The Complete Guide to Hiring a Campervan in New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of immense splendor and beauty. The country is known for its majestic landmarks, iconic beaches, and super-friendly locals. Regardless of the time you visit, there’s always something exciting to do in New Zealand.

Being predominantly an island country, there are numerous ways to uncover the hidden treasures of the Island state, ranging from chartered flights to boat cruises and even road trips. But like most scenic countries around the world, the best way to experience the magnificence of New Zealand is to go on a self-drive tour.

The main advantage of having your own vehicle is that you can explore virtually anywhere, including the regions that are located off the beaten paths.

Now, it’s almost impossible to discuss road trips in New Zealand without making reference to campervans, thanks to the country’s deep-seated culture of campervan travel. 

This post shall give a complete guide on how to rent a campervan in Christchurch New Zealand, including some of the famous road trips you can venture onto. But first, let’s outline what you need to keep in mind when looking for a campervan for hire in New Zealand. 

1. The Number of People You’re Traveling With

Generally, you’ll require a larger campervan if you’re traveling with a couple of other people. The ordinary small campervan can accommodate two adults. The larger ones can host up to four adults or a family of 5.

When choosing the ideal size of a campervan in New Zealand, your comfort and the rental costs should be the overriding considerations. For instance, you may still consider larger campervans even if you’re traveling solo or only with your spouse, provided you’re comfortable driving and with the cost of these gigantic machines.

But if you’re looking for more maneuverability and higher speeds, then your best bet is to go for smaller campervans. Remember, most New Zealand roads are narrow and winding, making them difficult to navigate with larger vehicles.

2. What’s included in the Campervan?

Many campervans in New Zealand, especially the larger ones, are self-contained. You’ll know a certified self-contained campervan by the presence of a blue sticker on it. Being self-contained, these campervans are ideal for camping in fairly remote places with a lack of running water. However, self-contained campervans means you must take care of all the waste disposal.

Also, not all self-contained campervans are built the same way. Some include only the basic amenities, while others have added facilities to ensure you have a comfortable and luxurious stay. Your primary concern is to establish whether any additional services, such as the provision of a driver, GPS, etc. come with extra markups.

But as a first-time traveler, you’ll do just fine with smaller campervans. That way, you can camp in major holiday parks and camping grounds, and banish the worries that come with sanitation and waste disposal.

Common Campervan Rental Restrictions

Renting a campervan in New Zealand is not for everyone, as there are certain qualifications to meet.

First, you must have a valid driver’s license. The license must be written in English. Otherwise, you may be required to obtain an International Driving Permit as an accompaniment to the driving license.

Age-wise, you’re generally safe if you’re 18 years or over. However, some companies may surcharge you if you’re under 25 years old.


Lastly, you should pre-determine the locations where you’ll camp every night. There are many campervan camping sites in New Zealand, and each comes with its own restrictions.

  1. i.Holiday Parks – Holiday parks come with numerous facilities. Examples include dump stations, kitchens, showers, laundry, and powered sites where you can recharge the power in the campervan. Needless to say, these amenities cost money. 
  2. ii.Campgrounds/Campsites – If you’re a budget traveler, you may consider camping at a campsite. The facilities offered at these sites are fewer and more basic compared to what you get at a holiday park. However, they’re far more affordable, and at times even free. 
  3. iii.Park-over Property – There may be a few landowners who charge a small fee to allow you to park on their property and stay overnight.
  4. iv.Freedom Camping – Certain areas around New Zealand allow for free camping for up to three days for certified self-contained campervans. However, the camping laws vary by each district, so always research beforehand before arriving at these locations.

How Much Does Renting A Campervan in New Zealand Cost?

The following are some of the costs you must take into account when budgeting for a campervan trip to New Zealand

  1. i.For international tourists, the first cost is transport to New Zealand and back home
  2. ii.Campervan rental base price in New Zealand
  3. iii.The cost of optional extras, such as GPS, picnic furniture, snow chains, etc.
  4. iv.Holiday parks and campground expenses
  5. v.Ferry crossing
  6. vi.Campervan insurance
  7. vii.Driver’s fee (for young or additional drivers)
  8. viii.Fuel consumption
  9. ix.One-way fee
  10. x.Food and other activities

Depending on where you look, you can rent a campervan in New Zealand for as little as NZ$19/day.  So, when searching for a campervan rental company, always keep your eyes out for promotional offers and discounts. 

On the same breath, beware of suspiciously low rental rates. You might just end up with an older vehicle model or a tiny campervan that comes with unreasonable renting terms. In most cases, you’ll rely on professional recommendations as you also follow your hunch.

The following elements further determine how much you pay for renting a campervan in New Zealand.

  1. Size of the vehicle – Smaller campervans are generally cheaper to rent. 
  2. Season – Prices peak in summer and plummet in winter. 8-seaters can cost as much as NZ$150/day during the high seasons. Usually, the prices are at their lowest in May.
  3. Included amenities and mandatory extras – A snow chain may cost you between NZ$5 and NZ$50 a day while GPS expenses range from NZ$5 to $10 per day of travel. Unleaded fuel costs NZ$2 per liter, and the total daily cost will depend on the distance traveled that day.
  4. Insurance – This can cost anywhere from NZ$0/day for high-excess options to NZ$60/day for a no-excess option
  5. Ferry costs – You’ll pay around NZ$420 each way in ferry costs between the two main islands of New Zealand. The fee also depends on the size of the campervan.

Popular Road Trips in New Zealand

1. Auckland and Bay of Island Loop

This road trip offers excellent views of the Northern coastlines as you explore the bustling city of Auckland. Along the way, you can consider a wine-tasting experience at Waiheke Island. 

You can go on the Auckland and Bay of Island Loop road trip any time of the year, including the winter months of July and August.

2. Auckland to Wellington

Auckland to Wellington road trip follows the Thermal Highway, enabling you to explore some of the country’s most iconic volcanic sites. Examples include the Lake Taupo volcanic crater, Rotorua, and numerous other geothermal sites. 

This 12-days road trip also features a wine-tasting experience at Martinborough, on your way to Wellington.

3. Forgotten World Highway

The Forgotten World Highway may not be a very long road trip, but it’s one of New Zealand’s most popular. The 93-miles-long road trip follows colonial bridle paths that were formed centuries ago, and is ideal for travelers who’re looking to take a trip down memory lane.

The meandering paths and the remote location of this road trip make it excellent for those who relish the quiet and quaint atmosphere of the countryside. Besides the rugged landscape, there’s a one-lane tunnel and a river gorge that makes navigating the highway a fete for the daring.

4. Christchurch to Queenstown

You begin this road trip at the quaint seaside town of Greymouth and then head south to uncover the rugged coastlines. You then drive on as you take in the sights of the imposing Southern Alps before winding up in Queenstown.

Along the way, you might also consider exploring Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, either alone or under the facilitation of local tour guides.

And there goes our comprehensive guide on renting a campervan in New Zealand. Remember that when it comes to exploring the best of New Zealand, the secret lies in finding a reputable campervan rental company.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.