Best Campervan Rental in New Zealand: Everything You Need to Know

Without a doubt, the best way to travel in New Zealand is to rent a campervan (or “hire a campervan” as the Kiwis would say).

Ever since we built our own campervan in the U.S., we’ve been itching to get back behind the wheel. So we set our sights on NZ, and it did not disappoint.

There are few countries in the world as well set up to accommodate campervans than New Zealand. With holiday parks and campgrounds everywhere (as well as countless places to freedom camp!) you’ll have no problem finding a place to sleep. And with landscapes that look like they’re straight out of a movie — oh wait, they are! (Lord of the Rings, duh!) — endless adventures await you.

If you’ve been wanting to test out #vanlife, New Zealand is a perfect place to try it!

But hold up! Choosing the best campervan can be tricky. The best campervan company for us may not be the best for you.

Every traveler has their own expectations, level of comfort and budget to spend. So let’s start by going over the factors you should consider before you start looking at companies.

Know exactly what you’re looking for already?

[“Katie and Ben, I already know what I’m looking for and just want to see the best campervan rental companies…” Great! Jump down to that section here]

Still trying to figure out what type of campervan you’re looking for? You’re not alone! We’re about to help you out and point you in the right direction.

Write down your answers to the following criteria: 

1. What is your campervan budget?

We’re going to come right out and say it: Renting a campervan in New Zealand ain’t cheap. Even if you go with the absolute cheapest company out there, you’ll still be paying a considerable chunk of money.

However, traveling in a campervan is a great way to save money during your trip because you can cook your own meals (much cheaper than eating out!) and you can even find campsites for free (cheaper than staying in hotels!).

Related: Money-saving tips for traveling in New Zealand on a budget

So just how much do campervans cost in New Zealand?

Well, it depends on a few things.  

First of all, the time of year can affect the price significantly. If you are traveling in the peak summer season (aka December – March), expect to pay peak rates. And on the opposite hand, if you travel during off-peak season, you might be able to score a great deal. Shoulder seasons (before and after peak season) will grant you a rate that is neither crazy expensive nor super cheap.

Here is an idea to get you started:

  • Peak Season (Dec to Feb): $120 - $420 NZD per day ($82 - $288 USD)

  • Low Season (June to Aug): $30 - $120 NZD per day ($20 - $82 USD)

  • Shoulder Seasons (any other time of year): Expect to pay somewhere in the middle

Additional Costs: One important thing to remember is you’ll also likely be paying for campsites. Yes, there are free sites out there, but they do not have any facilities *erm showers!*. So unless you plan on going au naturel during your entire trip (more power to you!), your daily rate will go up a bit when you factor in campsite costs (more on that later!).

How much do you expect to spend per day? Now multiply that by how many days you plan to travel in New Zealand.

2. What are your expectations when it comes to comfort?

Another very important thing to consider is what level of comfort you are expecting.  

“I can make do with just about any campervan.”

If you are an avid camper and are used to tents and all the discomforts that come with sleeping on the ground, any campervan you choose will feel damn near luxurious. And if you’re used to sleeping in hostels, you’ll love the privacy that comes with your own space. Even if you choose the smallest, cheapest, oldest campervan, you will still have a good time.  

“I will be more comfortable with a nicer campervan.”

However, if you are used to roomy hotel rooms and are a bit nervous about this whole “campervan thing”, you might want to choose one of the more plush options to make this new experience a bit more comfortable. 

You know yourself and you’re the only one that can really decide what comfort level you are going to be comfortable with.

Here are some helpful things to consider:

Do you want to be able to stand up in your campervan?  

Many of the budget campervans are not designed to be able to stand up inside. So think about what this means and whether or not it is a deal-breaker for you.

Both the campervan we built ourselves and the one we rented in New Zealand were not possible to stand up inside. We did just fine in both cases, but both agree it would be much more comfortable to be able to stand.

Good to know: Camper vans typically have the kitchen in the rear so you can cook outside while standing, but other tasks like making the bed and getting dressed can be a bit tricky when you can’t stand. A plus to this type of vehicle is they are more streamlined, uses less gas, and easier to drive if you’re not used to big vehicles. 

Do you mind converting your bed every night and morning?

In some of the smaller campervans, the bed converts into a couch during the day. It can be tedious every night transforming your sitting space into your bed, especially at night in the dark with bugs trying to get inside at your lights.

Some of the large campervans have “rooms” designed for a bed and you won’t have to convert it twice a day.

3. How many people will you be traveling with?

The number of people you’ll be sharing the vehicle with can make a big difference in determining the vehicle you choose.

  • If you’re traveling solo, there are only a couple companies out there with single-berth vehicles. (You could also rent a 2-berth vehicle and enjoy a little extra space.)

  • If there will be two passengers, you will have the biggest selection of vehicles to choose from, as this is the most common layout.

  • 3-berths are a bit more uncommon, and are typically laid out as a double bed below with a small “loft-style” bed above.

  • If you have 4 passengers or more, you might have to consider whether you want everyone in one vehicle or should you split up 2 in one and 2 in the other. Of course you will want everyone to have their own seat, but then that means you’ll need a bigger vehicle.

