A road trip in a campervan is a great way to travel to New Zealand. It offers you the utmost freedom and flexibility, and allows you to see spectacular sights you might not otherwise see if you travelled by bus or train. But before you head off to live life on the road, there are a few things you should be aware of. Hiring a campervan is a big commitment, as it will become your transport and home for however many days you are travelling. In this post, we break down the most important aspects for first-time campervan renters in New Zealand.
In the research stage of booking your campervan, your biggest decision will be which company you will hire with. There are many campervan rental companies in New Zealand, each offering different vehicles and prices. The best way of doing any research before you travel is hearing what others have experienced in the past. For this reason, we suggest you first check out some customer reviews on a few companies you might consider. When deciding on a company, take into account:
Age restrictions – many companies will only rent out to over 21-year-olds. Travellers Autobarn rents to those from the age of 18.
Excess reduction/bond/liability aspects
Depot opening hours
Range of vehicles
When you narrow down a few companies you might consider, next take into account the vehicle you would like to book. Ask yourself the following questions when it comes to the features the vehicle might have:
Number of beds/seats
Age and wear and tear on the vehicle
Automatic or manual transition if this is important to you
Living equipment – Linen and bedding, kitchen equipment, camp table and chairs
Does it come with a self-contained certificate? (If you wish to freedom camp this is essential)
You need not worry about packing a lot when renting a campervan in New Zealand. This is because most campervans already come with a few camping essentials, such as bedding, tea towels, pots, plates, cutlery, and even towels. However, you may want to ask about this ahead because not all campervan rental companies provide this.
In general, the inclusion of campervans for rent in New Zealand are as follows:
24-hour roadside assistance
Bed and bedding
Heaters and lamps
240V mains power cable
Snow chains for winter
Access to free campsites
Heaps of storage space
Again, it is worth noting that the inclusions may vary depending on the provider. To avoid frustrations and disappointments, confirm this with your choice of campervan rental company.
Once you have made your decision and booked your campervan, it’s time to get excited and ready for the adventure to begin! Upon picking up the vehicle, you will probably be chomping at the bit to hit the road, but it’s important to take your time to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. Carefully clarify the terms and conditions with the staff at the branch
Carefully read and clarify the terms and conditions with the staff at the branch. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions if you have any doubts. Some points you might like to double check with companies include insurance cover, details of vehicle return, and whether or not you might want any optional extras for your trip. Watch any instructional videos they show you, as this can be very helpful should you face any unforeseen accidents, breakdowns, or confusion about the use of the vehicle.
Next, you should carefully inspect the vehicle condition, and note down any damage you might see on the vehicle. Take photos of everything, and clarify it with staff at the branch. You can never be too careful so take the extra few minutes to give you that peace of mind.
Lastly, ask the staff for some recommendations on where to visit, or any other interesting tips they might have! They will always be more than happy to assist and of course, there is no better advice than a local’s!
If you aren’t used to driving a larger vehicle, you might have a few concerns about how it will feel to drive a campervan. In reality, driving a campervan does not feel a whole lot different than driving a normal car. Of course, it is a larger, heavier vehicle, so you will need to take that into consideration when driving. The most important things to consider when driving a campervan are:
Size – being aware of the length and height of the vehicle is crucial. It might be easy to forget you are driving a high-top vehicle, and drive into a low-ceiling car park or fast food drive-through. This will end in disaster!
Weight – as campervans are considerably heavier than regular vehicles, you should keep in mind that they might take a little longer to slow down and come to a complete stop.
Speed – you will not be able to drive as fast as smaller vehicles on the road. For that reason, it is a good habit to stick to the left and let them overtake if its safe.
Off-road – do not attempt to take a campervan off road. Most campervans are 2WD, and they do not have the capability to drive on very bumpy roads or sand. To avoid causing damage and large expenses to repair the vehicle, always stick to sealed roads.
After your journey is over and it’s time to (sadly) return your campervan, follow these tips to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible. Return the campervan how you received it. If it was stated in your terms and conditions to return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel and full gas bottle, make sure you stop somewhere nearby to fill up before returning. Make the effort to leave the vehicle as clean and tidy as possible. Of course, you wouldn’t be expected to have it sparkling-spotless clean, but remove any dirt and rubbish from outside-in.
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.