Sales & Marketing Manager
If you’re hiring a campervan to travel around New Zealand, the last thing you want is to be stopped in your tracks by something you’ve overlooked by accident. Don’t get us wrong — we love carefree, easy-going adventures in the outdoors. But not preparing yourself or doing enough research before you head off can leave you stuck with a nasty surprise.
To make life a little easier, we’ve popped together this list of 15 things to check out before you rent a campervan in New Zealand. Use this guide to choose the best vehicle, the best passengers, and the best campervan hire company for your needs.
Let’s get started!
1. Check the number of passengers you can fit
When choosing a campervan, keep an eye out for the term ‘berth’. This is how many people can legally travel/sleep in the campervan — so if it says ‘2-berth’, only 2 people can be seated in this vehicle.
In New Zealand, there are very strict road rules around wearing seatbelts. There is absolutely no way you can sit a third passenger in the back of a 2-berth van, including on a make-shift seat or on the floor.
2. What kind of transmission does the campervan have?
Take it from us, the last thing you want is to arrive at the depot to collect you vehicle only to find you don’t know how to drive it. Most campervans have an automatic transmission — but there are exceptions, so watch out.
If you’re used to driving a manual, it’s easy as cake to switch to an automatic. However, if you’re used to driving an automatic and you book a manual by mistake, well… you’re gonna have a bad time.
3. Check if your license is valid in New Zealand
If you’re an overseas traveller from a non-English speaking country, you’ll need to show an international driving license plus your primary driver’s license when you pick up your campervan. If you need a last-minute international driver’s license, there are plenty of official translation services in New Zealand that can help you out. Believe us though, it’ll be way less stressful if you get it sorted out beforehand.
4. Keep an eye out for age restrictions
Most campervan rental companies in New Zealand require hirers to be over 21 years old. Even those who allow young drivers sometimes slap them with a hefty ‘young drivers fee’. At Travellers Autobarn, we’ll happily rent a vehicle to anyone over the age of 18 with no young driver fees or exclusions on which vehicles you can or cannot rent.
5. Make sure there’s enough room for the kids
If you’re travelling with young children, you’ll need to be careful to only rent a vehicle which can legally seat them. Many campervans only have seats in the driver’s cabin, and children under a certain age aren’t allowed to travel in them. Keep in mind, the laws in New Zealand are extremely strict and may be very different to the laws in your home country.
If any child travelling with you is 4 year or older, you’ll probably be fine. However, if your child is under 4 years old (and especially if they’re under 6 months old), your choices will be very limited! At Travellers Autobarn, our Hi5 Campervan has 3 front seats and 2 back seats — so you can fit a baby seat for children as young as 6 months old.
6. Check the van’s model year
One question you’ll have to ask yourself is how much the age of the van matters to you. Are you looking for a brand-new campervan, or are you okay with a van that has few extra kilometres if it means saving a lot of money?
If you’re undecided, we recommend you think about hiring a used campervan with a new interior fitting — it’ll save you tonnes of money with very little compromise where it matters. Our Chubby, Kuga & Hi5 Campervans are just that: older vans that we’ve bought and built the interior of ourselves, so the kitchen and bedding fit-outs are guaranteed to be no older than three years.
7. Make sure you choose the right size van
Before you decide on a vehicle, make sure you check out the size specs. Have a look at pictures of the van with people sitting in it or standing around it to get a rough idea of its relative size. It might also help to compare the measurements of the van to a vehicle that you’re familiar with.
Once you’ve got an idea of the size of the van, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions, like:
- How much room will I need?
- Am I comfortable with driving it?
- Can I stand up inside?
- Does it fit in underground car parks?
- Does it have enough storage space for my luggage?
8. Consider the equipment and fit-out you’ll need
If you’re comparing campervans, you’ll need to take a good hard look at your personal needs. You should spend some time trying to work out what you can and can’t live without. Be honest with yourself.
Many campervans have fridges, built-in gas burners, and microwaves on board which you might find very useful for one of your first trips in a van. These are things many people think they can go without, but it might be tougher to go without a fridge or proper cooking equipment than you think. For instance, some campervans are fitted out with just a cooler boxes and portable gas cookers. If you can roll with it, it might be enough — if you’re used to more luxuries, it might be a bit of an adjustment.
For the larger campervans on offer, you’ll typically find built-in showers and toilets. However, generally speaking, you might not even need these as many campgrounds in New Zealand have great facilities.
9. Check if you’ll need a ‘Self-contained Camper’
New Zealand is very big on self-contained campers, but what does that even mean?