Renting a car and campervan in New Zealand in 2024 – Everything you need to know.

The comprehensive guide to hiring a car and campervan in New Zealand

As the ultimate road-tripping country, New Zealand has a huge amount of transportation options for those looking to roam its roads including bus, train, plane, car, or campervan. In our opinion there is no better way to travel New Zealand than in a car or campervan.

The country's stunning landscapes and winding backroads make a road trip a quintessential Kiwi experience and travelling by car or camper gives you the ultimate freedom. Drive where you want, when you want and stop whenever you feel like it. If you hire a self-contained campervan you can even stop and sleep in freedom campsites all over the country, waking up in the middle of the New Zealand wilderness.

For travellers unfamiliar with the local rental market, booking a car or campervan can raise some key questions. Should you book in advance or on arrival? What licence and insurance do you need? Can you drive one-way between cities? What’s the best route to take?

This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of booking rental cars and campervans in New Zealand and help ensure your road trip goes smoothly.

Pros to having a car or campervan


  • Freedom & Flexibility. We’ve already mentioned having the freedom to roam as you please, but it really is the best feeling being in full control of your itinerary and getting to choose when you want to go and when you want to stop. If you find yourself at an epic campground in the middle of one of our national parks and you want to stay another night, you can! 


  • Access to the best spots. You’ll have the opportunity to access some of the best places in New Zealand that buses, planes and trains just can’t get to. For example, waterholes, beaches, waterfalls and road side lookouts (which NZ has plenty of). You can find 100s of these incredible places on the free Roady app


  • Cost-effective. When you start to add up bus fares & plane tickets, you’ll start to realise that renting a car or campervan really is the cheapest option for travelling in New Zealand.


  • Weather. If the weather turns nasty, you can just jump in your adventure rig and go elsewhere.

Choosing the right vehicle for your trip

As driving around is going to be a huge aspect of your trip, picking the right vehicle is essential. To make the choice of car & campervan rentals in New Zealand a little easier to digest, we’ve put together this quick comparison guide for you. 


Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to hire a car or campervan. The answer completely depends on how you would like to travel and where you would like to sleep for the duration of your trip. While camping vehicles will allow you to stay at campgrounds and even in public places for free if your vehicle is self-contained, the bigger the vehicle, the more expensive it is to rent. Cars on the other hand are cheaper to rent but will force you to choose alternative accommodation types, like hotels, motels and hostels. 


Another thing to consider when choosing between a car or campervan is the season you’ll be travelling in. During the winter, temperatures can get pretty low and camping in a smaller camper with little to no heating may not be your idea of a good time. You’ll also be required to carry snow chains. During the summer campervans can get pretty expensive and if you’re not booking well in advance, you’ll have very limited options. 


Once you’ve decided between a car or camper for your trip, it’s then time to decide how big the vehicle will need to be.

Car Comparison


Small to medium cars are perfect for travelling from city to city, either solo, as a couple or as a group of three or four. These cars can go as low as NZD$30 a day in the off season and start from NZD$100 a day during peak season. 


Larger cars like SUVs or 4WDs are perfect for groups wanting to travel in style or for those wanting access to ski fields, and more remote gravel roads (if the rental agreement allows). These vehicles generally start at NZD$60 per day in the off season and start from NZD$170 per day in the peak season. 4WDs aren’t necessary to enjoy New Zealand and most places international travellers would like to go can be accessed by a normal car. We would only recommend this type of vehicle if the ski fields are a big part of your trip.


Hybrid/EVs are perfect for environmentally-conscious travellers or those wanting to save money on fuel. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular in New Zealand and the infrastructure is in place to keep you charged throughout your trip. These vehicles are around NZD$65 a day in the off season and start from NZD$170 during peak season. 

To make booking easy for you we’ve partnered with GoSee, a booking platform that searches and compares rental cars and campervans from all of New Zealand’s leading brands. Book your car through Roady here today and we’ll also plant a native tree back into NZ soil.

Campervan Comparison


Smaller campervans like Estimas or Hiaces are going to be the easiest campervans to drive. A lot of the smaller vans you may not be able to stand up in, so depending on how long you’re travelling for, you may want to opt for a Hi-Top for a little extra head room. These vehicles start from NZD$35 a day in the off season and NZD$110 in the peak season.


Bigger Motorhomes are a great option if you’re travelling with a bigger group or the whole family. Some of the larger motorhomes can sleep up to 6 people. They are also fitted out with all the facilities for a super comfortable trip and most of them will even have showers on board. They are certainly a little pricier, starting from NZD$110 in the off season and NZD$270 in the peak season. 

Book your campervan through Roady here today and we’ll also plant a native tree back into NZ soil.

What you need to know about renting a vehicle in New Zealand


We’ve listed a few extra things to note when renting a vehicle in New Zealand.


1. Drivers Licence - You can rent a vehicle in New Zealand as long as you have a full valid driver’s licence that is written in English. If your licence is not in English it will need to be accompanied by an approved translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP). 


2. Driver Age - You can rent a car in New Zealand from the age of 18 but most car rentals have their own age restrictions, such as only hiring to over 25-year-olds or you may have to pay a young drivers fee. 


3. Valid credit/debit card for booking - In order to hire a car in New Zealand, you need to provide a bond, which will be returned to you upon dropping off your vehicle providing the vehicle is undamaged, has a full fuel tank, and meets the other conditions of the rental agreement. Rental companies will take a credit card imprint or pre-authorisation, which means they will have access to the specified amount of money from your credit card should you damage the vehicle. Therefore, a credit card with Visa or MasterCard is needed to hire a car from most companies. If you wish to pay using debit card, you may also be required to pay an increased security bond amount.


4. Rental Insurance - Familiarise yourself with the insurance coverage options provided by the rental company. Renting a car or campervan in New Zealand often comes with standard vehicle insurance, but it's important to understand exactly what is and isn't covered. You’ll have the option to upgrade your car insurance in order to reduce the excess amount for a daily rate. This daily rate usually ranges between NZ$20 to $30 per day for car rentals and NZ$25 to $45 per day for campervans and motorhomes.  


5. Fuel costs - Fuel costs will vary throughout the country, but the average cost for petrol is usually NZ$2.50+ per litre. For diesel, it’s NZ$2+ (approximately) but you also have to pay road user charges (RUC) which is around NZ$76-$82 per 1,000 km. 


6. Ferry - Another cost to put into your budget is the cost of the ferry between the North Island and the South Island. The ferries book out fairly quickly during peak season, so this is something you’ll want to book well advance.


7. New Zealand Roads - One thing travellers aren’t always prepared for is how narrow and windy the New Zealand roads are. This is something you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re planning on hiring a larger motorhome. You may have to manoeuvre the big rig in some very tight situations. Another thing to note is that most rental companies won’t allow you to take your vehicle down certain dirt roads in New Zealand, such as the Skippers Canyon Rd near Queenstown.


8. Book In Advance - With a shortage of cars and campers over peak seasons (during summer and over public holidays) if you’re not booking well in advance (6-12 months before your trip), there’s a very high chance you’ll miss out or will have to pay a pretty high price. 


9. Car/Campervan Rental Costs - The daily cost of the car or campervan rental itself will depend on the size of the vehicle. For premium vehicles, like EVs, 4WDs and SUVs, expect this daily price to be a lot higher. Other rental fees may include a young driver’s fee if you are under 25 years old, a one-way fee if dropping off the vehicle in a different location to where you picked it up, and an extra driver’s fee. There may also be optional extras like hiring a GPS or snow chains. 


10. Sustainable Travel - Be mindful of the environment and if you’re hiring a campervan, practise responsible waste disposal.


11. Travel Direction - Depending on where you are flying out from will determine which direction you decide to take. Most international flights will have you flying out from Auckland, so consider starting your trip in the South Island (Christchurch or Queenstown) and working your way up North. Most of the main rental companies will allow one-way rentals, however, it may cost a little more. 

 12. Freedom Camping (For self-contained Campervans & Motorhomes) - There are strict freedom camping laws in New Zealand, meaning you can only camp for free in designated freedom camping spots. However, with a bit of research before you arrive at each location to sleep the night, you can find some places to park up for the night for free.

APPs to download before your road trip


Your handiest gadget when travelling abroad (and life in general) is your phone. So we have compiled a list of travel apps that will help you on your trip.


  • Roady - Our free Roady app helps travellers to access local knowledge and plan epic trips. We have over 950 of the very best hikes, beaches, waterfalls, lakes and experiences listed on the app. No matter where you are in New Zealand, the Roady app will point you in the direction of the best things to do.


  • Gaspy - Gaspy will show you where to get the cheapest fuel.


  • Spotify - No road trip is complete without an epic playlist to sing along to!


  • Windy - The most accurate weather app. Most parts of New Zealand can get 4 seasons in one day, and the weather can change quickly, so it always pays to check the weather for where you’re planning on visiting beforehand.


  • Wikicamps - A great app for finding campgrounds and dump stations.


Popular road trips in NZ 


Now you’ve got your vehicle sorted, it’s time to start planning the best road trip ever! To help you get started here are a few awesome road trip routes & hot spots to visit in New Zealand, to give you some ideas. 


Enjoy, and we’ll catch you on the road!


50 Places To Visit In New Zealand

Central Otago Touring Route

Southern Scenic Route

A Road Trip Through The Top Of The South

A 9-day Northland Adventure

5-day Road Trip Through Bay Of Plenty & Coromandel

Discover more local knowledge with the Roady App

The Roady App helps you find epic things to do and plan your New Zealand road trip.