Motorhome Hire in New Zealand – Everything you need to know
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Renting your own motorhome while traveling one of the most beautiful countries on the earth is nothing short of amazing. It’s no wonder that hiring a motorhome in New Zealand is considered one of the best ways to travel the country.
Dan and I personally loved our road trip around NZ. In fact, we traveled New Zealand for an entire year and in that time, we enjoyed the freedom that came with having our motorhome (and our little “home” being right there with us no matter where we went!)
Without a doubt, we think that renting a motorhome or campervan in NZ is the best kind of holiday to have!
But, the truth is that there is a lot you need to know about motorhome hire in NZ before hitting the road.
You need to make sure you hire the right style of motorhome, have enough space for everything you need, be sure you’ve budgeted for hidden costs, know where you are going and what the roads will be like, and of course, what motorhome hire company to trust with your once in a lifetime trip!
Well, as I said, we’ve traveled NZ a lot. We also know a lot about the rental companies (thanks to our professions as travel writers) and have family members who rent a motorhome in NZ every year. So in this blog, we’re going to let you in on what we know about motorhome hire in New Zealand – we hope to help you get ready for your own epic road trip!
What should I look for in a New Zealand motorhome rental?
Let’s face it, not all motorhome rentals in NZ are created equal. Sure, from the outside a lot of them look the same.
But they aren’t.
There are some things you really need to look into and think about before you rent a motorhome in NZ. Here are some questions you should ask yourself and then think about when choose your own motorhome to hire:
How many people am I traveling with and how much space do we need?
Motorhomes all advertise the number of “berths” they have. This is the number of people who can live and travel in the campervan.
You may be thinking, well we can just squish up and put my family of 6 in a 5-berth motorhome. But, the catch is berth also refers to the number of seat belts in the motorhome. Without them, it’s illegal to have another person in the motorhome while it’s moving!
And let’s be clear, just because a motorhome is a “6-berth” doesn’t mean it comfortably has enough space for 6 people. I urge you to really take a look at the floor plan of a motorhome you are thinking of hiring.
How many beds need to be folded up/down and made up each night? Sometimes this can be a pain to do. Also, when the beds are all made is there any other room in the motorhome?
How many single/double beds are there? Do you have people that need their own beds or can the kids get along sleeping next to each other? How large are the two-person beds? Are they a double size or a queen? Is this important to you?
Ask yourself these questions as not thinking about these things before making a decision could make your trip much less enjoyable in terms of comfort in your living/sleeping space.
How much storage is there in your motorhome?
Some motorhome rental companies have really thought about everything when designing their motorhomes, and some, well, haven’t.
In terms of actual livability, there needs to be storage! Where are you going to put your clothes, toiletries, food? Some motorhome have lots of space for these things so you want choose one of those motorhomes! The last thing you want is having suitcases and bags everywhere all the time because you have nowhere to unpack and store things.
If you’re worried you can always ask the rental company before you commit to that specific vehicle. They can always recommend something else if they think you simply won’t have the room.
How comfortable is the living space?
You want a motorhome that is comfortable to be in. If it is raining you will likely be in your motorhome hanging out. Is there room to play cards at the table? Do you have a TV?
You also want comfort for sleeping. A good mattress, nice blankets and pillows, as well as dark curtains – these are all small things that can really make a difference when it comes to your overall comfort.
So if your a picky sleeper its best to go with a premium campervan. These have better features and in better quality – even though they look the same!
What does the motorhome come with?
This is important not only when choosing your motorhome, but also when deciding what to pack! Some motorhomes come with all of the extras you could imagine, while others don’t come with much.
Things like bikes, outdoor tables and chairs, and even a GPS to safely navigate the roads. These all seem like simple items but they aren’t always included in your New Zealand motorhome hire.
To avoid confusion, be sure to get a list of all inclusions for the motorhome you are looking to rent. Extras are usually hired at a day rate and can add up fast!
Keep reading below for more info on inclusions you really should have for your NZ road trip and which company we personally recommend that includes everything!
What motorhome rental company should I choose in New Zealand?
In all honesty, most motorhome rental companies in New Zealand are pretty good companies. The standard is high in New Zealand and the market is competitive, so you won’t likely end up in a complete dump.
