ULTIMATE Guide to Renting a Campervan in New Zealand in 2024!

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So, you’re thinking about renting a campervan in New Zealand?

Great idea! Honestly, traveling New Zealand in a campervan was one of the best experiences of my LIFE!

That being said, I know that the whole planning process for renting a campervan in New Zealand can be a bit daunting. From choosing a campervan rental company to figuring out insurance and hidden fees, it all seems like A LOT.

I know, I’ve been there.

What style of campervan (or motorhome) should I get?

How much is hiring a campervan in New Zealand going to cost? Are there any hidden fees?

Are some campervan rental companies better than others?

Do I need a certain license to drive in New Zealand?

What age do I have to be to hire a campervan in NZ?

What are the road rules in NZ and what are the roads like?

Do I need a self-contained van?

These are all questions I had once and I’m pretty sure you have as well.

After traveling around New Zealand in a campervan multiple times, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. Between the hundreds of travelers I’ve met and the dozens of vans I’ve seen, I know what’s most important when it comes to renting a campervan in New Zealand.

So here it goes. I’ll answer all of these important questions (and more) to help you prepare for renting your own campervan in New Zealand and have the most epic road trip possible!

Why trust us: This guide comes from my personal experience as well as tips from my family (who visit New Zealand every year and rent a campervan or motorhome.)

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY and Star RV. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!

Different Types of Campervans in New Zealand

Two Britz Motorhomes parked up near Picton, NZ
Motorhomes are much larger than campervans.
Bailey poses for a photo with her Happy Campers campervan in Raglan, New Zealand
A standard campervan with a high roof.

There are 3 main types of rental vehicles available in New Zealand: 1) camp car, 2) campervan, and 3) motorhome.

Each has its own pros and cons, and they all vary in price range. The decision on which campervan you rent should depend on your budget, how many people you travel with, and your confidence driving on the roads.

1. Camp-car (1 to 2 people)

getting to the beaches in nz
Check out this cute one -person campervan by Mad Campers!

Price Range (NZD) :

  • Peak Season (Dec – Feb): $80 – $150
  • Low Season (June – Aug): $60 – $100

A “camp car” is the most basic campervan available for rent in New Zealand. It is generally a small-sized van or just a car with a fold-out bed.

The pros of renting camp cars include being easy to drive, cheap to rent, and inexpensive to run. The downside to camp cars is the small living space, generally uncomfortable to live in, use of a portable toilet, and limited storage space.

I would only recommend renting a camp car in New Zealand for shorter trips where you plan on spending some nights at holiday parks. Many camp cars are NOT self-contained certified, which makes freedom camping more challenging and, in some cases, impossible.

JUCY has a good selection of smaller campervans that you can browse here. We really like JUCY because of how affordable they are, plus they have a couple of depot locations around NZ which makes pick-up/drop-off a breeze!

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!

Mad Campers also offers one and two-person camp-cars. If you are interested in booking with Mad Campers, be sure to use our code DTRAVEL5 to get 5% off, you can request a quote here.

Related Read: If you want more information on “freedom camping” and “self-contained vehicles” check out our blog: Freedom Camping in New Zealand !

2. Campervan (1 to 4 people)

Kiwi Campers campervan in NZ
A typical campervan.

Price Range:

  • Peak Season (Dec – Feb): $150 – $200 per day
  • Low Season (June – Aug): $100 – $150 per day

Campervan rentals in New Zealand are the happy medium between liveability and driveability.

The pros of renting a campervan in New Zealand are that they are more comfortable than camp cars, easier to drive than motorhomes, have lots of living space, and have the option to share between up to 4 people.

The downside to a campervan is they are still not big enough to walk around in, involve folding away beds and tables every day, and only have a portable toilet. You can stand up in the larger campervans with the high roof, but you still won’t have a proper fixed toilet/bathroom!

Campervans can be used for both long and short trips and are still great for freedom camping. Not all campervans are self-contained certified, though. You will pay more for renting a self-contained certified campervan, but this will allow you freedom camp almost anywhere (that means not paying for campsites!)

You can easily browse all campervans available in New Zealand here on Motorhome Republic. Otherwise, JUCY has an excellent selection that’s well worth checking out.

