Renting a van in New Zealand
If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, then you have inevitably come across articles promoting traveling by van, or possibly by motorhome, in New Zealand.
Indeed, this way of traveling is particularly widespread in this country. The wide open spaces and many places dedicated to this type of vehicle encourage its use.
Here are 5 tips that will certainly make you choose this mode of travel.
Why rent a van in NZ?
The first point we will cover will be the reasons why you should opt for a rental van trip in New Zealand.
- The distances: most of the tourists visiting New Zealand have only one desire, to see as much as possible. Indeed, considering how far away New Zealand is and how long the trip will take, you might as well experience as much as possible. Therefore, you will have to travel a lot of kilometers. What better way to do this than in a vehicle you can sleep in?
- Places dedicated to van camping: New Zealand is a very well equipped country in terms of places that can accommodate vans or motorhomes. The regulations are quite flexible, especially for the so-called “Self Contained” vehicles, which we will talk about below.
- Sometimes rare accommodations: New Zealand is not a very populated country, especially the South Island. Some areas are even deserted of housing. In a van, it will not be necessary to look for the nearest town to find an accommodation.
- A total freedom: last but not least, traveling by van gives you total freedom in your travels. No need to book your accommodation in advance, your schedule adapts to your desires and not the opposite. A capricious weather can lead you to stay an extra day in a place or on the contrary, to leave it earlier than planned.
How to choose your van?
Did we manage to convince you to visit New Zealand by van? Before you go, some practical information to choose your van.
The differences between the vehicles will be essentially at the level of two criteria which are: the size and the equipment.
- The minivan : it is the smallest of the vehicles in which you will be able to sleep. With little equipment, it will allow you to travel and sleep for 2. You may have a kitchenette in the trunk.
- Fitted van: the van is bigger, it often allows you to stand up. The kitchenette is often of better quality and more spacious. It can sleep up to 4 people. But be careful, sleeping with 4 people does not mean being able to move around with 4 people. 4 seats equipped with seat belts are needed for this.
- Self-contained van: even if it is not the size that differentiates it from the “traditional” van, it turns out that the self-contained van is often larger. Some are almost comparable to a motorhome. The main difference is in the equipment. They are equipped with toilets, wastewater and clean water supplies. These extra facilities are important, not only for the comfort they provide, but also for the possibilities they offer you in terms of where to spend the night. We’ll talk about this a little further down.
Where to rent a van? Which rental companies?
We often break down van and camper van rental companies into 3 categories.
- The “low-cost” renters: we find, in this category, renters like Lucky Rentals or Happy Campers. They provide tourists with very basic vans, in which you can sleep and sometimes even cook. The main reasons for the often lower prices of their vehicles are the age and the number of kilometers. Indeed, they are often outdated vans, with a large number of kilometers on the clock.
- The “middle range” rental companies: these are the most common, we find the inevitable “Jucy” and their apple green vans, but also “Apollo”, “Spaceships” or “Britz”. They offer vans, and even recent motorhomes with a limited number of kilometers. They are fully equipped.
- The “premium” rental companies : they are few and offer almost exclusively motorhomes. This is the case of “Wilderness”, “McRent” or “Sunrise Holidays”. These are very recent models, regularly renewed and with top-of-the-range equipment.
To rent a van, the easiest way is to use a comparison of rental companies. There are several of them and they will have the advantage of searching, sorting and filtering the models according to your criteria of date, location, but also number of beds and equipment.
The vast majority of van rental companies are located here, with the exception of the “premium” rental companies.
Where to sleep with a van?
Now that you have all the cards in hand to find the perfect van for rent, let’s turn to the question of “Where to sleep?”
Before we focus on where to sleep, let’s talk for a moment about that famous “Self-Contained” certification.
I told you about it above, this certification means that your vehicle is equipped with water supplies (grey and clean), but also with toilets. This certification is not only to qualify the comfort of the vehicle, but also to allow it to access a whole range of spaces and areas to spend the night.
The great advantage of choosing a “Self-Contained” van is that you can spend the night in these places reserved for this type of vehicle. These places are, for the most part, located in the middle of nature in places that do not allow access to water or toilets, which is why only these vehicles are allowed.
Some of these places are also located in or near the city. The other advantage of these places is that they are mostly free. So it may be worth paying a little more for your van.
For vans that are not “Self-Contained”, it is still possible to find a place to spend the night for free. Some spaces have been created to accommodate these vehicles, but they are much more rare.
The other solution, if you have not opted for a “Self-Contained” van, is to spend the night in a campsite. There are many in New Zealand:
- Basic campsites: they are inexpensive, offer little equipment but will allow you access to drinking water, showers, a kitchen area and toilets.
- DOC campsites: some DOC campsites are accessible to vans. They are very basic, often with dry toilets and access to a water point. Their advantage is generally their location, on the outskirts or in national or regional parks.
- High-end campsites: these are more expensive, but offer top-of-the-line facilities. These are often chains such as Top10 Holidays Park. These campsites offer tent and van sites, with or without electricity, as well as various living areas: kitchen, TV lounge, showers and toilets, sometimes a swimming pool, children’s games, etc.
How to save money when renting a van?
The last point we will discuss is the financial side of van rental. When you do your research, you will quickly realize that renting a van can be quite expensive.
Here are some tips to reduce the bill:
- Reserve your vehicle as soon as possible: if you want to rent a van then get there as soon as possible. The closer you get to your travel date, the higher the prices will be,
- Avoid the very high season: if you can, travel to New Zealand outside the period from December 15 to January 31. This corresponds to the New Zealand school vacations. Of course, this is also the period when rental rates are the highest. By the way, we wrote a full article on when to go to New Zealand if you are interested,
- Compare itineraries: don’t hesitate to play with the pick-up and drop-off locations. For example, if you are traveling in late summer (around March-April), the majority of vans are in the south of the country, in Christchurch. Renters need to move them up to Auckland and charge lower prices. Most of the time, you will not be charged any abandonment fee in the South-North direction at the end of the summer.
I hope this article has helped you in renting a van in New Zealand. For those who prefer an equally nice way, here is the article to know everything about Camping in New Zealand.
See you soon,