That being said, there are a few things to look for in a rental company. These things set a subpar company apart from an extraordinary company and will affect how much you spend and how enjoyable your road trip is!
Check for the following before choosing your motorhome rental company:
Inclusions essentially mean what your motorhome comes with. Some companies fully deck-out their motorhomes with everything you could possibly need to make your trip awesome, and some provide the bare minimum.
The “bare minimum” inclusions are things like bedding, cookware, utensils, toilet paper, and basic cleaning supplies. It is fair to assume your motorhome will come with these things.
However, some extras you may want in your motorhome include a TV (with satellite and DVD player), a GPS, towels, baby seats, a heater in the winter, games and books, outdoor table and chairs, awning, as well as mountain bikes and bike racks. Some companies also offer free roadside assistance, trip planning, and support.
These extra inclusions are great to have but sometimes don’t come included in the basic motorhome rental rate, which brings me to my next point…
If you want all of the bells and whistles sometimes you have to pay for them. Sometimes the extra luxury items I listed above come at a cost.
In addition, other extra fees some companies charge include:
- Having a different drop-off location than the pick-up location
- Airport pick-ups and drop-offs.
- Cleaning fees
- Booking fees
- Kilometers Driven
- Toll Roads
You need to make sure you know what you’re getting with your motorhome rental in NZ and what extra costs you should expect. Read the fine print OR just book with a company that includes everything (like the one we are about to mention below!)
This one is tricky, but also important. You should rent from a company that genuinely cares about your trip and will go above and beyond to help in any way possible.
It is hard to know beforehand how great a company’s customer service is. I recommend paying attention to how helpful they are during the booking process, do you respond to your emails quickly? Do they answer all of your questions completely?
You can also go to the website Rankers NZ and check reviews on motorhome rental companies. This is a great tool to use when researching rental companies.
Based on our personal experience smaller companies generally offer better customer service. The experience is more personal and the staff are usually better trained and helpful!
So…what company is the BEST?!?!
Alright, alright – it’s time to cut to the chase.
We highly recommend hiring a motorhome from the company Kiwi Motorhomes!
Why? Well, we have a few reasons that really make this company stand out to us above the rest:
- Small, family-run company with incredible customer service
- Tons of included luxury items
- 24/7 on-road assistance and support
- Solar power
- No kilometer charges, booking or cleaning fees
- Hot showers!
- Satellite TV
- Free airport pick-up/drop-offs
- A range of motorhome layouts and sizes to choose from
- Amazing reviews and tons of happy previous renters
On top of all that, they also include bike racks, 2 x mountain bikes (subject to availability), GPS, children’s car & booster seats, kids attachable bike seats, Kiwi Motorhomes welcome pack including bottle of NZ premium wine, outdoor camp table & chairs, DVD’s, games & books, basic kitchen commodities, as well as all linen included in the daily motorhome rental rate!
But don’t just take our word for it, check out their AMAZING reviews on Rankers NZ!
We love Kiwi Motorhomes so much that we’ve organized an exclusive 5% off deal for our readers! If you book with Kiwi Motorhomes be sure to give them the referral code DEST5 and you will get a 5% discount off your rental!
Other motorhome hire companies in New Zealand
Just because we love Kiwi Motorhomes, doesn’t mean they are your only option. You should do a bit of research and choose the best company for YOU!
Motorhome Republic is a search engine that makes comparing motorhomes and campervans in New Zealand easy. You can see layouts, prices, and features all in one place!
Some other popular motorhome hire companies to keep an eye out for include:
Maui is one of the largest motorhome rental companies in NZ offering a variety of styles for all budgets.
Britz is a highly recognizable company in New Zealand for motorhomes. They also offer larger campervans for the budget-conscious traveler.
Jucy is an international company who has a variety of rental vehicles available in NZ. They also own hostels, restaurants, and operate tours in which you can score a discount if you book with them.
Apollo is another larger company in NZ. They often have specials and discounts you can get on particular styles of motorhomes. Although basic, their motorhomes are affordable.
These guys are most appealing to budget travelers. There most common style of rental vehicle isn’t actually a motorhome, but rather a high-roof campervan.
Wendekreisen offers higher quality motorhomes and campers that have a few of the similar inclusions Kiwi Motorhomes does.