3. Motorhome (up to 6 people)

Campervans and motorhomes parked in new Zealand
Motorhomes are larger than campervans, with a proper bathroom and walking space.

Price Range:

  • High Season (Dec – Feb): $250 to $300+ per day
  • Low Season (June – Aug): $170 to $220+ per day

Motorhomes are large vehicles made for living in and are very comfortable.

The pros of a motorhome are that they have a comfortable living space, feel like a home, can fit up to 6 people, are great for families, have a fixed flush toilet and bathroom, and have plenty of storage space.

However, the downsides are that motorhomes are very large to drive, expensive, have high fuel costs, and limited places you can visit due to their size.

Motorhomes are perfect for long and short trips and are really comfortable for freedom camping. If you have the budget and don’t want to rough it then a motorhome really is the best rental choice!

There are also lots of different types of motorhomes to choose from. If you’re a luxury traveler, Kiwi Motorhomes is the company to go with. Their motorhomes are honestly gorgeous and include all the bells and whistles (things you probably wouldn’t even think of!) If you use our referral code DEST5 you’ll also save 5% if you book with them. You can request a quote here!

For a more modest motorhome, check out the motorhomes by Star RV. They are a little more budget-friendly while still having all of the comforts of a spacious motorhome. Star RV also has offices around the country, so pick-up and drop-off locations are a little easier. You can check availability, prices, and book online here.

We also have a discount code for Star RV bookings made before June 30, 2024! Simply click here to browse availability and use the discount code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! Please note, this discount is only valid for those who are traveling before Dec 21, 2024.

Related Read: If you want to rent a motorhome, check out our complete guide to hiring a motorhome in New Zealand!

Things to Consider Before Renting a Campervan in New Zealand

There are a few different things you should think about before deciding on a particular campervan to rent in New Zealand. Some things to think about and consider are:

Will you freedom camp?

Campervans parked up along the coast at sunset in Wellington, NZ
Freedom camping is a fun time!

Freedom camping means camping for FREE! In New Zealand, there are various parking lots and areas allocated for those who want to freedom camp. The downside to these places is that they are very limited in terms of facilities.

Oftentimes, there will only be a pit toilet, and that’s it (no showers!) Alternatively, in certain regions, you can just drive off the beaten track and park wherever you want to camp with no facilities at all.

For both of these options, you will almost always need to be in a self-contained certified vehicle which is a New Zealand certification that basically means you can live in your vehicle without littering (or going to the toilet in the bush.)

If you plan on freedom camping, then picking a campervan or motorhome with some extra luxuries is a good idea. Having things like a second battery for power, a high roof, and an inside kitchen will help a lot when you’re not in a holiday park (or paid campground) with lots of facilities.

If you don’t plan on freedom camping and plan to use holiday park facilities, then you don’t need to spend the money on these extra features that you likely won’t use very often.

Almost every holiday park in New Zealand will have large common areas, including kitchen facilities, bathrooms with showers, laundry facilities, and some even have bars or restaurants. Some we’ve stayed at even have nice outdoor pools!

Do you want a “proper” bathroom/toilet in your campervan?

The portable toilets when renting a campervan in New Zealand
This is the portable chemical toilet provided in camp cars and campervans. It’s far from an ideal way to go to the toilet.

If you rent a campervan in New Zealand (not a large motorhome), then the toilet in the vehicle will be a small, portable chemical toilet. These toilets are required in order for the vehicle to get self-contained certified. However, they are not very practical, and most people avoid using them altogether.

Going to the toilet in the bush is illegal in New Zealand. Instead, you must either make use of this tiny toilet or be prepared to use public toilets while traveling around New Zealand in your campervan.

We had a portable chemical toilet in our van and in the several months we lived in it, we never used it. There are so many public toilets in New Zealand that using our own just wasn’t necessary.

In a motorhome (as opposed to a campervan), the toilet is fixed and flushes into a fixed tank below the vehicle.

Motorhomes also have a designated bathroom with a door. This is a must for some people but not so important for others.

If you’re not sure what toilet your rental comes with, then ask! It’s important to have the right expectations!

