Touchdown Christchurch: How to find the best car hire in Christchurch

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Sarah Glover
7 Sep, 2022
11 minutes to read

Book your Christchurch car rental in confidence

Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island is known as the “Garden City” for its beautiful botanical gardens and verdant riverbanks. Resilient and rebuilt after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, it’s a city with spirit and surprising urban innovations around every corner.

It’s also a fantastic springboard for anyone set on adventure. Christchurch has an international airport, the second busiest air hub in New Zealand. Plenty of travellers from all over the globe arrive in the city centre, enjoy what’s on offer there, and then start the road trip of a lifetime exploring the stunning New Zealand's South Island.

From the lofty peak of Aoraki/Mount Cook to the quiet Catlins forests, the windswept magnificence of the West Coast to the sunny golden sands of the Abel Tasman region, there are incredible things to see around every twist in the road. To pick up a car hire at Christchurch Airport is the best way to experience it all, up close and personal and to the beat of your own drum.

A few quick FAQs about Christchurch car rentals

Before we delve into how you can find the best Christchurch airport car rental and rent a car for your planned adventure, here are a few answers to common questions.

How old do I have to be to rent a car in Christchurch?

Most car rental suppliers in Christchurch have a minimum age requirement of 21 years. However, 18-21 year olds can rent from a few hire car companies including Jucy, Omega, Ace, and Hertz. There may be a surcharge for young drivers.

Where will I collect my Christchurch car rental?

Some rental companies have counters right inside the terminals at Christchurch International Airport, making it very simple to collect your car. These include Ezi, Avis, Europcar, Thrifty, Hertz, Enterprise, Sixt, Budget Car Rentals and a few other suppliers.

Other companies have depots close to the terminal and will provide a free shuttle pick-up for arriving passengers. These include Jucy, Yes Rentals, Big Save, Drive NZ, Ace, Discount Car Rentals, and other (primarily national or regional) suppliers. If you need more details, you may also contact the location phone number listed on your confirmation.

What type of car is recommended for driving in Christchurch?

If you’re staying within the city limits, any type of car will be fine—we’d recommend something as compact as possible for the sake of both the environment and your wallet. There are plenty of economical options, and some suppliers even offer hybrid or electric options.

If you’re leaving Christchurch and heading out to explore the South Island, you might consider something a bit larger for luggage storage and a smooth ride. Coordinate with the Christchurch car hire branch if you are returning the vehicle to another location they serve.

How much does it cost to rent a car from Christchurch?

The price of a car hire from Christchurch will vary widely according to several factors including the type of vehicle, duration of the hire, time of year, and the supplier. As an indication, you could pay up to NZD$450 plus for a luxury vehicle, NZD$300 for a van or people mover, and as little as NZD$40 per day for a compact car.

How to get the best car rental in Christchurch

What is the best quality rental car? That will depend entirely on your unique plans for travel in NZ and your budget. Only you know what you need from your set of wheels—but here are some tips for tracking down a car hire that suits you.

Be flexible

A little flexibility in your plans can go a long way! Car rental suppliers often run special deals which might involve specific pick-up and drop-off locations or include added extras like ski passes. Having your plans for itinerary and accommodation set in stone can mean that it’s difficult to take advantage of these. The good news is that New Zealand is not a huge country, and it’s relatively easy to be flexible with the start and finish location while still including all you want to see in your itinerary.

So for the best car rental deals, make your car rental one of the foundational building blocks of your holiday, and be prepared to go with the flow. If you can plan your trip for an off or shoulder season, you’re likely to find even more savings.

Aerial view of a coastal suburb in Christchurch.
Enjoy the punting tours at the Avon River.

Book early

Leaving your rental car booking to the last minute can not only mean you’ll pay premium prices, but it runs the risk of not being able to find the vehicle you want. Although some suppliers will run last-minute car rental deals, it’s generally not worth taking the gamble—particularly if you’re booking for a busy time of year!

