apollo motorhomes on Flickr
apollo motorhomes on Flickr

10 Things You Need to Know About Camper Van Rental in New Zealand

© apollo motorhomes on Flickr

Tips for Camper Van Rental in New Zealand

The open road, ultimate freedom, a super budget travel method, parking up wherever you want for the night. Well, camper vanning in New Zealand isn’t exactly like that. That’s right, there are a few things you need to know about campervan rental in New Zealand.

Renting a camper van is a super popular travel method in New Zealand and for good reason with New Zealand being such a road trip-friendly country. However, getting a good value camper van rental, knowing where you can actually camp, and being aware of the restrictions has become a bit of a challenge at times. Although we still believe that renting a camper van is pretty awesome, as we mention in 10 Things We Love About Renting a Car in New Zealand, there are still a few things you should know about camper van rental in New Zealand so that you don’t get any nasty surprises.

All right, let’s get started with some tips for your trip by campervan in New Zealand.

1. Season Affects Price

A lot of tourists and locals are looking to travel campervan in New Zealand in summer. Lounging outside your camper van in the heat of summer sounds magical, right? Well, not when hiring a camper van in summer costs twice the price. In most cases, you can reduce the basic cost of your camper van rental in New Zealand by half if you travel in the shoulder and off-seasons in New Zealand. You don’t even have to travel in the dead of winter to get cheaper rental prices. For instance, evening hiring in October when the weather vastly improves and gets warmer is usually still half the price of travelling in December to February. For more reasons to travel in the off-season, check out 11 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ

2. You Might Find Some Age Restrictions

Many New Zealand camper van rental companies have a young-drivers surcharge, usually, if you are under 25 years old. Plus, if you are under 21, it is not likely that you will be able to be the driver of a hired motorhome. Nevertheless, there are plenty of camper van rental companies that specialise in vehicle rental to younger drivers, meaning you can hire camper-cars and camper vans from the age of 18 (as long as you have a full valid driver license in English or accompanied by your approved translation or International Driving Permit). For more information, check out Age Restrictions When Renting a Vehicle in New Zealand.

Pexels© Pexels

3. Be Aware of the One-way Fee

Travelling from the North Island to the South Island or vice versa? Well, you will most definitely be charged extra for that. Dropping your rental camper van in a different location to where you picked it up usually incurs a one-way fee which can be up to NZ$300 extra. For more extra costs, take a look at How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in New Zealand?

Pexels© Pexels

4. Remember the Ferry Costs

By now, you have probably realised that New Zealand is made up of two main islands. If you want to explore both of them, then be aware that you will need to take your rental vehicle on one of the Cook Strait ferries. The larger your campervan, the more expensive this trip will be. Get an idea of prices and how to save money of the Cook Strait ferry in Ferry Between the North Island and South Island. Although we recommend travelling both islands, if you can only pick one, be sure to compare in Should You Travel the North Island or South Island?

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Car Relocation Will Save You Heaps!

On the other hand, if you are travelling from the South Island and ending your trip in the North Island, then you may find yourself a sweet camper van relocation deal. This means your camper van base price is free and you only have a few inclusions to pay for. However, camper van relocation deals have limited availability and other restrictions, such as a short amount of time to get the vehicle back up north. Find out more in Car Relocation in New Zealand.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ

6. There’s Actually a Lot of Inclusions

You don’t have to worry about packing too much when renting a camper van in New Zealand because most rental camper vans have all the essentials. Towels, bedding, tea towels, cutlery, pots, pans, plates, Everything you need to make your campervan a home will be there. That’s right, most New Zealand campervans pack a lot! Be sure to check out the inclusions of your camper van rental before you start packing. Then all you need to worry about is packing light and bringing your own essentials, which we can help you with The Ultimate Packing List for an Extended Trip in New Zealand.

Pixabay© Pixabay

7. Know the Price of Fuel in New Zealand

Depending on where you are from, the price of fuel in New Zealand is either going to delight you or horrify you. Either way, you need to consider the price of fuel when budgeting your trip. New Zealand campervans come in normal gas and diesel. Unleaded fuel is usually around NZ$2 per litre (approximately NZ$7.6 per gallon) meaning a full tank of gas for a camper van is likely to be around NZ$90. While diesel is cheaper, you are likely to have to pay a Road Usage Charge of between NZ$62 to NZ$68 per 1,000km (621 miles) travelled. Alternatively, consider renting an electric camper van where there are frequent charging stations around New Zealand so you don’t need to worry about the cost of fuel.

Pixabay© Pixabay

8. If You See a NZ$19 per Day Camper Van Rental Deal then…

You know its too good to be true. This sort of cheap deal for New Zealand van rentals is likely to come under the conditions of being an older vehicle model, be the smallest camper van, have strict hiring dates, have a mandatory rental period, and other extra fees will apply. For a breakdown of additional fees, take a look at How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in New Zealand?

Pixabay© Pixabay

9. You Have So Much Choice

Because New Zealand is such a road trip-friendly country, so many people want to rent a camper van! For that reason, you will find heaps of camper van rental choices, and vehicle choices too! You can have luxurious motorhomes to compact and cleverly designed minivans which you can fit your whole life into. Choosing a camper van is fundamental to your enjoyment of driving and comfort during your road trip in New Zealand, so we can help you choose the right model for you in Which Campervan Rental Vehicle is Right for You? To make the selection process less overwhelming, use campervan rental comparison websites like Compare and Choose. You’ll be able to compare vehicles’ age, price, amenities, availability and more!

One more note: you can hire privately-owned campervans too!

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. You Can’t Just Park Up and Sleep Anywhere

Contrary to popular belief there are some strict freedom camping rules in New Zealand. If you really want to live in your camper van without paying for holiday parks or campsites, then you need to make sure your rental vehicle is fully self-contained. Find out more about what that is in Self-Contained Campervans in New Zealand. This will allow you to sleep in public spaces where there are no freedom camping restrictions usually for up to three nights. If your vehicle is not self-contained then you need to use holiday parks, paid campgrounds and free campgrounds that allow non-self-contained vehicles.

Pixabay© Pixabay

11. (Bonus) You Need to Know How to Drive in New Zealand

Not only can driving a camper van be a bit daunting at first but driving on the left side of the road in a country with different road signs and other rules just adds to the stress. Make sure you read up on How to Drive in New Zealand before hitting the road.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ


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.

Was this article useful?

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter