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Rent a van / campervan in New Zealand: Guide and advice

Exploring New Zealand in a rented van or campervan is one of the best ways to discover the Kiwi country.

Similar to Australia, New Zealand is a prime location for a scenic road trip. Both islands boast diverse natural wonders, such as lakes and glaciers.

However, renting a camper or other converted vehicle in a foreign country can be challenging. This guide covers the essentials for a successful road trip, including choosing the appropriate vehicle and gear, planning your trip at the optimal time, and managing expenses. If you’re planning a road trip in New Zealand, this article is a must-read.

Why rent a van / camper in New Zealand?

1. Renting a converted vehicle is the best way to explore New Zealand

Travel options in New Zealand include organised tours, domestic flights, driving from North to South, and even walking the 3000 km Te Aroroa hike.

But if there is one way to travel that will allow you to explore as much as possible of what New Zealand has to offer in a few weeks, it’s by renting a converted vehicle.

There is simply no other way to get around the North Island, the South Island or even both! Plus, the ferry connecting the North and South Island allows you to easily travel with your vehicle.

Driving offers more independence and customisation compared to structured tours or hiking. You have control over your itinerary, pace, and length of stay.

2. Camping areas are easily accessible

New Zealand is truly a campervan/van-friendly country!

You will have no problem finding a place to stay with your rental vehicle.
There are free and paid camping areas (which often offer more facilities such as showers, cooking areas, etc.)

To find them, we recommend handy mobile applications such as Wikicamps NZ or Campermate which list them.

3. Expect diverse, awe-inspiring landscapes.

What sets a road trip in New Zealand apart is the diverse landscapes that can be experienced in a single day.

New Zealand’s varied landscapes, including rolling hills, crystal-clear lakes, glaciers, and more, can be seen in just one day. Its pristine beaches, fjords, stunning coastlines, natural marvels, and geothermal hotspots make for a truly unique and memorable road trip experience.

Don’t forget the abundant beaches (sandy or pebbled), stunning south island fjords, breathtaking coastlines, natural marvels, and unique geothermal hotspots that make New Zealand a one-of-a-kind road trip destination.

And yes, you can explore all of this in a few weeks.

How to choose your rental car (at the best price)?

Picking the right rental vehicle is crucial as it will serve as your home on wheels for the duration of your trip.
This is where you will prepare / eat your meals, spend your evenings, sleep, etc.

There are obviously several aspects that come into play before booking your van or motorhome.

Here are, in our opinion, the most important factors to make your choice (factors will also vary the price of the rental):

  • How many of you will be on this trip? Obviously, a couple will not have the same needs as a family of 5.
  • In what season / time of year do you plan to go? Seasonal fluctuations greatly impact pricing, making this a key factor to consider when budgeting.
  • The duration of your road trip: most travellers leave for 2 to 4 weeks, because you don’t go to New Zealand every day! With a 3-4 week lead time, you can secure better daily rates, and we excel in securing favorable deals.
  • Your initial budget: well yes, there are different models to meet different budgets (we’ll talk about that below).

Self-contained certification: essential?

Another major factor to understand and consider when choosing a rental car is the self-contained certification.

So there are vehicles without certification, and others with.

In simple terms, this is a certification that ensures that the vehicle has a toilet (“fixed” or portable), but also a dirty water collection tank (for the shower and/or sink, for example).

It is not a requirement, but in our opinion, it is a real benefit (if not a necessity). Note that most “free camps” only allow vehicles with a blue “self-contained” sticker.

This is a logical measure to preserve the environment as these campsites lack amenities and are often situated in remote natural areas.

What are the most suitable models for a road trip in New Zealand?

At Vanz Travel, we specialise in 4 vechicle types.

Why 4?

We’re confident that there’s a perfect vehicle option for any type of traveller.

  1. Convertible minivans: the most economical and discreet solution for a solo or double trip.
  2. Vans with a roof tent: Ideal for trips with 2-3 people, offering more space and the opportunity to sleep under the stars!
  3. The “high top” vans: these are much more spacious vans with a raised roof. You will be able to move around, cook and live there with more comfort. Some models also offer an extra berth, ideal for small families.
  4. Comfortable motorhomes: These vehicles offer unmatched comfort and interior space for a relaxed and spacious road trip. A compact home designed for unforgettable road trips.

Of course, you can customise the equipment for each model, and there are different models for each type of vehicle.

If you’re needing more information, have questions, or want a free estimate, feel free to reach us through this form.

The optimal times to rent a van/camper are?

A common oversight for those in Europe, the seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere.

In New Zealand, summer holiday season runs from December to February/March. This has an impact on the price of rentals as demand increases during this period.
To optimise your budget, try booking ahead or avoiding the “summer peak” by renting in November, for example.

Ask about the March/April/May period (we can probably get you very good prices at these times too).

While summer offers the best weather, prices tend to rise quickly as summer approaches, so it’s recommended to plan 3-4 months ahead if travelling during this season.

How much does it cost to rent a van/camper in New Zealand?

Budgeting for a road trip can vary greatly depending on factors such as the type of vehicle, rental duration, and the number of travellers.

But to give you an idea, here is an estimate of the daily costs depending on the type of vehicle and the season:

Convertible Vans

  • Low season: $70-80
  • Average season: $100-110
  • High season: $170-200

Hightop Vans

  • Low season: $90-110
  • Average season: $130-150
  • High season: $190-210

Comfortable Motorhomes

  • Low season: $210-240
  • Average season: $290-320
  • High season: $400-450

Adding insurance (there are 3 different levels) is necessary.

  • “Basic” insurance (often included): only the rental vehicle is insured, and the deposit / deductible amount is often quite high.
  • Intermediate insurance: often includes civil liability in addition to the vehicle, and drastically lowers the deductible amount/ deposit.
  • Premium insurance: everything is covered (except exclusions, depending on the provider) and the deductible amount is often 0.

To obtain the best rental rate, it is recommended to compare options and request a free quote well in advance.

Our last piece of advice to prepare your road trip in New Zealand.

Plan ahead!
Advance planning ensures a stress-free road trip experience from the start.
Planning ahead, including the time of year, budget, route, and desired on-site activities, is key to ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable road trip.

A road trip in New Zealand is an experience you should have at least once in your life!
The cost may be high, but New Zealand is one of the world’s most stunning destinations and the experience will be worth every penny. Trust us!

Anticipating also means planning the best possible itinerary according to the length of your stay. Doing the two islands in two weeks seems complicated, so choosing just one may be more beneficial.

With a 3-4 week trip and smart planning, you can easily explore New Zealand from top to bottom or vice versa.

For this too, it is often wise to seek information and advice from specialists.

Now you know a lot more about renting a van or motorhome in New Zealand.

We hope that this guide will help you in the preparation of your trip.

We are always here to help and guide you in making the best choices for your New Zealand road trip adventure! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance.

Have a good trip, friends!

The Vanz Travel team.