Another option is to rent from a person (not a company!) The company Outdoorsy connects private motorhome owners with people interested in renting! It is like AirBnb but with motorhomes instead of hotels, just check it out!
Where can I camp in my motorhome?
All motorhomes in New Zealand will be “self-contained certified.” In short, this means you have a bathroom, grey water tank, and the ability to camp in the wilderness without producing any waste or littering. It is a way New Zealand’s protects its natural environment.
What does this have to do with camping?
Well, vehicles that are self-contained certified are able to camp wherever they want (in theory.) In recent years there have been lots of rules developed around freedom camping which limits where you can spend the night in your motorhome.
Restrictions and rules change depending on the local council. So, in each new area you go, there are different rules around freedom camping. The easiest way to know where you can and can’t park for the night is to stop at the local visitor center. Staff there will be able to tell you exactly where you can and can’t camp nearby for free!
Lots of travelers also use the apps Campermate or WikiCamps. These apps show where you can find freedom camping places as well as low-budget campgrounds.
Of course, there are also plenty of holiday parks (campgrounds with nice facilities) located all around the country. Some of them are so nice they even have a pool! They do, however, come at a cost of usually $35-55 NZD per night.
What’s it like driving a motorhome in NZ?
I’m not going to lie, driving a motorhome in New Zealand (like anywhere in the world) takes a little bit of patience. Because motorhomes are larger than normal cars you need to be especially careful when parking, driving in cities or driving on windy roads.
With that said, if you are careful you shouldn’t have a problem!
A couple notes about driving on New Zealand roads
- In New Zealand, you drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is one the right side of the vehicle.
- You cannot turn left on a red light after coming to a complete stop (like you can with right turns in the USA and Canada.)
- Speed limits are strongly enforced. You can get a speeding ticket for going as little as 4km/h over the posted speed limit and on some holidays from as little as 1km/h.
- Snow chains are sometimes required during the winter on particular roads.
- Some bridges are often one lane only. This means you need to watch for oncoming traffic and alternate.
- There are many one-lane highways (in the South Island particularly.) This means you need to overtake slower vehicles using the oncoming traffic lane. Use caution and never pass on blind corners!
Where should I start and end my motorhome road trip?
One thing to note is some companies actually offer discounts if you pick up in Christchurch and drop off in Auckland. This is because the majority of people start in Auckland but many travelers want to end in Christchurch, so essentially they’ll give a discount because it saves them transporting the motorhomes back.
Of course, where you choose to start and end your road trip is totally up to you and what exactly you want to see and how much time you have!
Check out the blog we wrote that outlines 10 different NZ road trip itineraries to suit different lengths of trips.
Why Hire a Motorhome in New Zealand?
If you still haven’t decided that hiring a motorhome in NZ is the way to go, let me help you understand why I personally think it is the BEST way to travel…
Easy to get around and explore
In a motorhome, you have complete freedom to explore as you choose! You aren’t limited by time restraints (like on a guided tour), or by bus and train routes. Go wherever you want whenever you want. It makes exploring New Zealand easy!
It is safe
New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world! If you ever planned on doing a motorhome road trip New Zealand is the place to do so!
Save money on accommodation
When you have a motorhome you can freedom camp (camp for free!) This will allow you to save money not having to pay for a hotel every single night – score!
Getting out in nature
One of the best things about New Zealand is how stunningly beautiful it is. When you can camp every night and explore wherever you want you’ll be able to spend more time in nature (versus staying in hotels in the city all of the time.) Some of the best days I had in New Zealand were camping in the middle of nowhere watching the sunset with a glass of wine in hand. Simply magic!
And there you have it, our best tips and guidelines for hiring a motorhome in New Zealand! Of course, if you have any questions please feel free to comment below or send us a message – we’d be more than happy to help!
Happy road tripping!
We love NZ and we are passionate about helping others have the best time ever on their visit! Check out some of our other most popular Nz blogs:
- Plan the BEST South Island Road Trip
- Milford Sound Boat Cruise: What to Book and Why
- Things to do in Mount Cook National Park
- Where to Stay in Queenstown
- The Pouakai Hut Hike – the best day hike in NZ
December 21, 2020