What You Need to Know About Renting a Campervan or Motorhome 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 or motorhome in New Zealand requires some planning to make your trip as awesome as possible. That’s where this essential guide to rental a 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, how to choose the right campervan vehicle, 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.
Video: 10 Tips for Renting a Campervan in New Zealand
Like to watch videos? We’re talking about New Zealand campervan rentals all the time over on the NZ Pocket Guide YouTube Channel so take a look at some of our campervan road trip tips and subscribe for more NZ goodness!
Campervan Rental Restrictions: What Do You Need to Hire a Campervan in New Zealand?
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 driver’s license that is written in English. If your license is not in English, make sure you get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to accompany your driving license. You will need both to rent a campervan. 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 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.
In order to hire a campervan 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$500 to $4,000! Because is a lot of cash to hand over upfront, campervan rental companies tend to prefer taking a credit card imprint, 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 campervan 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.
How to 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 or people-mover with the seats taken out and replaced with a bed and/or 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 because they have enough space for all your essential amenities, such as a kitchen and 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 below).
See what a typical campervan rental looks like in this video:
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. Motorhomes are usually the hardest vehicle to get used to, so check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Renting Your First Motorhome for more tips.
For a more in-depth look at the type of camping vehicles, you can rent in New Zealand, take a look at Campercar, Campervan or Motorhome Rental: Which is Better for New Zealand? Or, check out our video on the subject:
How to Park a Campervan or Motorhome
We get it, driving a campervan and especially a motorhome can be intimidating for first-timers. If you need tips on parking these bad boys, head to The Best Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand.
How to Rent a Campervan in New Zealand: Campervan Rental Companies, Private Rentals and More
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.
The Best Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand
While we’re here, we might as well share with you some of the best campervan rental companies in New Zealand. Check out the links to rental company comparisons based on pick-up locations:
- The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in Auckland
- The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in Christchurch
- The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in Queenstown
- The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in Wellington
And check out our comparisons of the best campervan rental companies based on budget:
- The Cheapest Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
- The Best Affordable Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
- The Best Luxury Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
You might be more interested in comparisons of different “flavours” of campervans:
- NZ EV Guide: How to Travel Around New Zealand in an Electric Car or Campervan
- The Best Family Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
- The Best Backpacker Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
- The Best New Zealand Car & Campervan Rentals for Ages 18 to 25
And finally, our top picks are in The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rental Companies in New Zealand!
Private Campervan and Motorhome Rentals
You don’t have to go with a campervan rental company at all! You can also hire a campervan privately by using website platforms similar to Airbnb (but, ya know, for camping vehicles). Find out more about hiring a private campervan in Private Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in New Zealand: FULL Guide.
New Zealand Campervan Relocations
It’s also worth mentioning campervan relocations, which can actually be the cheapest type of campervan 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 campervan relocation guide, New Zealand Campervan Relocations: How to Get a Free Campervan Hire.
Booking and Picking Up a Rental Campervan in New Zealand
After having a quick look at 20 Ways to Save Money on Car & Campervan Rental in New Zealand so you have no financial regrets, start booking your campervan rental. You will either have to pay in full or put down a deposit when booking your campervan rental and pay for the rest of the campervan rental cost on pick-up. 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$250-$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.
Campervan Rental Costs: 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
- Campervan rental rate
- Campervan insurance (usually included in the base rate but optional add-ons are available for a daily fee)
- 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.
- Campground or holiday park fees – See How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost?
- Food – See Food Shopping in New Zealand
- Activities – See How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost?
Campervan Rental Costs
The daily cost of the campervan rental itself ranges from NZ$60/day for a campervan in the low season to NZ$450/day for a motorhome 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 campervan that you cause, it is likely you will have to pay for damages unless you have paid for the top insurance. We’ll go through more of that below.
Campervan Rental Insurance
When renting a vehicle, 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 NZ$3,000-$5,000 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 per litre (approximately NZ$7.60 per gallon). For diesel, it’s NZ$1.35 (approximately NZ$5.10 per gallon) but you also have to pay a road user charge (RUC) which is around NZ$76-$82 per 1,000km (621 miles) 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$420 each way for a full campervan with four passengers. Find out more about costs in Ferry Between the North Island and South Island.
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.
For a closer look at rental costs, take a look at How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car or Campervan in New Zealand?, as well as how to save money in 20 Ways to Save Money on Car & Campervan Rental in New Zealand.
What is the Cost of a Campervan Compared to Hiring a Car and Staying in Hotels?
We have a whole article on the subject in Campervan Rental Vs. Car Rental + Stay in Hotel, Hostel or Airbnb in New Zealand or check out our video:
Where to Camp in a Campervan in New Zealand
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot just park up anywhere in New Zealand 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.
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 our Accommodation Guide to Holiday Parks in New Zealand.
Campsites / Campgrounds
Campsites are a little more basic than holiday parks, 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? If you’re using mostly DOC campsites throughout your trip, you might want to consider getting a campsite pass to save on campsite fees. Check out DOC Campsite Pass: How it Works & is it Worth it? for more details.
Park Over Property (POP)
Some landowners allow self-contained vehicles to stay on their property overnight for a small fee. Many POPs are only open to members of the local NZMCA, which is better suited for travellers staying in New Zealand long-term.
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. We have links to all of the appropriate regional council pages over at Freedom Camping Rules in New Zealand: Region by Region.
And now you are ready to hit the road! Make sure you know How to Drive in New Zealand. Keep left!
More About Renting a Campervan in New Zealand
That’s it for our complete guide to renting a campervan or motorhome in New Zealand, but it is by no means the end of our campervan road trip advice! For more tips on planning a campervan trip and living in a campervan, check out our handy articles:
- How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand
- Vanlife: The Guide to Living in a Campervan
- 10 Things You Need to Know About Campervan Rental in New Zealand
Finally, find more essential travel advice in the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.