What size campervan are you comfortable driving?

a one lane bridge in New Zealand
There are lots of one-lane bridges in NZ.
A windy road on the Remarkables ski area access road
And expect narrow, windy roads.

If you’re not a confident driver, then getting the largest motorhome out there isn’t a great idea. It’s important to know before you go that many of the roads in New Zealand are windy and narrow.

Driving a large motorhome or campervan on these roads can be difficult, so it’s definitely something to think about before renting a campervan in New Zealand.

Are you renting a campervan during the winter?

renting a campervan in the winter in new zealand
A winter road trip in New Zealand can be fun if you’re prepared!

New Zealand’s winters are very cold (to me anyway!) On the South Island, temperatures can drop to -10 degrees Celsius. On the North Island, it can get below 0. If you plan on renting a campervan in New Zealand in the winter, you should try to get one that comes with a heater! Extra blankets will also come in handy.

That being said, please be aware that you cannot run an electric heater off a second battery, and will need to be plugged in at a holiday park. This is because heaters use far more electricity than your vehicle can handle.

I would also recommend getting a campervan with as much space as possible in the winter. You will be spending more time inside than in the summer, so you want to be comfortable!

You can browse ALL of the different campervans and motorhomes for hire in New Zealand on the website Motorhome Republic. It is a booking search engine for campervans and is a great tool for deciding the style you need!

The BEST Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand

Having lived in New Zealand for a long time as nomads (basically homeless), we really got to know the campervan companies well!

To be completely honest, most of the campervan rental companies in New Zealand are reliable. The standard in New Zealand is so high because of the competitive market. However, the big difference between companies is the service they provide!

Here are our personal recommendations for rental companies in New Zealand. These guys offer quality vehicles and incredible customer service:

JUCY (best for campervans)

Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite of ours!
Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!

JUCY is one of the larger campervan rental companies in New Zealand. What we love about JUCY is that although they are a bit of a bigger company than Mad Campers or Kiwi Motorhomes, they still work really hard to provide excellent customer service.

On top of that, they have a huge inventory of rental vehicles to choose from – everything from cars to huge motorhomes and everything in between! This means that you are likely to find something to suit your travel style and budget.

Here are some of the benefits to booking with JUCY:

  • Many of types of rentals to choose from to suit your travel style and budget
  • Lots of inventory, so they are also less likely to be sold out for your travel dates
  • Excellent customer service
  • Multiple offices that make pick-up and drop-off easier (and cheaper!)
  • Discounts at their hotels and restaurants across the country
  • Visually appealing campervans (perfect for your social media!)
  • Plenty of deals and promotions – they sometimes even do relocation deals!

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!

You can browse all that JUCY has to offer including prices and availability online here!

Star RV (affordable motorhomes)

two motorhomes drive on a road towards Mount Cook in NZ on a sunny day
You’ll go to the most beautiful places in your motorhome!

Star RV is one of New Zealand’s premier motorhome rental companies that seamlessly combines comfort, class, and convenience all at one incredibly low price for its customers.

Besides having some of the best prices in New Zealand, Star RVs fleet of 4-6 person Mercedes Sprinter vans come equipped with everything you need to have an unforgettable holiday. Regardless of the model you decide on each will have cutlery and dinnerware, pillows and bedding, a gas burner, GPS, an extendable awning, and 24/7 roadside assistance in the unlikely event that the motorhome breaks down. 

Are you traveling with your family or pet? Not a problem! Animals are welcome for an additional charge and if you need to rent booster or car seats they have plenty available. Star RV offers lots of additions like camping chairs, tables, and heaters you can add on easily. Something I especially love is that they offer linen changes while you’re on the road so you have clean sheets regardless of where your adventure takes you.

With online check-in and pick-up and drop-off locations at the Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown Airports their drop-and-go service means the rental process is as simple as it gets. There is even a free shuttle service to and from each airport for ultimate convenience. Please note that the last shuttle leaves 30 minutes before they close.

If you’re interested in purchasing insurance for a completely stress-free experience Star RV offers two premium insurance coverages. For an additional $49 NZD a day you have tire, windshield, and front, back, side, panel damage coverage. For $65 NZD a day, you have everything previously mentioned plus roll-over damage and some extra add-ons like camping chairs, a booster seat, and an extra cooking gas bottle.

Needless to say, for the premium service you receive as well as some of the lowest prices available Star RV is a fantastic option for those who are ready to experience the magic New Zealand has to offer. Just don’t forget to use promo code DTRAVEL24 for an additional 5% off!

You can search for all available motorhomes available from Star RV here!

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: We also have a discount code for Star RV bookings made before June 30, 2024! Simply click here to browse availability and use the discount code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! Please note, this discount is only valid for those who are traveling before Dec 21, 2024.

Kiwi Motorhomes (luxury motorhomes)

A New Zealand motorhome sits by a lake in New Zealand
Kiwi Motorhome is our personal favorite…just look at that snazzy motorhome! Use our unique discount code DEST5 to get 5% off your rental with them!

Kiwi Motorhomes is a small motorhome rental company that’s family-owned and operated! Their service is really the best you could ask for, and there are many benefits to choosing such a good company including:

  • No cleaning fees
  • No booking fee
  • Full comprehensive insurance (included in the rate!)
  • Free airport & airport hotel pick up/drop off
  • No RUK (Road User Charges)
  • One way hire options
  • An extensive list of free items (that usually cost more with other companies)

Aside from the extra benefits, you’re choosing these guys because you want great service, good quality vehicles, and that personal touch larger companies simply can’t give you! They also have great honeymoon tour packages perfect for your honeymoon in New Zealand so you don’t have to do any planning!

Check out our full Kiwi Motorhomes company review!

We reached out to Kiwi Motorhomes and made a special partnership with them so that you can get 5% off your motorhome rental! Just enter DEST5 when you you request a quote, and you’ll automatically save! Request a quote with Kiwi Motorhomes here!

Mad Campers (for camp-cars)

MAD Campers campervan parked up in kaikoura with views of the ocean
A standard Mad Campers campervan.
small campervan in new zealand
Me cooking in my Mad Campers one-person camp car.

Mad Campers offer options perfect for those on a budget. They have awesome, well-made campervans and we have rented a campervan from them before! They also offer a 1-berth camper which is really cool as it gives solo travelers the option to rent a campervan at a discounted rate for 1 person. Here are some benefits to choosing Mad Campers:

  • They’re environmentally conscious
  • Service is personal and really next-level good!
  • One of the cheapest companies with the best vans
  • We can also get you a 5% discount (10% if you complete the MAD Challenge!) Use DTRAVEL5 code when requesting a quote to save!
  • They’re travelers too so they have the best advice!
  • They run the MAD Challenge (5% discount if you complete it)
  • They have a one-person campervan

But like above, they’re a small company owned and operated with a passion for travel around New Zealand!

We loved our rental with Mad Campers so much that we’ve partnered with them to secure our readers a special deal! Enter in DTRAVEL5 when you request a quote or book to get 5% off your campervan rental! You can request a quote with Mad Campers here!

Other Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand

Just because we’re partial to Mad Campers and Kiwi Motorhomes doesn’t mean they’re your only option. There are literally dozens of campervan rental companies in New Zealand and it is probably in your best interest to shop around!

Here are some more companies we’ve heard good things about:

Budget Campervan Rentals in NZ:

Happy Campers offers smaller mini-van style campervans for the budget travelers but also larger styles if you want to spend a bit more for space.

space ships rentals logo

These guys have really great reviews even though their campervans are some of the cheapest available!

Mid-range Budget Campervan Rentals:

tui campers logo

Tui Campers offers a campervan that has a high roof and the kitchen inside, it is the perfect mid-range option for those who want to live comfortably but also on a bit of a budget.

jucy rentals new zealand

Jucy is a very large company in New Zealand. They have tons of campers to choose from as well as hostels, restaurants, and tours you get discounts at if you rent with them!

Luxury Motorhomes:

disocver nz logo

Discover NZ Motorhome Rentals have some of the best reviews on Motorhome Republic but they don’t come cheap as one of the most luxurious and expensive motorhome company in NZ.

maui campervans nz logo

Maui is one of the largest motorhome rental companies in New Zealand. They have a huge selection of different sizes and styles of motorhomes!

You can either browse each company individually or browse every company on Motorhome Republic. Either way works great, depending on how much time you have to search.