If you are campervanning with kids, you’ll want to make sure they have their own seat and bed, so a 4-berth might be the way to go.

Another important thing to consider is this: How close are you to the person/people you are traveling with?

If it is a new friend or acquaintance, you may want a bit more room, as living in a campervan is... umm, how shall we put this... very close quarters. If it is a close friend or partner, you may do just fine with less space.

Make sure you ask these questions to your campervan travel partner before you book your van rental.

4. What size vehicle are you comfortable driving?

If you have a big budget to work with and you are hoping for a pretty high level of comfort, you might be drawn to the bigger motorhomes. They do look pretty damn luxurious! But before pulling the trigger, consider what it will be like to drive a large vehicle like that.

The roads in New Zealand (particularly on the South Island) can be quite narrow and winding. For the most part we felt pretty comfortable driving our van, but there were a handful of times we were incredibly happy we weren’t driving one of those gigantic motorhomes.

If you’re used to driving on the left-hand side of the road or have experience with large vehicles, you might be just fine operating one of the bigger models. But if you’re a more cautious driver and driving on the opposite side of the road makes you nervous, then maybe a smaller vehicle will make an easier transition.

On that note: Make sure you have good travel insurance for rental cars just in case you do get your lefts and rights mixed up and have an accident. We never travel without travel insurance and we have a whole article on what insurance we use and recommend.

Budget Note: Remember that larger vehicles are going to require a significantly higher gas budget.

5. How far in advance do I need to make reservations?

If you are planning to travel during New Zealand’s high tourist season (December – March), make your reservation as far in advance as possible.

Personal Note: My parents were planning a trip from mid-February through mid-March and by the time they started looking in early January, many of the good companies had already been fully booked, or the prices were insane! They were still able to find something, but just barely. So if that gives you any indication, you’ll want to start looking at least 2 months in advance (if not more).

If you are traveling in shoulder or low season, you’ll have a better chance of finding something more last minute. But you might not have much of a choice when it comes to your options. So if you’re particular about what you’re looking for and have a tight budget, we’d still recommend reserving your vehicle as far ahead as you’re able.

6. What will my campervan come with?

This depends greatly on which company you rent from. However, nearly all campervans should come with the following:

  • Bed & Bedding

  • Sink with running water (and a tank you can fill with fresh water)

  • Stove & Propane

  • Cookware and utensils

  • Cooler and/or refrigerator (Fun fact: Kiwis call coolers “chilly bins”!)

Depending on the campervan rental company, these amenities can be very basic or quite luxurious. Also, most companies have the option to add extras, which are typically charged separately. This can include:

  • Camp chairs or table

  • Rain tarp (pictured above)

  • Solar Shower

  • GPS system

  • Roof Rack

7. Do I need a self-contained campervan?

First, let’s go over what makes a vehicle “self-contained”.

While traveling around New Zealand, you’ll see vehicles with a “self-contained” sticker on their rear window (NZS 5465). This means that the vehicle has equipment onboard to remove any waste created by freedom camping. Simply put, the campervan has some sort of toilet and a grey water tank (a holding container for dirty water that goes down the sink).

There are certain campsites that only allow “self-contained” vehicles. And the only way you can legally do “freedom camping” is with a self-contained campervan.

Now, is it really necessary? Like most other answers, it depends on you. Freedom camping is, like the name implies, FREE! So if you’re on a tight budget and would like to try freedom camping at least a few times on your trip, then YES, you definitely need a self-contained vehicle.

If, however, you don’t think you’ll want to poo in your vehicle, then it might not be necessary. There are plenty of free (and cheap) sites that are perfectly fine for vehicles that are not self-contained.

Our pick: For us, it was important to have a self-contained vehicle not only to keep our camping options open, but to also dispose of any grey water at proper dumpsites and not harming the environment. We had a portable toilet, but to be honest we never used it. There are literally toilets everywhere in NZ.


Best Campervan Rentals in New Zealand

Now that you know exactly what you are looking for in a campervan, here are the best rental companies and compare their offerings. 

Budget

Mid-Range

High End

Budget Campervans

Mad Campers

Who is this rental for: Easy going, budget minded travelers with a sense of adventure to get off the typical tourist trail.

Type of vehicles: 1-Berth (Mad 1) and 2-Berth (Mad 2) campervans

Benefits: 2-berth van that drives very well, self-contained, decent gas mileage, comfy bed, outdoor kitchen.

Cons: Limited storage space making the roof rack add-on almost a must. One-Way transfer fee of $150 NZD.

Cost per day: Varies depending on campervan style:

  • 2-Berth: Peak Season $160 NZD per day, Low Season $50 NZD per day.

  • 1-Berth: Peak Season $100 NZD per day.

Escape Campervans

Who is this rental for: Backpackers and international travelers looking to travel as cheaply as possible, and don’t mind cuddling 3 wide. Best for really close friends.

Type of vehicles: 2-Berth and 3-Berth. The 2-Berth is spacious for 2, but the 3-Berth is the same style campervan but you simply add a third person in the middle front seat and in the bed.

