How to Choose a Campervan for New Zealand
The great New Zealand road trip! There’s nothing like experiencing the ultimate freedom in your little home on wheels for a few weeks. Because New Zealand is such an awesome road tripping country, there is a huge choice of campervan and motorhome rentals out there. But how much freedom you truly experience depends on what type of rental camping vehicle you get in New Zealand. So, which campervan rental vehicle is right for you? Find out in our campercar, campervan and motorhome comparison for New Zealand!
Your budget, features, where you want to park for the night, and how the campervan is like to drive all need to be taken into consideration when deciding which campervan rental vehicle is right for you. We’ll go through all those points in the article below.
Before we begin, don’t forget to bookmark How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand for even more tips.
Video: Campercar, Campervan or Motorhome Rentals for New Zealand
If you prefer, watch a video of the NZ Pocket Guide team comparing campercars, campervans and motorhomes for New Zealand. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more New Zealand travel tips!
Campercars in New Zealand
The most budget-friendly option is a “campercar” – that’s its unofficial name but we think that’s the best way to describe it.
The Cost of Renting a Campercar in New Zealand
Expect to pay between NZ$36 and $170 per day. While there are a number of factors that determine the price, the main one is the time of year that you hire it. The cheapest prices can be found during the shoulder and off-season in New Zealand.
Typical Features of a Campercar
The campercar, which sleeps up to two people in a double bed, is as compact as it gets, so comfort should not be a priority when choosing this type of campervan rental. These vehicles are designed for using the kitchen amenities, which usually include a gas cooker, sink and cold water tank, while you are stood outside, but are usually cleverly designed with a folding bed/seats with an inside table. However, the novelty of this soon wears off and most travellers end up leaving it in the bed position.
Where Can You Camp in a Campercar in New Zealand?
Note that most campercars are non-self-contained, meaning you cannot legally use these cars to freedom camp unless you go to one of the limited freedom campsites that all non-self-contained vehicles. For this reason, you will most likely be sleeping in this campercar in paid holiday parks and DOC campsites with facilities. These types of accommodation usually come with kitchens/food preparation areas, toilets and running water. For more information, see Where Can You Camp in New Zealand if Your Campervan is Not Self-Contained?
What are Campercars Like to Drive?
Because of their smaller size, campercars are considered the easiest type of camping vehicle to drive. They drive just like a normal car and often come with automatic transmission. You won’t experience a lean as you would on taller camping vehicles when you go around corners. Plus, parking will be a lot easier. What’s more, on the ferry crossing between the North and South Island, you will only be charged the price of transporting a car across the Cook Strait unlike if bigger vehicles that are charged extra.
Campervans in New Zealand
As a van modified with living amenities, the campervan is compact with most of the basic features you would look for in a camping vehicle.
The Cost of Renting a Campervan in New Zealand
Depending on the time of year and choice of vehicle and company, expect to pay NZ$60-$220 per day for campervan rental in New Zealand. Find out how to save money with 20 Ways to Save Money on Car & Campervan Rental in New Zealand.
Typical Features of a Campervan
This is where features get more varied between rental companies, but campervans tend to have all the basics you require for living in during your time in New Zealand, such as a fridge, double bed, power outlet to holiday park hookup, internal kitchen with sink, a water tank and gas cookers. Some campervans may have a cassette toilet paired with water and wastewater tanks meaning that it is likely to be self-contained. While some vans only fit up to two people, others fit up to four people with another double bed fitted in the upper section of the van. The layout of the campervan may be changeable, for instance, transforming the bed into seating with a table.
Take a Tour of a New Zealand Campervan
Videos speak a thousand words, so check out our tour of a typical rental campervan in New Zealand to learn about its features.
Where Can You Camp in a Campervan in New Zealand?
If your campervan is a certified self-contained vehicle (with a toilet and water storage) then you are able to freedom camp for up to two or three days in public areas. Be sure to look up if there are any freedom camping restrictions in each area you plan to visit; find out more information in Freedom Camping Rules in New Zealand: Region by Region.
If you’re using power in your campervan, you are likely to need to charge it every three days by hooking it up to a power outlet in a holiday park. Expect to pay between NZ$20-$50 for a power site in a holiday park. You can also park up at Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites which usually have an affordable fee and basic facilities. Learn more about the different campsites in The Guide to Camping in New Zealand.
What are Campervans Like to Drive?
Many campervans in New Zealand have been built with an extension on top of the van, which means you’ll experience a lean when going around corners, so take it easy. Usually, with a 2L to 3L engine, they will get you around at cruising speed but don’t expect to be overtaking vehicles often or going uphill too fast. Campervans are relatively easy to drive, often driving much like a car. You just need to be aware of the slightly more extra space.
2-Berth Motorhomes in New Zealand
A more luxurious and roomy option for two people, the 2-berth motorhome is a larger van size.
The Cost of Renting a 2-Berth Motorhome in New Zealand
Expect to pay around NZ$145 per day in the shoulder and off-season in New Zealand and around NZ$450 per day in the summer. Be aware of any added costs such as one-way fees or the cost of doing the ferry crossing by checking out How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car or Campervan in New Zealand?