How far in advance do I need to book a campervan?

campervan photo near queenstown new zealand
Me, hanging out the window of our campervan on the road to Moke Lake just on the outskirts of Queenstown.

If you know when you’re going to New Zealand, then I would suggest booking your campervan rental as soon as possible.

Why? To avoid missing out!

Some of the best campervan hire companies we recommend are small companies with only a limited number of campers or motorhomes to hire out. In the summer months, these companies WILL book out. However, in the winter, they may not.

If you are visiting during the summer months (December to March) I recommend booking your campervan at least 6 months in advance. This is the busy season when it comes to road tripping in New Zealand and therefore, it is more important to book in advance.

During the winter (June to September) there are a lot fewer people renting campervans in New Zealand so you don’t need to book as far in advance.

What if you’ve left it too late?

You might not be out of luck quite yet. Search for available campervans for your travel dates on Motorhome Republic here or on JUCY here. These two companies are your best bet for finding something somewhat last minute.

What does it cost to hire a campervan in New Zealand?

Renting a campervan in New Zealand is a life changing experience
Vanlife has its ups and downs but overall it’s a life-changing experience and worth every penny!

Most campervans cost between $45-200 USD per day for the base rental rate. Of course, this is a BIG range. Prices differ quite a lot on campervan hires based on a few reasons:

  • The size of campervan or motorhome you rent and the number of people it fits. Larger campervans and ones that sleep more people cost more.
  • The season you are renting your campervan. Summer is peak season and the most expensive time to hire a camper in New Zealand. Winter is considerably cheaper.
  • What your campervan comes with. Some companies include things like a fold-out table and chairs, towels, etc

But the base daily rental rate isn’t your only expense. There are some extras that you WILL have to pay and should budget for…

Extra Campervan Costs in New Zealand (that most people don’t know about)

Campervans parked along the coats in Kaikoura, NZ

These fees are not hidden as such but are more unknown to most and can be missed when calculating your budget.

Pick-up and drop-off location fees

When you rent a campervan in New Zealand, you must select a pick-up and drop-off location. If you choose to drop your campervan off in another city, you will likely be charged a relocation fee. These fees can exceed $300 NZD. For this reason, it’s important to know exactly what you want to see and if you can see those things and end up back in the city in which you started.

Related Read: Check out our blog on 10 New Zealand road trip itinerary ideas to help you pick the perfect New Zealand road trip itinerary and minimize these fees.

Fuel tax

The fuel tax in New Zealand is a tax on diesel vehicles that is paid per 1000km. This is paid for by the rental company in advance but is passed onto you depending on how many kilometers you do on your trip (unless they specify it’s included). This tax is paid on diesel vehicles only.

This fee is around $7 – $10 NZD per 100km depending on the size of the campervan. It is worth noting that with this tax, fueling up a diesel vehicle is about the same cost as a petrol vehicle (petrol is more expensive at the pump but does not get taxed afterward.)

A man fuels up a rental vehicle in New Zealand
Daniel, fueling up our rental car on our last trip.

Gas bottle refill

If you use a gas bottle (which all campervans do,) then you need to make sure it’s full when you return it. This cost depends on how much you use.

My advice is NOT to go to a “swap and go”. These places basically just swap your bottle for a full one, and while it is quick, it is more expensive.  They will charge almost $40 NZD compared to $3.30 NZD a liter at a refill station. In three weeks, you will be lucky to use a third of a 9-liter bottle, meaning it should only cost $10 NZD to refill.

You can find these refill stations at certain fuel stations or at specific gas businesses. However, the most common place is at CALTEX fuel stations. If you are unsure where there is one in your area, just call up the nearest visitor center (i-site) and ask. They will be able to tell you where to go!

Kilometer Limits

Some campervan rentals in New Zealand come with a limit on the number of kilometers you’re allowed to do on your trip without incurring an extra fee. Please check this with your rental company to ensure you have budgeted correctly for your trip!

Cleaning fees

If you don’t clean your campervan sufficiently, the rental company can charge you cleaning fees. Most rental companies in New Zealand only require the floor to be swept, gas bottled filled, and benches wiped down. However, please check with your rental company on these requirements.

the inside of our campervan
The inside of our campervan, all tidy and clean!

