Camper Van Rental New Zealand
Motorhome hire or camper van rental in New Zealand can be confusing because there are so many companies to choose from.
How do you compare campervans?
Are all camper vans created equally?
Are budget campervans in New Zealand the cheapest overall option?
Don't panic we will help you come to a choice that will suit you.
Before you rent, you might want to check out what other people have thought of different companies - for example, is the service good, do you get what you pay for etc? Go to Rankers, by clicking here (opens in a new window).
To compare different campervans features and rental companies Click here.
Broadly speaking, there are several tiers of camper van rental in New Zealand:
- Premium high specification new (less than 3 years old) vehicles. These vehicles will usually have TV / DVD with either diesel or gas central heating.
- New (less than 3 years old) vehicles with lower specifications.
- Older vehicles (more than 3 years old)
- Budget campervans
All these vehicles will give you a great New Zealand camper van experience, but you will want the very best option for you.
Choosing a Camper Van Rental in New Zealand
Before you start looking at the specifications and prices of camper van for rent, you need to consider what size campervan you need:
- How many people? - obviously a 2 berth camper will not be suitable for 4 people
- What are your plans? - a tour with lots of driving or will you be in one place for a while? - if you are not planning on doing a lot of driving, it will be roomier to have a 4 berth even if there are only 2 of you. If you are driving a lot, you want the smallest campervan that fits your requirements - you will use less fuel and have better access to all sorts of places
- Are you planning on using mainly serviced campsites or do you want to free camp as well? - to be able to free camp, you will need a self-contained campervan. Many districts specifically name campervans that are not self-contained and prohibit them from overnight parking in public places
- Are you travelling with children? - if so, where do the passengers sit? Campervans with passengers sitting just behind the driver and front passenger often suit families with young children because you can keep an eye on the children
So, you've decided what size camper van rental you want. Now, compare the different camper vans offered for rent by New Zealand companies by checking the specification sheets and campervan layouts taking the following into consideration
- Access to the Driving Cab - it will be most convenient if you can easily move from the driving cab to the main body of the campervan
- Air-conditioning - most new campervans will have air conditioning in the driving cab. Some will have a unit in the main campervan body but this will only work off mains power, so you will need to be plugged in.
- Cooking - we have a 4 gas hob and gas grill. We often have 3 of the hobs on at the same time, so would advise at least a 3 gas hob. We don't have an oven but haven't found we've needed one. We do have a barbecue with a lid that can give similar results to an oven if the lid is down. Some of the budget campervans have a barbecue arrangement rather than a hob.
- Dining - we have a table that can be placed in the lounge area and this works well. Some campervans have permanent dining areas that can also convert to an additional bed.
- Driving - there are both manual drive and automatic campervans available. We have a 6 speed manual which we like. The manual gearbox gives good control on the winding climbing roads that feature in New Zealand. We also have cruise control, which really makes the driving quite relaxed. We have a diesel 2.3l engine that is very economical.
- Entertainment Center - we have a DVD and full entertainment system, including iPod dock. Although, you will be enjoying the great New Zealand outdoors, it is sometimes nice to relax in the evening and watch a movie.
- Fridge - you will want at least a 2-way fridge. That means it will run off the house battery and the mains. A 3-way fridge will run off gas as well. We have a 2-way fridge with a capacity of 110 litres and it's perfect for our needs. A 60 litre fridge will be small but is probably okay for 2 people. Some of the budget campervans just have a chiller bin rather than a fridge
- Gas (LPG) Cylinder - 4.5 kg will last us (2 people) for just over a fortnight with daily showers and cooking. We have two 4.5 kg cylinders. We prefer to have two 4.5 kg cylinders rather than one 9 kg cylinder because when it runs out you have a spare.
- Heating - unless it's summer, it can get cold in the evenings and having central heating is a welcome bonus. Central heating can be supplied by:
- Heat pump - will only work when plugged into the mains
- LPG heating - works off the gas that you also use for cooking
- Diesel heating - works off the fuel tank and can be running while you're driving
We hate being cold so love our diesel central heating. The campervan is warm within minutes and there is a thermostat so we could have it on all night if it was very cold (we haven't needed to do that yet). Because it runs off the diesel fuel tank, we don't have to worry about using up our gas (LPG). We also have a heating outlet in the bathroom which acts as a drying room - this is very handy if you partake in activities that involve getting a bit wet - and there are lots of those in New Zealand.
- Insect Screens - there are so many places in New Zealand where you may encounter sand flies that having insect screens is a real bonus as you can still enjoy an open-air feel with your windows open but be protected from pesky insects. We wouldn't be without our insect screens which we have on our side windows and our skylight
- Lounge Area - we think this is very important to think about as you will want to relax after a day's driving. We have a U-shaped lounge area at the rear of our campervan. Personally, we are not fans of bench-like seating - you need to decide what configuration suits you.
- Microwave - these only work when plugged into the mains, so are not a good option if you want to freedom camp as we do. You won't be surprised to hear we don't have a microwave
- Power - this can be a limiting factor as if you haven't enough power, you will need to be plugged into the mains which means camping at a serviced campsite. Most campervans will describe 240 V which is when you're plugged into the mains. They will also usually have a 12V battery for lights and the fridge - this will recharge with driving. Some campervans will have solar panels or an extra long life 12V battery which will mean you can freedom camp and run all your gadgets for a few days before you need to start the engine again. Another must if you want to free camp is an inverter (which converts power from the 12V battery to 240V) which means you can operate appliances like computers and camera chargers etc, without being plugged into the mains. If you are planning on spending time at a serviced campsite, then you won't have to worry too much about power, but it will limit your travels slightly. Most DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites do not have power, and there are many that are worth a visit.
- Sleeping Arrangement - although a bed over the cab seems a good use of space, this may not be a good option for those of you who are less agile who will find climbing up a nuisance. People often think it will be more convenient to have a separate bed area, but we can make up our bed (our lounge area converts to a king size bed) in less than 5 minutes and we love that we have a wide open lounge area in the day.
- Shower / Toilet - if you get a campervan with a shower / toilet, you will be a self-contained campervan which allows you to freedom camp. You will also be able to still have a bit of luxury at the beautiful DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites that have only basic facilities. The daily rate for a campervan with a shower and toilet will be higher than one without but overall you could have a cheaper holiday if you mostly freedom camp or visit DOC sites
- Open-Air Feel - there's nothing better than pulling up beside the beach and sitting relaxing in your camper van. Being able to open up the campervan to get an open-air feel is great. We can open our back doors right up and the side door also opens so we really get the open-air feel. It's something else to think about when planning camper van rental in New Zealand!
- Outdoor Furniture and Barbecue - check whether these are included. There is sometimes an extra charge so what looked like a cheaper deal doesn't work out that way by the time you've added in all the extras.
- Water - the amount of water you can carry will be a factor determining how far "off the grid" you can go. There are guides to how much water you need to carry but it depends on how careful you are with water - somewhere between 10 and 20 litres per person per day will usually suffice. We use less than 120 litres in 4 days with both of us showering daily, so that's less than 15 litres each per day. You will have 2 tanks - a fresh water tank and a grey water (or holding tank). They should be about the same size. Some campervans will have tank monitors so you'll know when to fill up. Not all water from taps at dumping stations is suitable for drinking - make sure you use water that is described as drinking water or potable water. We have a water filter in our campervan but still boil all water before drinking.
- Extras - if you are having a winter holiday, you will want snow chains - some companies (such as Wilderness Motorhomes) have these as standard. You also need to check that there are no hidden extra charges. Some companies charge a diesel tax based on the distance you travel. Some companies charge a one-way fee if you are picking up and dropping off in a different city. These all add up (to over 25% in some cases) and that could mean that what looked like the cheaper option looking just at daily hire rate becomes more expensive than a campervan from a company that gives you a daily rate with no hidden charges.
Hopefully now it will be easier to choose your camper van rental. New Zealand is a great country and you will love seeing it in your campervan rental
Budget Campervan or Not?
If you're still not sure about which campervan to hire and are wondering whether to go for a budget campervan, consider again what your holiday plan is.
It is more expensive to camp in serviced commercial campsites than in DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites. If you are okay with roughing it, then it won't matter whether you are in a budget campervan, but if you like a little comfort, then it may still work out cheaper to rent a campervan with a higher daily rate and use mainly DOC campsites or freedom camp.
For more information on budget campervans Click here
If you have a self-contained campervan, so one with a shower and toilet, you can free camp and that has no cost, so the extra daily rate can be offset by the ability to stop where you like.
If you've never been camping in a motorhome before, you might want to check out our basic motorhome advice - we explain everything including how to dump waste and how power is provided. To read more, click here
Good luck with your camper van rental. New Zealand is waiting for you!!!
To compare different campervans features and rental companies Click here.