Typical Features of a 2-Berth Motorhome
These larger campervans have been designed to carry and sleep two people with plenty of space. There are usually options for one double bed/two single beds, an internal kitchen with fridge, gas cooker, microwave, hot and cold water, wastewater tank, toilet, shower and power supply. It is likely that you will be able to transform the bed into a seating and dining area.
Where Can You Camp in a 2-Berth Motorhome?
It is highly likely that a 2-berth motorhome of this size is certified self-contained, therefore you are able to freedom camp in public spaces apart from where there are restrictions. Be aware that you may need to charge the power supply every few days so you may stay in powered sites in holiday parks to plug up to a power supply. You can park up at any vehicle-accessible campsite and pay the fee.
What are 2-Berth Motorhomes Like to Drive?
As these types of 2-berth motorhomes tend to be up to 7.2m (24ft) long, you need to be a lot more aware of the space you are taking when parking. However, as a 2-berth motorhome, they take up as much width as a normal car on the road and are not as high as other types of motorhomes, making them the easiest type of motorhome to drive. Find out more about parking these vehicles in The Best Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand.
Most of these rental 2-berth motorhomes have automatic transmission, so are similar to a car to drive. However, you are likely to see age restrictions on motorhomes, with many rental companies requiring you to be over 21 to drive these vehicles. Find out more in Age Restrictions When Renting a Vehicle in New Zealand.
4 to 6-Berth Motorhomes
4 to 6-berth motorhomes are the largest types of campervans you can hire in New Zealand under a normal driving license. They provide the ultimate luxury and space in the rental motorhome world.
The Cost of Renting a 4 to 6-Berth Motorhome in New Zealand
With their lavish inclusions, large motorhomes are also the most expensive, being between NZ$220 to NZ$485 per day depending on which season you hire it as well as other factors. Once again, you can check those factors on How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car or Campervan in New Zealand? However, because you can fit more people in these vehicles, usually four to six people, bear in mind that the price can the split.
Typical Features of a 4 to 6-Berth Motorhome
These larger 4 to 6-berth motorhomes have the most space, therefore, the most room for a variety of layouts between vehicles. While some have two double beds, others have three double beds or the option to split into single beds. The inside is likely to fold between beds and a seated dining area. There will also be a shower and toilet room with hot and cold water, as well as an internal kitchen with a fridge, sink, water storage and water waste, gas stove and gas oven. You can expect ample storage for luggage, a power supply and often a few added extras such as a bike rack.
For more information on what to expect from your motorhome rental, check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Renting Your First Motorhome.
Where Can You Camp in a Large Motorhome in New Zealand?
These vehicles will always be self-contained meaning you can freedom camp anywhere for a couple of nights where freedom camping is allowed. You will need to plug up to a power supply on occasions to charge the power in holiday parks. Find more information in our Accommodation Guide to Holiday Parks in New Zealand. You can also camp in any other vehicle-accessible campsites, such as DOC campsites. Again, The Guide to Camping in New Zealand covers all your camping options.
What are Large Motorhomes Like to Drive?
Although those with a standard driving license are able to drive these large motorhomes, they do take some getting used to if you don’t often drive large vehicles. The typical dimensions of large motorhomes in New Zealand are L: 7.2m x W: 2.4m x H: 3.25m (L: 23ft x W: 8ft x H: 11ft), so you need to be aware of where the vehicle can fit as well as how much space you take on the road, particularly around corners. Motorhomes are not renowned for their speed so expect to take things easy on the roads and let other vehicles pass you when it is safe.
With most motorhomes having automatic transmission and being easy to drive, the manoeuvring is what you will need to get used to quickly. Get some tips for parking these beasts in The Best Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand.
What’s Included in Your Campercar, Campervan or Motorhome Rental
Now that you know whether a campercar, campervan or motorhome is better for your New Zealand trip, you’re probably wondering what extra amenities will be included in your rental. It’s unlikely that you will need to pack too much as campervan rentals in New Zealand come with a lot of inclusions. Make sure you always check before hiring the vehicle.
Typical Campervan Rental Inclusions
- Cooking utensils
- Tea towel
- Frying pan, saucepan, kettle, chopping board, etc.
- Duvet/bed covers
- Fire extinguisher
- Gas bottle
- Radio/CD player/AUX input
- Cleaning equipment
Find out more about what’s included in campervan rental vehicles in New Zealand in our guide, What is the Best Type of Vehicle to Rent in New Zealand? Plus, did you know you can hire privately-owned camping vehicles too? See our Private Campervan Rental Guide for more information.
More About Hiring a Campercar, Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand
That’s it for our comparison of renting a campercar, campervan or motorhome in New Zealand. For more camping road trip tips, take a look at our other guides:
- The Guide to Renting a Campervan in New Zealand
- Should You Rent or Buy a Vehicle to Travel New Zealand?
- How to Compare Car and Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand
Now that you know which campervan rental vehicle is right for you, do you need some road trip ideas? Check out the following itineraries for the best road trip routes:
- North Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary
- South Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary
- South Island Campervan Itinerary: 10 Days
- North Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary
- South Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary
- New Zealand in Three Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary
- New Zealand in a Month: Road Trip Itinerary.
Finally, if there’s anything that we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand.