Skip Navigation

Renting a campervan

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Renting a campervan

1. Posted by kimberleyb (Budding Member, 2 posts) 1 Jun '07 08:21

Hi!! 3 friends and I are travelling around SE Asia and New Zealand for almost 3 months beginning on the 28th June. We are in New Zealand for around 3 weeks from the 23rd August onwards and were hoping to rent a 4-berth campervan to travel around the country. If you could give us any advice on the best way to go about this we would be most grateful....such as realistically how much of the country would we be able to cover comfortably in this time period? We do want to see as much as poss. but obviously do not want to try and cram too much in. I have checked out some websites that offer pick-up in Auckland and then drop off in other regions? So perhaps it would be feasible to drive from north to south island and then catch an intenal flight back to Auckland for return flight home? Any advice or tips from people who have done similar things would be great!

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4363 posts) 1 Jun '07 09:32

I personally would advice against a 4-berth campervan; those things are friggin' huge (you need more space for that turn!), and it'll be a pretty frustrating driving experience going up the various mountain passes on the south island, trying to find spots to let the chain of cars behind you pass safely; and if there's snow on the roads (not quite unimaginable around the Southern Alps), that driving might be even harder. This is based on personal experience of being a passenger in one of them - not even on driving myself. I'd stick with getting a regular rental car and staying at hostels. A significant part of the extra costs for that should be offset by the much cheaper rental of a car and by not having to pay for a ferry crossing for a vehicle. (Almost all rental car companies offer drop-off of the car in Wellington, and picking up a new one in Picton, while I don't think any campervan rentals allow that.)

That said, you can take in a very large part of New Zealand in three weeks. The following should be quite possible, without leaving you too exhausted:
day 1+2: see auckland
day 3: drive to Rotorua, see Rotorua. (Or stop at Matamata on the way there to see Hobbiton.)
day 4: stop by Wai-o-tapu, drive on to Tongariro National Park (stay in whakapapa or ohakune)
day 5: do some walking around Tongariro National Park (given that it's winter I wouldn't recommend the Tongariro Crossing unless you're very prepared and it's very good weather, but there's plenty of other good walks)
day 6: drive to Wellington.
day 7: explore Wellington.
day 8: ferry to Picton, drive on to Nelson.
day 9: relax in Nelson.
day 10: drive to Franz Josef Glacier (long drive (6-7 hours?) but doable).
day 11+12: explore Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
day 13: drive to Queenstown.
day 14: explore Queenstown.
day 15: take a daytour to Milford Sound (very, very long day; don't drive yourself; take a tourbus; you'd be stuck in line behind them otherwise anyway)
day 16: drive to Mt. Cook. So dome walking around here, or sit on the balcony of the hermitage, marveling at the view (and/or cursing at the clouds which obscure said view). :)
day 17: drive to Lake Tekapo.
day 18: relax at Lake Tekapo. Climb Mt. John. Eat pizza at Pepe's and warm yourself on the fire in the hearth. (If you have the good luck of bright blue skies, and have the money, take a helicopter flight over the southern alps and around mt. cook - that should be absolutely glorious, even more so that time of year than usually.)
day 19: drive to Christchurch.
day 20+21: explore Christchurch, fly back to Auckland.

If you skip the extra days in Wellington and Nelson, and one of the days in Christchurch, you could also start with going north to the Bay of Islands from Auckland - but in my opinion that'd probably make it "cramming too much in" - you need the days of rest and just exploring a city for a while to recover from the driving.
Personally I'm not a fan of Rotorua. I know most people consider it a must-see, hence why I included it in the suggested itinerary, but I'd personally just skip it and use that extra day somewhere else. You can drive from Auckland to Tongariro National Park in a day with enough time left over to do the Hobbiton tour in the middle. (Although that will be a rather long day.)

[ Edit: Edited on Jun 1, 2007, at 9:40 AM by Sander ]

3. Posted by kimberleyb (Budding Member, 2 posts) 5 Jun '07 02:52

Thanks so much for the advice! I will definetely ponder the fact that the beast maybe difficult to drive along snow-covered windy roads and that it could be much safer to rent a car. Although, I do think my friends are set on the idea on renting a campervan.

