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If you’re thinking about renting a campervan in Queenstown, New Zealand then this blog will help prepare you with 10 things to know before you do so!
So, you want to hire a campervan in Queenstown? That’s great, and you’re sure to have an amazing adventure!
But before you make a booking, there are a few things you should know about campervan rental in Queenstown first…
Having lived in Queenstown with my own campervan as well as having visited as a traveler in a rental campervan, I’ve discovered a few things interesting things to know about Queenstown campervan hire. Some of these tips will save you money and some will just help you know what to expect and how to properly prepare!
Here are 10 things that I think you should know about Queenstown campervan rental!
1. Only 5 campervan companies have depots in Queenstown
This is important to know before you decide on a campervan to hire in Queenstown because it could save you a lot of money!
Companies that don’t have an actual depot in Queenstown will still rent you a campervan, but you will get charged a very costly fee (a few hundred dollars or more!) So if you’re renting a campervan in Queenstown, you will likely have to choose between the 5 companies who have actual depots there.
These 5 campervan rental companies in Queenstown are:
Jucy: Jucy is the best option for those on a budget who want the most basic campervan at the best price. They have great reviews and even though cheaper, the campervans are more than sufficient for your NZ road trip itinerary!
Wicked Campers: Wicked is an international brand recognized for their painted campervans. They are another backpacker budget option, but in all honesty, their vans are priced similarly to Jucy and in my opinion, are not as nice.
Mighty: Mighty is a good mid-range option for those who want a comfortable campervan without spending a fortune. They aren’t overly flashy but are clean modest campervans that come in larger models. Mighty reviews are also very good!
Britz: Britz offers a large range of campervans and motorhomes. They have everything from high-roof campervans to 6 berth motorhomes. Although a little pricier, their campervans even have proper bathrooms with a fixed toilet!
Maui: Maui is your best option if you want to hire a really nice motorhome or campervan in Queenstown. They have a huge fleet with sizes and layouts to suit everyone. Expect spacious campervans that come with all of the bells and whistles!
*Hot tip: Motorhome Republic is a seach engine used commonly in New Zealand for booking camervans. You can browse reviews, pictures, and of course, compare prices!
2. Freedom camping isn’t as easy as you think
You’ve probably heard the term “freedom camping” in New Zealand. It essentially means sleeping in your campervan for free in public areas.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when comes to your Queenstown campervan, you might have a hard time freedom camping. Queenstown is very strict on freedom camping rules and you cannot just park and sleep anywhere within the town limits.
This doesn’t mean you won’t find somewhere outside of town though. In fact, Dan and I lived in our campervan around Queenstown for a week and spent most of our time camped on the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy (however this is no longer allowed and freedom camping rules are stricter than ever!)
Just be aware, you can’t camp anywhere you’d like and if you try, you’re pretty much guaranteed to wake up to a hefty $200 fine that your rental company will ensure you pay.
*Important: So you don’t have any problems, check out this detailed map of where you can and can’t freedom camp in Queenstown in your campervan. This map was once very easy to find but the Queenstown council has recently done a great job at hiding on their website (pushing visitors towards paid campsites.)
3. But, you can camp at these stunning places…
So if the whole freedom camping in Queenstown thing sounds like a bit too difficult, consider staying at one of the paid campsites in and around Queenstown. They are much cheaper than staying in a hotel in Queenstown and often just as comfortable!
Here are some great campsites in and around Queenstown:
Twelve Mile Delta: This is a DOC run campsite which means it is only $15 NZD per person per night. It is located 12 kilometers from Queenstown (on the road towards Glenorchy) and is right on the lake. There are also awesome hiking trails nearby including the Mout Crichton Loop Track. Just be aware, there are only pit toilets (outhouses), no power, and no showers. Camping fees must be paid in cash on arrival.
Moke Lake: Moke Lake Campsite is another DOC campsite that charges $15 NZD per person per night. Here, you can hike the Moke Lake Loop Track or even try and scramble up to the Moke Lake viewpoint. Like the Twelve Mile Delta campsite, it only has very basic facilities.
Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park: This holiday park is in the perfect location only a couple of hundred meters from the center of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Although a little bit pricey at around $50 a night for a powered site, you can park your campervan here and explore Queenstown all day without needing to find parking (keep reading for more about Queenstown’s parking nightmare.) They also have communal spaces including a kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms with hot showers.
Top 10 Holiday Park: I really like this holiday park and have stayed here a couple of times. It is actually located in Arthur’s Point about a 10-minute drive from Queenstown, but they offer free shuttles to and from town. The facilities here are also really nice and comfortable include hot showers, laundry, and large communal areas. If you want to go skiing, this holiday park is located right at the base of Coronet Peak.
4. Parking in Queenstown can be a nightmare
During peak seasons (June to September and December to March) Queenstown can be very busy and it can be impossible to find parking (paid or free) around Queenstown town center in your rental campervan.
If you’re renting a campervan in Queenstown you need to be prepared that you may not find parking around town when you want to visit. Instead, you might have to park in Fernhill or Frankton (neighborhoods nearby) and then catch the public bus (find the bus routes here).
