Mad Campers Review: New Zealand’s Best Budget Campervan Rental?

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Mad Campers is one of New Zealand’s most well-known campervan rental companies. In this Mad Campers New Zealand review, we’re sharing why we chose this company, our personal experience, and our honest opinions on the campervan we rented.

Mad Campers New Zealand Review

If you’re on the hunt for the cheapest campervan rental in New Zealand, you’ve probably stumbled across Mad Campers. They’ve got a fun website and solid marketing, so they’re pretty well-known in the NZ vanlife scene.

If you have heard of them, you might have some questions, like: Do they live up to the hype? and Is Mad Campers the right choice for me? 

Well, we have personally rented from Mad Campers and we think we can help make this decision a whole lot easier for you.

In this Mad Campers review, we’re sharing our personal experience, our honest opinion, and insider tips to ensure you have a great NZ campervan trip.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, if you’re in a hurry and just want us to give it to you straight whether we recommend Mad Campers, here you go:

We highly recommend Mad Campers for solo travelers, couples, or friends looking for a budget-friendly campervan rental in New Zealand.

On the other hand, if you’re traveling with a family, you have a bigger budget to play with, or you want a bougier camping experience, you might be happier with a different company. (Jump straight to our top picks here!)

Mad Campers New Zealand review guide

Before you book, be sure you’ve read over all the things to think about when choosing a campervan rental. What worked well for us and what we recommend may not be the best choice for you. Jump to that link to learn about all the things to consider when it comes to your priorities because there are likely a few you’re forgetting. This will be essential to choosing the best campervan rental for you. 

Disclaimer: We worked with Mad Campers on an exchange basis and our rental was partially covered in this partnership. That said, this article shares our completely honest opinions (including the negatives!). We value honesty and transparency, so we always strive to share our real, raw experiences to help you make the best decisions for booking your own travels.

Want to save time and energy on planning?

We spent 5 weeks traveling around New Zealand in a campervan, and we’ve been lucky enough to explore a lot of what this country has to offer!

We took our 5-week travels and condensed it down to 30 days (because so many people wanted a 1-month route) that hits the top destinations on both the North and South Islands. 

We’ll send you our complete 1 month itinerary, filled with tips and advice. Just click below to get your 30-day New Zealand road trip itinerary today!

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About Mad Campers

Mad Campers
  • Price range: budget 
  • Recommended for: budget travelers, adventure seekers
  • Pick-up/drop-off locations: Auckland and Christchurch
  • Who is this rental for: Easy going, budget-minded travelers with a sense of adventure to get off the typical tourist trail. 
  • Check availability here

Mad Campers was founded in 2017 by three Kiwis who share a passion for outdoor adventures, travel, and showing off their home country.

They know exactly what their customers need for a successful road trip and they build van conversions with simple, function-forward designs, kitted out with all the essentials.

Mad Campers have rental facilities in both Auckland on the North Island and Christchurch on the South Island, so they have options no matter which island you plan to explore. You can also pick-up in one location and drop-off in the other for an additional one-way transfer fee.

Why Mad Campers

Mad Campers New Zealand Review

Before our trip to New Zealand, we did a ton of research. We scoured reviews, compared specs, and analyzed prices to be sure we were choosing the very best campervan rental. Here are some of the reasons we landed on Mad Campers:

1. It’s a local company

We love supporting local businesses no matter where we find ourselves in the world. Mad Campers is Kiwi-owned, so if choosing local is important to you, then you’re already on the right track!

2. They have a really fun vibe

New Zealand campervan road trip

Stuffy, uptight, and boring are three words I would NOT use to describe Mad Campers! One look at their website or socials will tell you that you’re going to have the time of your life.

3. It’s a great budget option

This was our first international campervan trip and we were on a very tight budget, so Mad Campers’ affordable price tag was a huge draw for us.

Psst! If you’re a budget traveler, you won’t want to miss our money-saving tips for New Zealand.

4. They have excellent reviews

North Island New Zealand Mad Campers

Whether we’re booking a campervan rental, accommodations, or experiences, we swear by reading reviews (this is one of our top tips for choosing the best Airbnbs!).

Mad Campers has stellar ratings and rave reviews from previous customers, so we felt confident booking with them.

5. We have a special offer just for you!

You won’t want to pass on this!

Mad Campers Special!

Since we traveled with Mad Campers throughout New Zealand, we built a pretty good relationship with them. They are offering all of our readers 5% off!

Enter your email below and we’ll send the 5% off discount code straight into your inbox!

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Come inside our Mad Campers rental

    We created a quick video tour to show you inside our Mad Camper rental so you can get a better feel for whether or not it’s a good fit for you. For more info on the specific model we rented, jump here.

    Campervan rental options from Mad Campers

    campervan rental in New Zealand 1 Mad Campers

    Mad Campers have 4 different campervan builds (more than when we rented in 2018!), ranging from a compact van designed for solo travelers to a high-roof camper that’s more luxurious.

    Important Note: The prices listed in this section are base rates only; extra fees may apply.

    Mad Adventurer

    Mad Adventurer (Mad Campers New Zealand)
    Image source: Mad Campers
    • sleeps 2, seats 4
    • most economical 2-berth option
      • summer (peak season): $175 NZD/day ($107 USD/day)
      • spring/fall (shoulder season): $161.41 NZD/day ($98 USD/day)
      • winter (low season): $170 NZD/day ($104 USD/day)
    • not self-contained
    • rooftop tent
    • compact and easy to drive
    • automatic transmission


    Mad1 (Mad Campers New Zealand)
    Image source: Mad Campers
    • sleeps 1, seats 2
    • budget-friendly
      • summer (peak season): $165 NZD/day ($101 USD/day)
      • spring/fall (shoulder season): $151.41 NZD/day ($92 USD/day)
      • winter (low season): $150 NZD/day ($91 USD/day)
    • designed for solo travelers
    • self-contained with a portable cassette toilet
    • drives like a minivan (in a good way)
    • automatic transmission


    Mad Campers New Zealand Review
    • sleeps 2, seats 2
    • budget-friendly
      • summer (peak season): $185 NZD/day ($113 USD/day)
      • spring/fall (shoulder season): $171.41 NZD/day ($104 USD/day)
      • winter (low season): $185 NZD/day ($113 USD/day)
    • self-contained with a portable cassette toilet
    • compact layout, but has everything you need
    • convertible bed
    • easy to drive
    • automatic transmission

    Mad Explorer

    Mad Explorer (Mad Campers New Zealand)
    Image source: Mad Campers
    • sleeps 2, seats 3
    • most luxurious, but still pretty affordable
      • summer (peak season): $477.44 NZD/day (automatic); $457.44 NZD/day (manual)
      • spring/fall (shoulder season): $356.56 NZD/day (automatic); $336.56 NZD/day (manual)
      • winter (low season): $450 NZD/day ($274 USD/day)
    • self-contained with a toilet and shower
    • roomier than Mad2
      • separate areas for sleeping and lounging, so you don’t need to convert the bed
      • only Mad Camper you can stand up in
    • automatic & manual transmission 

    Important Note: New Zealand is currently reviewing their Freedom Camping legislation, which may change the requirements for a self-contained vehicle. If you’re booking for December 2024 or later, check with Mad Campers to see if the Mad1 and Mad2 still qualify.

    Alternatively, if you know you’ll be freedom camping and you want to be sure you have a self-contained vehicle locked in, the Mad Explorer already meets the new standards.

    Our experience

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    We personally rented the Mad2 (in 2018, when Mad Campers only had 2 options – now they have 4!). Check out this video tour of our van, or read on for specs and insights from our own experience.


    Mad Campers New Zealand Mad2 kitchen

    Our rental included a small stove, a mini fridge (more on that in the cons section), a sink with running water, and some basic cookware and dishes. 

    As with most campervans of this size, our Mad Camper had a tailgate kitchen – meaning the kitchen is located at the back, so you pop the trunk and stand outside to cook.

    But what if it rains?

    Some campgrounds will have a communal kitchen area where you can cook under a roof if it’s raining. But we recommend getting the canopy add-on with the Mad Adventurer, Mad1, or Mad2 if you plan on cooking your own meals.

    Mad Campers New Zealand Mad2 kitchen canopy

    The canopy attaches to the back of the van, giving you some shelter from the elements while you’re cooking. It can also act as a “dressing room”, which is helpful if you have a low-roof van that you can’t stand up in.

    The only bummer is that the canopy costs an additional $10 NZD/day, which can add quite a bit to your overall cost.

    Wondering what to eat in New Zealand? Kiwi cuisine isn’t typically as well-known as, say, Thai, Japanese, or Mexican, but there are plenty of dishes worth trying! We’ve created a New Zealand food guide so you know exactly what to try when you dine out (and what to skip).


    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    The bench seat in the Mad2 converts into a bed, which was decently comfortable (though we’re spoiled with an amazing mattress in our campervan at home). 

    All Mad Campers include bedlinen with 2 pillows and a duvet. They also have fleece blankets you can rent for an additional $1.50 NZD per day.

    Insider Tip: When you pick up your campervan, be sure to confirm you have all the essentials before leaving the parking lot. We made this mistake in our Happy Camper rental in Iceland and ended up with only one pillow. Oops! Thankfully, we had packed our own camping pillows to have just in case.


    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Storage space is truthfully quite limited in the Mad2. The bedding was stored under the “couch” and there was a small space under the bench seat.

    The roof rack (included with the Mad2) is pretty crucial if you have extra luggage or bulkier items. But as you can imagine, a roof rack isn’t ideal for storing things you need to access often.


    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Our Mad2 campervan came with a 10L cassette toilet, a portable toilet that requires harsh chemicals and must be emptied frequently.

    Long story short, we didn’t even end up using the toilet in our van (we’ll explain why in the cons section).

    Rental process

    Camping Milford Sound New Zealand

    We found the rental process with Mad Campers to be smooth and easy from start to finish. The online booking process is super simple and we were able to communicate with staff prior to our trip for answers to our (many!) questions.

    We flew into Christchurch and Mad Campers picked us up at the airport. The no-frills depot was pretty much just a parking lot with an office for staff (keep in mind this was 2018 – I can’t speak to whether they’ve expanded their facilities, but I know the company has grown a lot since then).

    A Mad Campers member gave us a one-on-one tour of our campervan. This is key because the agent shows you exactly how everything works and you have a chance to ask questions that you might not necessarily think of until you’re actually in your van.

    Now, just to brief you, this was our first ever campervan rental (since then we’ve done it in Iceland, Scotland, and Ireland!). We had vanlife experience from a summer spent living in our very first campervan conversion, but the Mad Campers model was more robust than ours had been, so we had a lot to learn.

    Mad Campers made sure we felt completely comfortable and confident, even as green as we were at the time, before driving away in our van.

    On-the-road assistance

    South+Island+New+Zealand+Itinerary+Road+Trip+Campground+Snow Mad Campers

    Thankfully, we didn’t run into any issues on the road, so we didn’t need to contact Mad Campers for assistance.

    All their campervan rentals include 24 hour AA Roadside Assistance, and from the few reviews we’ve read where people needed to use it, Mad Campers is quick to respond and will do whatever it takes to get you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.

    Insider Tip: There are so many remote places in New Zealand that we highly recommend packing ​​portable jumper cables. This tiny device allows you to jump your vehicle without another car. And yes, you can fly with it!


    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Mad Campers offer three levels of coverage, compellingly named “Risk Taker”, “The Gambler”, and “You’re Good”… tell us how you really feel, Mad Campers! 

    Risk Taker insurance is automatically included in the daily rate of every Mad Campers rental. Whether or not you want more coverage than that is really a personal choice. 

    We recommend doing some research before your trip (start here!) and choosing the level of coverage that makes you most comfortable.

    Important Note: In addition to rental coverage, we never get on a plane without travel insurance. Our go-to company for medical coverage is usually Safety Wing.

    What about insurance through my credit card?

    The rental car insurance from credit card providers typically does not apply to campervans, RVs, or trucks. Be sure to read the fine print on your policy and verify whether your campervan rental is covered.

    Our (honest!) opinion about Mad Campers

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Overall, we truly had a great experience with Mad Campers and we would 100% recommend them for budget travelers. That said, just like any campervan rental, there is always room for improvement.

    In the next section, we’re sharing exactly what we loved and what we didn’t love about our rental, so you can determine if this will be a good fit for you.

    Things we loved about our Mad Campers rental

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Customer service

    The reviews speak for themselves, but we’ll say it anyway: Mad Campers have outstanding customer service. Their professionalism made us feel confident and secure in our van, while their fun vibes and enthusiasm amped up our excitement even more.

    Roof rack

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    This one is sort of a pro AND a con

    We loved that our rental included a roof rack with additional storage space – something that would usually be an add-on option for an extra fee with most rentals.

    However, we may not have needed the roof storage (or our “upstairs”, as we call it) if there had been more storage in the van itself. More on that in the cons section.

    Extras included

    While we’re on the subject of add-ons… 

    Mad Campers’ rentals come with a number of other items that many companies charge extra for. Bedding, towels, basic cookware, and dishes are all included in your daily rate.


    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    The kitchen in our 2-berth van was tiny, but super functional. We loved the built-in cookers and the slide-out drawer that also adds extra counter space. We also opted to add camp chairs and a table to our rental so we could eat and hang out outside.

    Another great feature is that the kitchen sink has an extendable hose faucet. This was perfect for washing dishes, as well as rinsing the sand off our feet after walks on the beach.

    Easy to drive and park

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    The model we chose (Mad2) drove very similarly to a regular minivan. There wasn’t even really a learning curve to driving it, and parking was simple. It was in good condition, and we really had no complaints about the vehicle itself.

    Privacy curtains

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Another pro/con.

    In our campervan at home, we are spoiled with magnetic blackout window covers that also help with insulation (they’re honestly amazing!). I will say the curtains in the Mad Camper were better than I anticipated. They did a good job of giving us privacy.

    That said, they didn’t do anything for insulation. And they weren’t quite blackout curtains, so we’d recommend bringing an eye mask. (We love this one!)

    Still in the early planning stages? Read up on the best time to visit New Zealand (and when we would avoid visiting).

    Things we didn’t love about our Mad Camper

    Piha Beach near Auckland New Zealand Mad Campers

    We’ll be honest and say that we are kind of picky about campervans, since we’ve custom-built two of our own to be just the way we want them. So we are tough critics. 

    Here are some of the (minor) things that weren’t ideal in our Mad Campers rental:

    Limited storage

    Mad Campers New Zealand Mad2

    Probably our biggest gripe with the Mad2 is that there wasn’t much storage space, so we had to get pretty creative about where we kept our stuff.

    Underneath the “couch” is where the bedding was stored, so we weren’t able to fit any of our belongings in there. There was a small storage space under the bench seat, where we had all our clothes organized in packing cubes (a must-have for any type of travel!).

    Fortunately, the rental fee for this model includes a roof rack with additional storage where we kept our extra luggage, canopy, and portable toilet. But as you can imagine, a roof rack isn’t ideal for storing things you need to access often.

    If you feel like you need more storage in your rental, go with the Mad Explorer model instead.

    Can’t stand up inside

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    We’ve rented a couple of standard-roof vans in our time, and our first self-built van (which we lived in for 3 months) also had a low roof. And it wasn’t that bad. Choosing a low-roof vehicle can be a great way to save money, as high-roof rentals usually cost more.

    But 2 high-roof van conversions and 2 high-roof rentals later, we’ve gotten used to being able to stand up in our campervans. Plus, we now travel with a toddler in tow, so having a high roof is pretty important to us.

    Cassette toilet

    Mad Campers New Zealand Review

    Let me preface this by saying again that we are spoiled with our campervan at home, which has a dedicated bathroom with a (very expensive) composting toilet and a shower. And the convenience of having a decent bathroom on board is even more essential now that we have our daughter with us.

    However, when we rented our Mad Camper in New Zealand, we were on a tight budget and our only prior experience was a 3-month trip in our first self-built van, which had no toilet at all. 

    And given the choice between no toilet and a cassette toilet, we might just lean toward no toilet.

    Cassette toilets require harsh chemicals, which we don’t love. They also need to be emptied quite frequently.

    We found there wasn’t much space for the toilet inside the Mad2. The way it was laid out meant we would have had to keep stepping over it to get to the bed, which is not ideal. So we decided to put it in our roof rack where we had some extra space.

    As you can imagine, getting it out of the roof rack when we needed to “go” just wasn’t very practical. And on top of that, the process for cleaning it out sounded like a lot of work. Gross work.

    It was nice to have and know we’d be able to camp in places where there were no toilet facilities. But as it turned out, we were traveling with a friend whose van was not self-contained (aka did not have a toilet or gray water tank), so we couldn’t camp in those spots anyway. Instead, we always found toilets when we needed them and made a point of camping near facilities.

    So essentially, we drove around the country for 5 weeks carrying a toilet that we never used…

    Fridge keeps things cool, not cold

    Mad Campers New Zealand Mad2 fridge

    The mini fridge in the Mad2 didn’t work as well as others we’ve seen in different campervan rentals. Though it kept things cool, it didn’t really make them cold.

    Budget tips for Mad Campers

    New Zealand campsites Mad Campers

    If you’re traveling to New Zealand on a budget, then we have some good news for you. Not only is Mad Campers already a great budget option, but there are also a few simple things you can do to save even more on your campervan rental!

    Sign up for 5% off

    Mad Campers Special!

    Since we traveled with Mad Campers throughout New Zealand, we built a pretty good relationship with them. They are offering all of our readers 5% off!

    Enter your email below and we’ll send the 5% off discount code straight into your inbox!

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Complete the Mad Challenge

      Mad Challenge Mad Campers New Zealand
      Check out Ben’s attempt at the #MadChallengeNZ

      If you rent with Mad Campers, be sure to take part in their “Mad Challenge”.

      This is basically a scavenger hunt where you’ll need to take pictures doing some fun Kiwi activities – like swimming at a waterfall and eating fish ‘n chips on the beach – while wearing your free Mad Campers t-shirt that you’ll receive upon arrival.

      When you complete the challenge by posting these shots on your Instagram with the hashtags #MadCampersNZ #MadChallengenz, you’ll get a 5% refund on your rental cost. That can add up to be a good chunk of change!

      Not to mention, it’s FUN!

      Make it a longer trip

      Campervan+Rental+New+Zealand+Looking+Out+the+Campervan Mad Campers

      Twist your rubber arm, right? Who needs convincing to spend more time in New Zealand?!?

      Mad Campers often run promotions where they offer special rates to customers who book a longer rental. Check their website to see what deals they have on now.

      Check out their partnerships

      New Zealand is a world-renowned destination for adventure tourism, and chances are you may have some adrenaline-pumping activities planned. 

      Mad Campers is partnered with a number of tour companies across the country to offer special rates for things like skydiving, white water rafting, and more. Reach out to their team to get hooked up!

      Camping in New Zealand

      Wondering what camping is like in New Zealand? Watch our Holiday Park tour above, or check out some of our New Zealand camping resources below.

      Mad Campers alternatives

      Campervan rentals New Zealand

      If you’re thinking that Mad Campers may not be the best choice for you (or the model you want is not available for your dates), the good news is, there are a few alternative campervan rental options.

      We’ve broken down all of our top recommendations (from budget to luxury) in our New Zealand campervan guide.

      As long as you do your research, read through reviews, and have realistic expectations, we think you’ll find a company that you are truly happy with.

      Planning a trip to New Zealand?

      We have TONS of resources on travel in New Zealand and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning travel questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

      Or, let us do the planning for you!

      Be sure to download our complete packing list for New Zealand! It’s full of good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your campervan trip in New Zealand. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?


      Love the idea of campervan trips around the world? 

      Us too (hence why we keep booking campervan trips!).

      Here are some more ideas for you to bookmark for future travels:

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      We want to hear from you!

      Are you thinking about renting with Mad Campers in New Zealand? Still unsure whether this company is a good fit for you? Leave your questions in the comment section and we will do our best to get back to you.

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