Pre-rental inspection

Rental vehicles change hands regularly, and small damage can get missed by one inspector and picked up by another. For this reason, it’s important to note down any damage you notice when you pick up your campervan rental in New Zealand.

Do not let the rental company tell you what’s wrong. DO YOUR OWN INSPECTION and make sure every item that has even the smallest amount of damage is in the pre-rental report. Also, it’s a great idea to take your own photos for your record.

Toll Roads in New Zealand

There are a few toll roads in New Zealand. These tolls are not expensive and only cost around $2 NZD. These can be paid online just by entering in the number plate on this website.

Interisland Ferry (between the North and South Island)

If you’re picking up your campervan on one island and dropping it off on another, it is your job to book the ferry between the islands. Booking the ferry in advance can save you money and make your road trip in New Zealand hassle-free. You can book your ferry tickets here.

It is important to know that in peak season, the ferry will get fully booked months in advance. If you know that you’ll need the ferry, book it ASAP! You can book the Interislander Ferry online here, or the other ferry company is Bluebridge that you can book here.

driving a car onto the iterislander ferry in NZ
You’ll need to book a ferry to travel between the North and South Islands.

Extras:

Depending on the company that you book with, your included extras will differ. For example, a table and chairs are not always included, neither is a fan. Some extras to look for before renting a campervan in New Zealand are:

  • Fold-out table and chairs – you”ll want this for eating outside of your van whenever the weather is nice.
  • Fan (for summer)
  • Heater (for winter)
  • Fridge
  • Pots, pans, and utensils
  • Towels

Related Read: We wrote an awesome blog that includes 10 different tips on how to get a CHEAP Campervan Rental in New Zealand.

*Don’t forget insurance costs as well! Depending on your travel insurance, this can be a hefty cost. Keep reading for more info on campervan rental insurance in NZ and the cost!

What to do if a campervan is too expensive for your budget?

Bailey poses with her rental car in New Zelaand
Consider renting a car instead!

I get it. I mean, in the last couple of years, the cost of renting a campervan in New Zealand has sky-rocketed!

So if you’re reading this and thinking that the cost of renting a campervan is out of your budget, then I recommend renting a car instead.

A small car gives you the same freedom as a campervan to get around on your own schedule, but is quite literally a small fraction of the cost of a campervan.

I know what you’re thinking – but with a campervan, don’t I save on accommodation?!

The truth is, kind of. In a self contained campervan, you can camp for free sometimes, but it is more difficult to do this in recent years. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself paying at least $10-15 NZD per night for a basic campsite. If you want power and showers, expect to pay $35-70 NZD per night at holiday parks.

A tent at a campsite along Arthurs Pass, NZ
Our tent campsite on Arthur’s Pass where we stayed with our rental car.

With a car, you can still camp and stay at holiday parks. The last big road trip that we did in New Zealand was actually in our tiny car, and we just packed our tent and camped at holiday parks and DOC (government) campsites along the way to save money.

A rental will cost you as little as $40 NZD per day. You can also pick up a tent from Kmart in New Zealand for around $20 NZD. You can also purchase cheap camping gear like a chilly bin (esky/cooler) there as well as a sleeping bag and pillow. For cooking, almost all holiday parks have kitchens, so just use those.

Alternatively, book a rental car and then stay in Hostels! It will likely still work out cheaper than a campervan.

You can search for rental cars easily online here with Discover Cars (we use them all the time and they make renting a car in NZ easy.)

What time of year is best for renting a campervan in NZ?

Dont limit the km's on your campervan rental in New Zealand
All times of year are amazing for exploring NZ…you just need to prepare a little differently for each season!

The choice is ultimately yours…do you prefer beaches or winter sports?

The truth is that any time of year is fine for renting a campervan in New Zealand – you just need to be properly prepared!

Winter

In the winter, it can get quite cold sleeping in a campervan (especially in the South Island.) Make sure you bring lots of warm clothes and ensure your campervan comes with warm blankets!

The road conditions can also be a bit icy and snowy. Your rental company will provide you with snow chains in case you need them. If you don’t know how to fit them ASK before taking off. Snow chains will be required on certain mountain passes or roads.