Benefits: Unique and fun design painted on each campervan. Great reliable company. One of the cheapest options available. Self-contained options available.

Cons: Not able to stand up in the van. Limitied storage space. If you are planning on traveling with three friends this options would be uncomfortable.

Cost per day:

  • 2-Berth & 3-Berth: Peak Season $121 NZD per day, Low Season $29 NZD per day.

Personal note: Not all budget campervans are created equal. We traveled with a friend who rented a budget campervan she found on a cheap site. She had many problems with it along the way, like no orientation of the vehicle when she first arrived, missing items that were supposed to be included, the van required a jump start, and pieces of the van repeatedly fell off.

Can’t recommend all budget options, but Mad Campers and Escape Campervans are the ones we can.

Mid-Range Campervans

Jucy

Who is this rental for: Travelers wanting the convience of renting from the jugernuat of campervan rentals. Jucy has campervan rentals down to a science.

Type of vehicles: 2-Berth Campervans (JUCY Cabana Minivan & JUCY Coaster Campervan), 3-Berth (JUCY Chaser), 4-Berth (JUCY Compass & JUCY Condo)

Benefits: Well known company, many different styles, some styles are pretty spacious, self-contained, some styles have an indoor kitchen, able to stand up in the 4-berth vans.

Cons: You will be know by all other cars on the road as a tourist driving a green and purple van (but some styles are mostly white).

Cost per day: Varies depending on campervan style:

  • 2-Berth: Peak Season $175 NZD per day, Low Season $25 NZD per day.

  • 4-Berth: Peak Season $250 NZD per day, Low Season $48 NZD per day.

Travellers Autobarn

Who is this rental for: Travelers with a little higher budget, but don’t want to drive around the big rigs. These campervans are also one of the better options for 3 people traveling together, as there is a loft bed and extra seats in some models.

Type of vehicles: 2-Berth Station Wagon, 3-Berth Hitop & Kuga Campervans, 4-Berth Hi5 Campervan.

Benefits: Smaller vehicle with lots of space and you can stand up in the back. The kitchens are inside and include fridge (sometimes a freezer), microwave, and a 2-burner stove.

Cons: Only portable toilet (no indoor toilet), large labels on the side of the vans. More expensive.

Cost per day: Varies depending on campervan style:

  • 2-Berth Station Wagon: Peak Season $121 NZD per day, Low Season $21 NZD per day.

  • 3-Berth: Peak Season $312 NZD per day, Low Season $41 NZD per day.

  • 4-Berth: Peak Season $341 NZD per day, Low Season $45 NZD per day.

High End Campervans

Britz

Who is this rental for: 30+ travelers looking for a no-nonsense campervan because you might be exploring with loved ones and kids. You want the comforts of home in your camper but still seeking new adventures.

Type of vehicles: 2-Berth, 3-Berth, 4-Berth and 6-Berth campervans and motorhomes. Wide variety of amenities and add-ons in each type of vehicle.

Benefits: Quality campervans and motorhomes that can fit the whole family. Newer vehicles, 2016 and 2017 models. Indoor kitchens and bathroom (toilet/shower) in campervan. Lots of storage. One of the best campervans/motorhomes in New Zealand.

Cons: Large vehicles and can be difficult to drive, low gas mileage (but it is diesel, so a bit cheaper), high cost per day.

Cost per day: Varies depending on campervan style:

  • 2-Berth Action Pod: Peak Season $158 NZD per day. Low Season $95 NZD per day.

  • 2-Berth Venturer: Peak Season $420 NZD per day, Low Season $70 NZD per day.

  • 4-Berth Discovery: Peak Season $410 NZD per day, Low Season $80 NZD per day.

Maui Campervan

Who is this rental for: 40+ couples or families looking to travel New Zealand at their own pace, valuing local experiences and seeking spontaneous adventure.

Type of vehicles: 2-Berth, 2+1 -Berth, 4-Berth, and 6-Berth campervans and motorhomes.

Benefits: Maui has all the comforts of home, but on wheels. All vehicles are less than 2.5 years old with most less than a year old, so no worries about car issues. All have bathrooms (toilet and shower) and kitchens (mulitple burners & microwaves) inside the motorhome. Loads of storage space and hot water from taps.

Cons: Large vehicles and can be difficult to drive, low gas mileage (but it is diesel, so a bit cheaper), high cost per day.

Cost per day: Varies depending on campervan style:

  • 2-Berth Ultima: Peak Season $420 NZD per day. Low Season $110 NZD per day.

  • 4-Berth Cascade Motorhome: Peak Season $450 NZD per day, Low Season $110 per day.

  • 6-Berth River Motorhome: Peak Season $450 NZD per day, Low Season $125 NZD per day.


Still not sure on which New Zealand campervan company to choose?

Are you having trouble deciding on a campervan rental for New Zealand? Check out Motorhome Republic to compare different campervan companies in order to find the right vehicle for you and your dates.

We want to hear from you!

Which campervan sounds best to you? Still have questions or trouble deciding? Leave a comment below and we’ll try our best to answer! It’s likely others will have similar questions to yours.

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