A Review of Travellers Autobarn (More Specifically, the Kuga Campervan)…
Road tripping around New Zealand’s glorious landscapes is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most of us. Finding a worthy vehicle while sticking to your budget is, therefore, one of the most important decisions you’ll make for the road ahead. With that in mind, the team behind NZ Pocket Guide have checked out one of the most prominent campervan brands gracing New Zealand’s roads, Travellers Autobarn, with a sole focus on their ultra-popular camping vehicle, the Kuga campervan.
Travellers Autobarn Kuga Campervan Hire: The Specs
Before we dive into the complete review of Travellers Autobarn’s Kuga campervan, here are the most important specifications:
- Transmission: Automatic
- Fuel: Unleaded
- Fuel consumption: 12-15 litres/100km
- Dual battery: Yes
- Power supply: 2* 240V to charge electrical appliances
- Length 5 m, Height 2.7m, Width 1.7m, Internal height 1.85-1.9m
- Seats: 3
Campervan Living Amenities (Included)
- Sleeps: 3 in one double bed (1.9m x 1.55m) and one single bed (1.6m x 1.4m)
- Air conditioning in the front cabin
- Kitchen: gas stove, fridge, sink, microwave and fire extinguisher
- Water supply: fresh water tank and grey water tank
- Electric supply: 12V Plug, 2 x USB chargers, internal lights, cigarette lighter/charger, radio and CD player
- Winter inclusions: heater, hot water bottle and sleeping bag
- Road atlas
Optional Extras (for a Fee)
- Living equipment (all under the same fee): kettle, cutlery, pots and pans, tea towels, cleaning equipment, sleeping bags, pillows and sheets
- Porta Potti (portable toilet – needed to be certified self-contained to enable you to freedom camp)
- Child booster seat (4-7 years old)
- Other extras include insurance, GPS, camping chairs, snow chains, extra drivers, etc. Use the booking page of Travellers Autobarn to see all of the extras.
Where to Hire
These vans can be picked up and/or dropped off at their depots in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Finally, rental with Travellers Autobarn also includes unlimited kilometres, 24/7 roadside assistance and 10% at Kiwi Holiday Parks.
Is Travellers Autobarn Cheap?
Budget is important, so we’ll waste no time in answering the question: is Travellers Autobarn cheap? More to the point are they good value for the price?
One of the Best-Value Campervan Rentals (But Check Those Additional Fees)
Like any campervan rental company in New Zealand, daily rental rates with Travellers Autobarn fluctuate with the seasons but even then, their prices always stay competitive. When looking for affordable campervans, i.e. those in the budget range, TA is among the first we recommend in The Best Budget Campervan Rentals in New Zealand. Be aware, however, that you’ll come across some additional fees throughout the booking process. For instance, the portable toilet required to make the Kuga campervan legally self-contained is an additional one-off fee of NZ$50. This doesn’t put too much of a dent in your budget if hiring for a few days, but might be off-putting for short-term hires.
Additionally, you’ll notice that “Living Equipment” also comes at an additional fee. Although this may initially raise a red flag, it’s only a one-off fee no matter how many days you hire. Plus, rental rates start so low that this minor fee still puts Travellers Autobarn in the run for being one of the best value budget rental options in New Zealand.
Where to Get the Best Deals and Discounts for Travellers Autobarn
With regular deals listed on the Travellers Autobarn website, plus, campervan relocation opportunities, the TA website tends to be the cheapest place to book their rental vehicles.
Are Travellers Autobarn Campervans Easy to Drive?
If you’re new to driving a camping vehicle, then the Kuga campervan is ideal. Travellers Autobarn’s Kuga vans are a Toyota Hiace, a popular campervan model in New Zealand and one of the best models for starting out on the camping vehicle scene. The vehicles are only a little longer than you’re standard car and approximately the same width. You won’t need to worry too much about following our advice in The Best Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand. Just remember to reopen all of the curtains before driving (not that we’re speaking from experience).
What’s more, all of Travellers Autobarn’s campervans have automatic transmission with power steering so it’s a mostly smooth drive. The lever handbrake might throw you off at first if you’re not used to that sort of handbrake, but it’s well-labelled on how to use it. You’ll get used to it in no time!