My best advice to get into town early to find parking. There is free all-day parking along the Esplanade near St Omers Park as well as along a couple of the residential streets near here.
Otherwise, there is hourly pay and display parking lining the streets of Queenstown center. Motorhomes or larges campervans are not permitted to park here though and much used the designated park parking lot on Boundary Street ($1 per hour from 8 am to 6 pm.)
5. Your campervan can take you places you wouldn’t otherwise see
Okay, you may already know that Queenstown is beautiful. But I think it’s important to know that someone the most stunning places can only be reached by driving yourself!
With the freedom of your Queenstown campervan, you’ll be able to explore freely! And let me tell you, there are some magic spots that you can check out with your own wheels.
Be sure to drive to Moke Lake and hike to the viewpoint. You can also camp here overnight in your rental campervan for a small fee. The stars on a clear night are nothing short of breathtaking!
Other amazing places you can visit include Lake Hayes, Arrowtown, wineries near Queenstown, Glenorchy (and the Glenorchy animal farm, the Routeburn Track for a day hike, and of course, the amazing drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound!
Most of the places I listed can be visited on an organized tour in Queenstown, but this will cost you a lot more than just visiting on your own. Plus, exploring on your own is a hell of a lot more fun!
6. You might not be allowed to drive wherever you want
So that “freedom” I was talking about, well, it is a little bit limited.
Depending on the company you hire your campervan from in Queenstown and the type of insurance you buy, you may not be allowed to drive on gravel roads.
While this isn’t a huge issue, it is something to ask your campervan rental company so you know what you’re covered for and where you can go.
Oftentimes, rental campervans aren’t allowed to drive up to the ski fields, which is important to know if you ‘re going to be spending winter in Queenstown and plan on hitting the slopes a lot!
7. Driving on Queenstown’s roads is a challenge
Sure, Queenstown is a small town, but there are a lot of car accidents. Between the overcrowded sidewalks and tons of inexperienced tourists driving on the roads, you need to be extra careful when driving your rental campervan in Queenstown.
Take it slow, obey all signs, yield to pedestrians (who often cross the street without looking), and be patient. If you do these things, you should be perfectly fine!
8. Not all campervans are created equal
Once you’ve decided on a couple of Queenstown campervan rental companies you’d be willing to hire from, you need to decide on a style of campervan to rent. This is super important because campervans come with a variety of features and they are all designed very differently.
Things all self-contained certified campervans (that allow you to freedom camp) should have are:
- A sink with a freshwater and grey water tank
- A bed (normally a double)
- A toilet (generally a portable chemical toilet only to be used in emergencies)
- A gas cooker and basic dishes
Extra features to look out for include:
- An electric tap (as opposed to a pump)
- An outdoor shower
- A refrigerator
- A second battery for charging devices
- Indoor and/or outdoor lights
- A fan or heater
- Fold-out chairs and table to set up outside
- An awning
You’ll also want to carefully select your layout of campervan. For example, if you want to be able to stand up in your campervan you’ll need to choose a campervan rental with a high roof. On Motorhome Republic you can actually see the exact layout of all of the campervans available for hire in Queenstown which I find quite handy!
9. Queenstown is a great place to start or end a road trip
Queenstown is really in the thick of it all in terms of the best destinations on the South Island. From Queenstown, you can easily explore lots of top attractions like Wanaka, the West Coast, Milford Sound, Mount Cook, and more! This means that no matter if you have a week or several months, you can easily start and end your New Zealand road trip in Queenstown.
It also makes sense to both start and end your road trip in Queenstown. Campervan rental companies charge a very expensive relocation fee. This fee is charged if you drop you campervan off in a different place than you originally picked it up from.
For example, you land in Queenstown and pick up your hired campervan there. Then, you road trip around the South Island and fly out of Christchurch where you drop off your campervan. You will often be charged a couple of hundred dollars as a “relocation fee” for this.
So, if you’re tight on a budget, consider planning your road trip to both start and end in Queenstown
*Tip: Also if you’re on a budget, be sure to read our blog about how to score a cheap campervan rental in New Zeland. It has tons of tips and tricks for snagging a great deal!
10. You might not need a campervan in Queenstown the whole time
Queenstown is a town of walking. The town center is small and there is tons to do and see there. Not to mention, there is a big drinking culture in Queenstown so you’ll likely want to have a few locally–made wines or craft beers too, and therefore you won’t be driving anywhere.
Since campervan hire in Queenstown, and New Zealand in general, can be pricey, you should think about whether you need your campervan straight away when you arrive.
If it were me, I would fly into Queenstown and book a hostel or hotel in the town center for a couple of days without the campervan. Then after I finished enjoying the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, I would hire a campervan and explore nearby (and camp!)
Not to mention, if you’re coming off a long flight it might not be wise to get behind the wheel straight away anyways. Take a day or two off to relax and recover from any jetlag.
Before you go…
Thanks for reading our blog and I hope it has given you some insight into renting a campervan in Queenstown! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!
In the meantime, happy travels in New Zealand and be sure to check out our other Queenstown and New Zealand blogs. We’ve written tons of informative guides including the articles below that you might find useful:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars many times. World Nomads is a great company to use if you are an adventure traveler like us!