The upside to renting a campervan in New Zealand in the winter is that it will be much cheaper. The base rental fees for the campervan will be cheaper as well as the fees for staying in holiday parks. Not to mention that most tourist attractions will be less busy and booking holiday parks and activities in advance is not necessary.

Summer

The summer is the busiest time of year for traveling around New Zealand in a rented campervan. Certain campgrounds will be fully booked and certain attractions are packed.

Sometimes it can get very hot sleeping in a campervan in the summer as well. Be sure your campervan rental has curtains because keeping the sun out is a good way to minimize the heat.

That being said, in the summer it is gorgeous! You can relax at the beach or tackle any hike (many are closed in the winter.)

What kind of driver’s license is required to rent a campervan in NZ?

sunset and van in new zealand

First off, you’re going to need a valid driver’s license to rent a campervan or motorhome in New Zealand.

Most companies state that if you have a driver’s license in English from your home country then you will be fine to drive and rent a campervan in New Zealand (providing that license allows you to drive the same vehicle in your home country.) They will also accept an international driver’s license in this case.

Non- English License

If your driver’s license in your home country is not in English you will need to have it translated to English and bring BOTH licenses with you when you pick up the campervan. This translation MUST be done by an NZ Transport agency authorized translator, consulate or embassy, or by the organization that authorized your license in your home country.

Rental companies MAY also accept an international driver’s license that has been translated into English. Here is a list of authorized translators.

Some rental companies can also offer a translation service at the time of picking up your vehicle. This does cost around $70 NZD and needs to be organized in advance.

How to ensure you have the right license: The best way to make sure you have the correct license is to contact the company before you arrive. This way way you can let them know what license you have and find out what you need to do to get on the road in New Zealand!

Related Read: PLanning a road trip? Check out the best destinations to visit on the South Island!

What are the roads and driving conditions like in New Zealand?

a road in new zealand
Yes, this is an actual road in New Zealand! You need to go slowly and carefully, especially when driving in the mountains!

The roads in New Zealand are alright. Okay, I know, that’s vague. Let me explain…

Most roads in New Zealand are paved and well-maintained. You don’t need to worry much about potholes or gravel roads. Almost everywhere you will want to go has paved road access.

But the highways are often narrow single lanes. This means you’ll be driving well over 80km/h, speeding past oncoming traffic.

It also means you can be stuck behind a slow vehicle for a longggggg time. Patience is a virtue, and allow yourself more time than Google Maps suggests to get from points A to B (especially on the South Island).

There are also a lot of mountains in NZ (duh!) When driving near mountains or through mountain passes, the roads can be very windy. Expect lots of turns, single-lane bridges, and blind corners.

In the winter, there can be road closures due to snow and ice. Usually, closures only last for a day or two. The most common road closures include the road to Milford Sound and the Crown Range, which is a pass that connects Wanaka and Queenstown (but there is an alternative route.)

Your rental company will also supply snow chains during the winter and teach you how to use them if you’re traveling in the winter.

If you’re careful, though, allow yourself lots of time, and take it easy, you should be just fine. Just make sure that if you rent a campervan you are comfortable with in terms of size and navigating smaller, curvy roads.

What’s the deal with campervan insurance?

enjoying beer with a view from inside my campervan
Enjoying a beer with a view from the comfort of my tiny campervan!

Hiring a campervan in New Zealand can mean complicated and expensive insurance packages or a huge excess (also called a deductible.) There are many options offered by campervan companies, with the best being a comprehensive cover.

You pay more for better insurance. So, comprehensive cover is more expensive than basic. You also pay more to reduce your excess or deductible. So, depending on the company you choose, insurance can be costly.

Here are some ways around the high insurance expense:

Third-party Excess (deductible) Insurer

When you get insurance for your campervan, you have a couple of options – you either get the most basic insurance that comes with a high excess (thousands of dollars), or you pay a lot more for insurance upfront and get a reduced excess.

Going with a third-party excess insurer means that you get the basic insurance from the rental company (with the big excess), and instead of paying huge fees to have the excess reduced, you take out a policy with another insurance company to cover the excess.