One thing that you might want to be more mindful of, however, is the height of the car – you get that sense of being a little “top-heavy” unlike driving a car. While this isn’t too much of a problem, just note that you’ll want to take those corners a bit slower. There’s a reason why “single vehicle roll over” is one of the cover options in the insurance…
What’s it Like to Live in a Travellers Autobarn Campervan?
The interiors of Travellers Autobarn’s Kuga model are simple yet cleverly designed to make the most of the space without sacrificing room for storage.
Everything you need for campervan maintenance – fresh water pipe, grey water pipe, boards required to fold out the bed, etc. – are all tucked away in one corner of the van. Then all of the space under the rest of the seats and above the cabin is yours! We found that large backpacks and small suitcases work best with the space.
Keeping Warm in the Campervan
Travellers Autobarn is one of the few rental companies in New Zealand that provide sleeping bags and pillows rather than duvets. While sceptical at first, we found that this keeps the van easier to tidy and are, arguably, warmer than a duvet on those crisp New Zealand nights. Speaking of the cold, you get extra sleeping bags, hot water bottles, an electric heater, etc. with a free “winter pack” during the colder months. If you need more tips on the subject, head over to How to Stay Warm When Camping in New Zealand.
The Kitchen: Self-Catering in a Campervan
As for the kitchen, the gas stove is easy to use but you may need a match or a lighter to get it started. Travellers Autobarn included some matches with our rental vehicle – but just make sure some are included or the spark on the stove works before setting off. The fridge runs on the van battery, but you’ll need to be plugged into a powered site if you want to use the microwave or kettle.
All the necessary kitchen equipment is also included in that “Living Equipment” package mentioned previously but some drinking glasses are a bit loose on the shelves so either pack them in with groceries or take those speedbumps extra slowly!
Staying Inside the Van: Moving Between a Living and Sleeping Space
An aspect of this campervan that our team were excited to mention is that you can enjoy living in the van without having to step outside (especially during a classic New Zealand rainy spell). Many rental campervans in New Zealand require you to open the back door to have full access to your kitchen, for example, but you can transition your space from dining room to bedroom (and do the cooking) without opening the doors. Or, at least, this is more the case for two people. When three adults are staying in the van, we imagine that this can be a little more challenging.
Are They Self-Contained? (Can You Freedom Camp)?
In New Zealand, it’s not as straightforward as parking up a campervan and staying the night. There are rules and regulations on what type of vehicle you can use for what’s commonly known as “freedom camping”. In order to legally use many freedom camping areas in New Zealand, you need a certified self-contained vehicle. You can read up on the details in our guide, What it’s Really Like to Freedom Camp in New Zealand. While Travellers Autobarn’s Kuga campervan isn’t legally self-contained at the base cost, it can be made legal by renting a Porta Potti (portable toilet) for a one-off fee. For the money you’ll save on campsites and holiday parks in the long run, the addition is worth considering.
For travellers solely staying in holiday parks, campsites with toilets and Department of Conservation campsites, a certified self-contained vehicle isn’t necessary. Plus, you’ll probably prefer using campsite toilets.
Should you hire a campervan from Travellers Autobarn? Solo travellers, couples or a couple of friends on a budget will find that the Kuga campervan has everything they need for a comfortable and affordable road trip across New Zealand. First-time campervanners will also find the Kuga less threatening than some of the motorhome monsters on the roads. We also respect the fact that Travellers Autobarn is one of the very few campervan rental companies that offer self-contained vehicles for drivers as young as 18 years old.
While the campervans don’t have too many bells and whistles, they have all of the necessities that are easy to use, flattening the learning curve of living the van life. If you find the deal that’s right for you, the Kuga campervan is a worthy companion for your road trip around New Zealand.
More About Campervan Hire in New Zealand
That’s it for our complete Travellers Autobarn review. Compare Travellers Autobarn NZ to other campervan rentals by browsing the following guides and comparisons:
- The Best Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand
- The Best Budget Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
- The Best Affordable Campervan Rentals in New Zealand
Finally, get all the tips you need for road tripping in the campervan using How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand.