Vehicle Considerations:

Versatile Vehicles: Weather can be variable, so a versatile vehicle that can handle a mix of conditions is ideal.
Good Ventilation: Essential for rapidly changing temperatures.
Driving Tips: Be prepared for spring showers and occasionally windy conditions. This is a great time for wildlife watching, so keep your camera ready!

General Advice Across All Seasons:

Insurance Coverage: Ensure your rental agreement covers you adequately for your chosen season’s specific challenges.
Safety Kit: Always have a basic safety kit, including a first aid kit, torch and blankets.
Awareness of Daylight Hours: These vary significantly throughout the year and can affect your driving schedule.

By considering these seasonal factors, you can select a car that enhances your travel experience in New Zealand, ensuring safety, comfort, and enjoyment, no matter when you visit.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2023]© Unsplash

Book and Pick Up Your Car Rental

When booking your car rental, you will either have to pay for your booking in full (which often has a small credit or debit card fee) or you will only pay a deposit to secure your booking and then pay the rest of the rate on pick-up. Be aware that most deposits are non-refundable.

Either way, before picking up your vehicle, you’ll have to pay the bill. In New Zealand, you will be asked to pay for your rental before starting your trip, not when dropping off the vehicle.

We also suggest you don’t go too crazy on options that you would like to add to your rental when booking. All can be added on pick-up, even your insurance. So if you are unsure about the insurance cover offered by your credit card company for rental, for instance, just book your car rental without insurance and add it on at pick-up if necessary. The same goes for every other add-on. Don’t worry, the car rental company will be happy to upsell you on the spot if you decide to add something to your booking.

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. You are also likely to have to hand over your credit or debit card details for pre-authorisation so that the car rental company has access to a certain sum of money, known as a “security bond”, should you damage the vehicle. Learn more about that in How to Hire a Car or Campervan in New Zealand Without a Credit Card.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]©

Local Laws and Driving Regulations in New Zealand

Navigating New Zealand’s Roads: Know the Rules

For those renting a car in New Zealand, understanding the local driving laws and regulations is crucial for a safe and enjoyable journey. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the roads confidently:

1. Driving on the Left

Rule: In New Zealand, always drive on the left side of the road.
Reminder: Roundabouts are navigated clockwise, and on multi-lane roads, keep to the left lane unless overtaking.

2. Driver’s License Requirements

International Visitors: You can drive using a valid driver’s license from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to 12 months.
Translation: If your license isn’t in English, you must carry an approved translation.

3. Seat Belts and Child Restraints

Mandatory: All passengers must wear seat belts, and children under seven years of age must be in an appropriate child restraint.

4. Speed Limits

Urban Areas: Typically 50 km/h (about 30 mph).
Open Roads: Usually 100 km/h (about 60 mph).
Signage: Always adhere to local speed limit signs as they can vary, especially near schools and construction zones.

5. Alcohol and Drug Limits

Zero Tolerance: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. The legal alcohol limit is 250 micrograms per litre of breath or 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

6. Mobile Phones

Prohibition: It’s illegal to use a mobile phone for calling, texting, or browsing while driving, except if the device is completely hands-free.

7. Road Conditions

Rural Roads: Often narrow, winding, and may include gravel surfaces.
Weather Impact: Be cautious during adverse weather conditions, as roads can become slippery or icy.

8. Give Way Rules

Right-Hand Rule: If turning, give way to all traffic not turning.
T-intersections: The driver on the terminating road (bottom of the ‘T’) must give way.

9. Unique Road Signs

Sheep and Cattle: Be aware of signs indicating areas where livestock crossings are common.
Tourist Route Signs: Brown signs indicate scenic routes and attractions.

10. Emergency Procedures

In case of an emergency, dial 111 for police, fire, or ambulance.

11. Environmental Care

Respect: New Zealand values its natural environment. Always dispose of waste properly and be mindful of wildlife when driving.

Understanding and respecting these local laws and driving regulations will not only keep you on the right side of the law but also ensure a safe and responsible road trip across New Zealand’s stunning landscapes.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]©

New Zealand Driving Routes and Itineraries

Explore the Best of New Zealand on Four Wheels

Embarking on a road trip in New Zealand is an exhilarating way to discover the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture of this beautiful country. Whether you’re behind the wheel of a car or steering a campervan, these suggested driving routes and itineraries are designed to guide you through some of the most scenic and iconic locations across the North and South Islands.

1. North Island Highlights Tour
Duration: 7-10 Days

Route: Auckland → Bay of Islands → Coromandel → Rotorua → Taupo → Wellington

Begin your adventure in Auckland, the ‘City of Sails,’ and head north to the Bay of Islands, a haven for beach lovers and history enthusiasts. Drive through the rolling hills of the Coromandel Peninsula, famous for its golden beaches and the unique Hot Water Beach. Next, explore the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, followed by the serene beauty of Lake Taupo. Conclude your journey in Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital city, known for its lively arts scene and culinary delights.

2. South Island Scenic Loop
Duration: 10-14 Days

Route: Christchurch → Mt. Cook → Queenstown → Fiordland → West Coast → Marlborough → Christchurch

Start in Christchurch, weaving through the majestic Southern Alps to Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain. Drive south to Queenstown, the adventure capital, offering activities from bungee jumping to serene lake cruises. Journey to the awe-inspiring Fiordland National Park, home to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Traverse the rugged West Coast, known for its glaciers, before heading to the Marlborough region, famed for its vineyards. Your journey circles back to Christchurch, completing a trip full of diverse landscapes and experiences.

3. Classic Kiwi Road Trip
Duration: Flexible

Route: Customizable

Create your own itinerary by combining elements from various routes. New Zealand’s well-maintained roads and diverse landscapes make it ideal for a customized road trip. Whether it’s the sandy beaches of the North Island or the alpine scenery of the South Island, there’s a route for every interest.

Travel Tips:

Planning: Check road conditions and weather forecasts, especially in winter for South Island routes.
Accommodation: Book campgrounds or hotels in advance, particularly during peak tourist seasons.
Local Insights: Stop at local visitor centers for up-to-date information and hidden gems.
Safety First:

  • Remember to drive on the left-hand side.
  • Be mindful of varying road conditions and wildlife.
  • Take regular breaks to enjoy the scenery and avoid fatigue.

This section of your journey through New Zealand is not just about the destinations but the incredible experiences along the way. From the comfort of your rental car or campervan, these routes offer a window into the heart of Aotearoa, inviting you to discover its natural wonders, cultural richness, and the warm hospitality of its people

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]©

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Travel Options in New Zealand

Embracing Green Travel with Your Car or Campervan Rental

New Zealand’s pristine natural beauty is one of its biggest attractions, making eco-friendly travel an important consideration for visitors. Here’s how you can make your car or campervan rental more sustainable and contribute to preserving New Zealand’s environment:

1. Choosing Eco-Friendly Vehicles

Hybrid and Electric Options: Many rental companies now offer hybrid or fully electric vehicles. These cars reduce emissions and are more energy-efficient.
Fuel Efficiency: If electric options are not available, opt for vehicles that are known for good fuel efficiency.
Regular Maintenance Checks: Ensure your rental vehicle is well-maintained, as a well-tuned car emits fewer pollutants.

2. Eco-Conscious Campervan Rentals

Solar-Powered Features: Some campervans come equipped with solar panels, which power onboard facilities, reducing the need for external electricity sources.
Waste Management: Choose rentals that provide clear guidance on waste disposal and recycling. Proper disposal of waste is crucial in maintaining natural sites.

3. Carbon Offset Programs

Participation: Look for rental companies that offer carbon offset programs. These programs invest in environmental projects to balance out the emissions produced by your vehicle.
Self-Initiative: You can also independently contribute to local conservation projects or tree-planting initiatives.

4. Responsible Travel Practices

Driving Habits: Adopt eco-friendly driving practices like avoiding excessive speeding and harsh braking, which increase fuel consumption.
Limiting Off-Road Driving: Stick to designated roads to protect fragile ecosystems and avoid damaging natural habitats.

5. Supporting Green Initiatives

Local Conservation Efforts: Engage with and support local conservation efforts in the areas you visit.
Eco-Friendly Accommodations: When not using a campervan, consider staying in eco-friendly accommodations that practice sustainable operations.

6. Leave No Trace

Principle Adherence: Follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles, ensuring you leave the places you visit as untouched as possible.
Awareness and Respect: Be mindful of the local flora and fauna. Respect wildlife and natural habitats during your travels.

7. Educational Opportunities

Learning and Sharing: Use your journey as an opportunity to learn about environmental issues and share your experiences and knowledge with others.

By choosing eco-friendly and sustainable travel options, you contribute to the preservation of New Zealand’s unique environment. It’s a way to ensure that the breathtaking landscapes and rich biodiversity continue to thrive for future generations to enjoy.

Pixabay© Pixabay

Have a Blast on the Road!

You are in for a treat! After carefully inspecting your vehicle on pick-up and marking every dent, crack, mark and chip on the pick-up rental sheet, you are off to the most breathtaking road trip of your life. Dramatic landscapes and adventurous activities are at every turn of the road!

Speaking of turns, the roads of New Zealand are slightly different than what you may be used to back in your home country so do yourself a favour and browse our 15 Safe Driving Tips for New Zealand and How to Drive in New Zealand so you know what to expect. You also might like to check out How to Plan a Road Trip in New Zealand for more advice on travelling by car.

Take your time on the road; a great road trip in New Zealand is not measured by distance but by memories.

Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide [2024]©

FAQs on Car and Campervan Rentals in New Zealand

Your Questions Answered for a Smooth Rental Experience

When planning a trip to New Zealand and considering renting a car or campervan, you may have several questions. Here are some frequently asked questions with answers to help guide you through the rental process:

1. What documents do I need to rent a vehicle in New Zealand?

Answer: A valid driver’s license from your home country (valid for up to 12 months of driving in New Zealand), and a credit card for the rental deposit. If your license is not in English, an official English translation or an International Driving Permit is required.

2. Can I rent a vehicle with a provisional or learner’s license?

Answer: No, you must have a full valid driver’s license to rent a vehicle in New Zealand.

3. What’s the minimum age for renting a vehicle in New Zealand?

Answer: Typically, the minimum age is 21 years. However, some rental companies may rent to drivers aged 18-20, sometimes with an additional fee.

4. Do I need special insurance to rent a campervan?

Answer: Basic insurance is usually included in your rental, but it’s advisable to consider additional coverage for peace of mind, especially for collision damage and comprehensive options.

5. Are there any restrictions on where I can take my rental car?

Answer: Some rental companies may have restrictions on certain roads or off-road driving. Always check with your rental provider and adhere to their terms and conditions.

6. Is it easy to find campgrounds or places to park a campervan overnight?

Answer: Yes, New Zealand has a wide range of campgrounds, both free and paid. It’s important to park in designated areas, especially when freedom camping, to respect local regulations and the environment. Head to our How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand Guide to learn more.

7. Can I drive from the North Island to the South Island with my rental vehicle?

Answer: Yes, you can drive between islands using the ferry services. Check with your rental company if they have any specific policies or fees for interisland travel.

8. Are roads in New Zealand suitable for all types of vehicles?

Answer: Most main roads are well-maintained and suitable for all vehicles. However, some rural or off-road areas may require a 4WD vehicle and are not recommended for larger campervans.

9. What should I do if I have an accident or breakdown?

Answer: Immediately contact your rental company for assistance. For emergencies, dial 111 for police, fire or ambulance.

10. Are fuel costs high in New Zealand?

Answer: Fuel costs can be higher than in some other countries, so budget accordingly. Campervans typically consume more fuel than cars.

11. Can I rent a vehicle for a one-way trip?

Answer: Many companies offer one-way rentals, though this may come with an additional fee. Always confirm with the rental agency.

12. What is the average cost of renting a car or campervan in New Zealand?

Answer: Costs vary depending on the season, type of vehicle, and rental duration. On average, prices range from NZ$30 to $90 per day. Campervan rentals can be higher, especially for models with more amenities.

13. Do I need to return the rental vehicle with a full tank of fuel?

Answer: This depends on the rental company’s policy. Most operate on a ‘full-to-full’ basis, meaning you return the vehicle with a full tank, while some may offer a pre-purchase fuel option.

14. Can I modify or cancel my rental reservation?

Answer: Yes, most companies allow you to modify or cancel your booking. However, be sure to check the specific terms regarding any potential fees or restrictions.

15. Are there any tips for driving in New Zealand’s unique conditions?

Answer: Yes, be aware of changing weather conditions and narrow, winding roads, especially in rural areas. Always drive according to the conditions and keep a safe following distance.

16. Is it more economical to rent a car or a campervan?

Answer: This depends on your travel style and needs. Cars are generally more fuel-efficient and have lower rental rates, but campervans can save on accommodation costs.

By addressing these common questions, first-time and experienced renters alike can feel more prepared and informed when choosing the best rental option for their New Zealand adventure. Remember, every journey is unique, so consider your personal preferences, budget, and the nature of your trip when making your decision.

More About Renting a Car in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide to renting a car in New Zealand. For more car rental tips, check out these:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Travel By Car in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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