Your suggested route sounds great and quite similar to one I had in mind, although obviously not with so much first-hand detail. Your advice has not fallen on deaf ears, but if we do decide on taking our lives into our own hands and renting a campervancar is there any particular company that is cheapest or that you can recommend? Or if we decide on renting a car? Thanks again!

4. Posted by KLL100 (Budding Member, 11 posts) 5 Jun '07 07:30

I'll be arriving in Auckland on August 19...with only my first four nights planned out. Let's meet up in Auckland for some drinks and figure out this campervan thing as well. I'm looking to do something similar to you and your friends. By the 23rd, when you arrive, I'll likely have advice from the locals on the best way to go about this. Let me know if you're interested.

5. Posted by fabbman (Budding Member, 16 posts) 5 Jun '07 10:02

Camper is defo the way to go, do what you like when you like! If you fancy something wacky check out the boys at www.wickedcampers.com.au and select the Kiwi flag, they are reasonable and chuck in all sorts of gear.
3 weeks is acheivable but depends on what you wanna see i guess, if time is limited save plenty of the trip for South Island. Hope this helps

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4363 posts) 5 Jun '07 10:24

I really have no idea on the cheapest campervan rental. We used Britz (one of the three large ones (as in, you see their campervans everywhere; the others are Maui and Kea)), and had no complaints whatsoever. They seem to charge $93/day for that timeperiod, which doesn't seem too unreasonable to me (and is much better than the other two big ones), although given that it's still off-season, you could probably find some cheaper rate somewhere else.
For car rental, I used Ezi-rent twice, and can highly recommend them. Their cars are older (have some dents and scratches on them from the unpaved roads you can still find in quite a few places in New Zealand, which they extensively point out when you pick up your car), which allows them to be quite a bit cheaper than most. Very, very good service.

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4363 posts) 5 Jun '07 10:25

Quoting fabbman

Camper is defo the way to go, do what you like when you like! If you fancy something wacky check out the boys at www.wickedcampers.com.au and select the Kiwi flag, they are reasonable and chuck in all sorts of gear.

I don't think wicked has any 4-berth campervans though, do they? Small vans are the only thing of theirs I've ever seen. *checks* Yeah, their booking form doesn't even go beyond 3 passengers.

[ Edit: Edited on Jun 5, 2007, at 10:28 AM by Sander ]

8. Posted by KLL100 (Budding Member, 11 posts) 5 Jun '07 11:44

Guys/girls,

If I am planning to be there for 6 mos to 1 year, would you suggest buying a camper van/car? Could you give me some advice on this? Best places to buy, things to watch out for, explain the WOF and insurance requirements...how much I should expect to spend....?

I am sure with some exploring I could find other posts about this, but everyone seems to be helpful and knowledgeable here...

Thanks all,
Kyle

9. Posted by Chris T (Budding Member, 16 posts) 6 Jun '07 00:07

Hi Kyle,

If you are going to be over here for that long, I would say buy a van/car. I put up another post about an hour ago about being ripped off with my van. I went to travellers autobarn in Sydney, and paid double the amount i should of done. When you get over here you will see plenty of vans and cars for sale, but its like anywhere else, whether you pick a good or bad one. I spent $6500 on mine, and have seen sooooo much better for soo much cheaper. If you buy one make sure you take it to a garage before you hand all the money over, just to get it checked over. try to get one with as much Rego (tax and third party person insurance) as possible, as if you travel through to a different state and your rego runs out, you may run into some problems. make sure you get the van\car re-registered into your name from the state you brought it from (charge of 8% of what you tell them you brought it for, nudge, nudge).

Things to check, everything you can, if you will be taking the van in the middle of no where you dont want it to break down. Tyres, and the spare, lights, oil, water, make sure no leeks, look over the water hoses to see if there are any bulges, as it will burst. Switch the engine on, to see if it makes odd sounds. check that the seats are in place correctly, and the belts work (only still got the one bolt holding my seat in properly!!). most of all make sure the stereo works, hey its a long drive to anywhere.

If you want any other advice\info just let me know,

Cheers,

Chris

10. Posted by KLL100 (Budding Member, 11 posts) 6 Jun '07 14:53

Thanks Chris...all of your info. is a big help. I am actually travelling to NZ and not Australia but I believe your points are valid in either country.

If anyone else who has rent/bought in NZ and has some words of advice...please post them here. Again, thanks.