Christchurch is popular with travellers as a starting point for road trips. The rental suppliers are not lacking in customers. Booking your vehicle early, as one of the most important puzzle pieces of your plans, means you are much more likely to get what you need for a memorable adventure.

Compare and contrast

The very best tip we have is to compare all the options available for your Christchurch car rental to find the one that suits you and your travel companions! Informed decision-making is key.

Comparing and contrasting the options across an array of individual websites is time-consuming and confusing. To truly consider all of the possibilities involves a plethora of tabs open at the same time and hours spent flocking back and forth between them, making different searches to see what’s available for any possible variation in your plans, and taking a lot of notes.

With a comprehensive list of Christchurch car rental options from a very wide array of suppliers in front of you, it’s smooth sailing to compare them

An aggregator like GoSee travel’s simple platform makes it easy and quick to compare the cheap car hire rates. All you need to do is choose a pick-up and drop-off location, enter dates and some other relevant details like age and country of origin, and click “Search Cars”. The comprehensive search engine will do the work for you.

Once your search is complete, you will be presented with a list of car rentals available. These are listed with the lowest prices first by default, but there is the option to rearrange with the highest prices or most recommended vehicles first.

With a comprehensive list of Christchurch car rental options from a very wide array of suppliers in front of you, it’s smooth sailing to compare them—particularly with the help of handy filters. The GoSee platform allows you to narrow down the options according to budget, vehicle preferences (e.g manual or automatic transmission), number of passengers, depot location, and more categories. All of the most relevant details are displayed right there on the search listings, and you can click through for more detailed information. You can also save quotes at the click of a button, or click the heart icon in the top right corner of each listing to start creating a shortlist.

A screenshot of search results showing car rentals in Christchurch.
Cars driving down a hill.

Think through your plans

Before it comes to decision crunch time, consider what you need from your rental vehicle. A small and compact car will be the most affordable option and is perfect for two people exploring the city and immediate surroundings. But if you have a bigger group of travellers, each with their own luggage, you may want more space than an economy rental will provide.

4-wheel drive capabilities are not necessary for the majority of driving in New Zealand—at least, not on roads where you are permitted to take a rental car! But if your plans include driving up to a skifield or spending a good amount of time on unsealed roads, you may feel more comfortable with a 4WD vehicle. Always check with your rental supplier or customer service rep to find out where you can drive the rental car without voiding your insurance.

A very cheap Christchurch airport rental car is fantastic for your budget. But you may regret the decision when you’re at the top of a mountain near Queenstown, facing the prospect of stuffing four people and their wet ski gear into a small compact car and then driving down the hill on snowy roads.

You should also give some thought to which added extras will benefit you and include these in the booking. Rental suppliers will often offer extras such as:

  • Child car seats and boosters
  • GPS units
  • Snow chains
  • Additional drivers
  • Excess cover

To make life a little easier, add these at the time of booking and get them ticked off the list.

Queenstown at night.

Ready to book?

Hop on and off the trams with your all-day ticket to explore the best of the city.

Our quickfire tips for booking your car hire Christchurch

While a lot of the advice we’ve given above is dependent on the individual renter and their specific plans, there are some tips that apply to almost everyone. These are our top pointers for renting a car from the Garden City:

  • If you’re arriving from overseas and are not sure of whether you’ll have mobile data for your smartphone, we highly recommend including a GPS unit in your booking. It may save you a lot of time and stress!
  • Get excess cover. An accident during your holiday is already a major hassle without the prospect of having to pay thousands for the excess charge!
  • Try to find a supplier that offers roadside assistance as a free inclusion. This will be invaluable if you end up needing it!
  • Factor the age of the vehicle into your decision-making. Older cars are more prone to issues, while later models are less so.
  • Use the reviews! In the GoSee search results, you can click on the rating in the top left corner of a listing to see the breakdown of its review scores and get an idea of what other renters thought of the vehicle.

Knowledge is power, and you’re now ready to book your car hire Christchurch in confidence! All the best for an unforgettable adventure with a suitable set of wheels.