Simply put: If your excess is $10,000, you take out a policy to insure the $10,000 in case you have an accident.

This works out much cheaper than the cost of reducing the excess. For example, to reduce an excess (deductible) from $8000 NZD to $0 for a 4-berth motorhome last year cost my mum $2000 NZD extra directly through the motorhome rental company!

To get a quote for third-party excess insurance, click here!

With all of that said, if you rent from a good company, reducing your excess with them may only cost you an extra $30-50 NZD per day. JUCY is a company that we know has reasonable insurance rates.

Travel insurance

Another option is to get travel insurance which includes rental car insurance. These can work out cheaper than taking out two policies. Just be sure to check with your travel insurance what they cover for rental cars; some include an excess (deductible) insurance which is what you ideally are looking for.

How old do I need to be to rent a campervan in NZ?

freedom camping in our new Zealand campervan
Freedom camping!

To rent a campervan in New Zealand, you must be at least 18 years of age. This age limit is for smaller and more basic campervans. If you wish to rent a larger motorhome, you generally must be over the age of 21.

When it comes to renting a campervan, generally speaking, you will need to pay an extra fee or have a higher excess if you are under 25. This is because you are considered a high-risk driver. For more information, contact your chosen campervan rental company directly.

JUCY is a great company to consider if you are younger. You can check what they have to offer online here.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!

Anything else I should know?

New Zealand campervan rental guide
The views you can expect of a New Zealand road trip!

Read the fine print

When renting a campervan in New Zealand, it’s important to read the fine print of any contract before you sign it! Some of the most common details included in fine prints are:

  • Restrictions on driving on certain roads
  • Driving restrictions to ski fields
  • Driving restrictions on gravel roads
  • Driving restrictions on beaches (like Ninety Mile Beach)

Third-party bookings

Renting a campervan in New Zealand through a third party booking agency does have its pros and cons. There are great companies out there that can save you money.

One company that is very reputable and we personally recommend is Motorhome Republic. It is very easy to use their website and a great way to compare styles of campervans in New Zealand and prices.

Ready to look at campervan rentals?

A campervan parke up at a freedom camping spot
There are lots of different campervans to consider!

Now that you have all the info you need before you rent, it’s time to shop around!

You can search for rental cars online here in advance to compare car models and prices.

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

Personally, we recommend renting a campervan from JUCY. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style. You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!

Kiwi Motorhomes is another company we personally recommend but specifically for luxury motorhomes! They offer luxury motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates. Check out our full review on them as well as more info specific on renting a motorhome in NZ in our guide!

Kiwi Motorhomes has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DEST5 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental!

Renting a Campervan in New Zealand FAQs

Euro Campers campervan drives outside of Picton, New Zealand
How much does it cost to rent a campervan in New Zealand?

Renting a campervan in NZ costs around $100-250 NZD per day, depending on the season you travel and the size of the camper.

Can you drive a campervan with your international driver’s license?

A normal full driver’s license is generally fine to rent and drive a campervan in New Zealand. If your driver’s license is in a language other than English, you may need to get it translated first. It’s best to check with your chosen rental company prior to confirming your campervan rental.

Do campervans have bathrooms?

Most of them don’t! All campervans will have a small portable toilet which is not very nice to use (so most people don’t.) There are lots of clean and free public bathrooms around New Zealand, which you can take advantage of while on the road.

Can you sleep anywhere in a campervan in New Zealand?

No! Every town and region have their own rules about where you can and can’t park and spend the night in your campervan. Normally, you need to be on the outskirts of the towns/cities or park in a parking lot that is specifically allocated for “freedom camping” (sleeping in your campervan.)

Thanks for reading!

selfie of daniel and bailey on new zealand's west coast
Thanks for reading!

Renting a campervan in New Zealand is the first step to having an amazing time on your road trip. For this reason, it’s one of the most important things to get right! This guide is not here to just help you plan your trip, but help you prepare for van-life and have realistic expectations so you can hit the road and love every minute!

There are a few amazing places in New Zealand that you will definitely want to check out along your road trip! They are:

…and many more. Check out the rest of our blogs about New Zealand!

*If you are considering converting your own campervan, check out our blog on buying a campervan in New Zealand first!

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