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Discover the wonders of New Zealand in a campervan
One of the best ways to feast your eyes upon the spectacular vistas of Aotearoa, as New Zealand is called in the native Māori language, is with a motorhome rental. Wheels and accommodation in one tidy package make it easy to get around, get up close and personal with the delights of New Zealand, and set up camp for the night wherever the road takes you.
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Where to hire a campervan in New Zealand
Most journeys in New Zealand begin in one of the four cities listed here, each one with a busy airport and many tourism providers. These hubs provide access to varied regions. Read below to get an idea of which one might best suit you as the starting locations for an unforgettable NZ camper rental road trip.
The “City of Sails” is New Zealand’s biggest and also home to the country’s primary international airport. It’s a sparkling metropolis with lengthy coastlines, located on an isthmus between two harbours. A motorhome hire from Auckland can take you to the sunny and remote beaches of Northland, the holidaymakers’ paradise that is the Coromandel Peninsula, the rolling pasture of the Waikato region, the cultural and geothermal displays at Rotorua, and the incredible lakes and alpine scenery of the central North Island.
This is the capital city, known for its good food, artistic flair, beautiful beach suburbs, and the incredible Te Papa museum. A campervan hire from Wellington, New Zealand, will set you on a journey to see many fantastic places in the lower half of the North Island. There are mountains, lakes, forest parks, and national parks to explore. The iconic peak of Mount Taranaki is surrounded by a gorgeous surf coast. Across on the eastern side of the country, Hawkes Bay and its beautiful vineyards await. It’s also a short trip across Cook Strait on a vehicular ferry to the verdant drowned valleys of the Marlborough Sounds.
This resilient metropolis of the South Island is a starting point for many road trippers. Centrally located, it gives access to the entire island—and while there may be some long drives to get to your destination, they’ll be very visually pleasing ones. From the spectacular Southern Alps to the plains of Canterbury, golden sands of the Nelson region to the wild black beaches of the West Coast, the southern section of New Zealand is the one that visitors tend to write home about.
Adventure Capital of the World, this incredible town is all about appreciating and experiencing the unforgettable landscapes in which it is situated. So many adventurous activities are on offer here, alongside more tranquil ones like winery visits, lake cruises, and simply admiring the view. Head farther afield and the entire scenic South Island awaits. Queenstown is a great starting point for an intrepid trip into Fiordland to see the iconic, jaw-dropping Milford Sound.
New Zealand motorhome road trip information
New Zealand is a land full of, among other things, spectacular and varied scenery. The locals are laid back and friendly, the native birds are unique and interesting, there are plenty of diverse cities, history and heritage abound, and there is no end of wine regions and charming rural or coastal towns. All of that is a bonus—the scenery remains the main drawcard for many visitors.
A safe road trip is a good road trip. New Zealand roads have unique quirks and challenges, so to help you enjoy a journey free from incidents, we have listed a few basic driving tips. If you’re visiting from overseas or this is your first time renting a motorhome, read on and be prepared!
- Drive on the left! New Zealand is a left-driving country, and the driver sits on the right-hand side of the vehicle.
- Listen carefully to the advice and information given by staff at the depot on how to operate your specific vehicle. Ask any questions you have. They are your best source of help when it comes to the motorhome itself.
- Some roads in New Zealand are mountainous, winding, and narrow. Take great care on these routes and brake to slow down before corners. Vehicles moving downhill should give way to those moving uphill.
- Roundabouts are a common form of traffic control. Enter to the left, and give way to those already circulating.
- In remote areas of New Zealand, you are likely to come across one-way bridges—even on main roads. Check the posted signs to find out which direction has right of way.
- The blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers is 0.05%. We recommend abstaining from alcohol entirely before getting behind the wheel.
Many NZ roads are spectacularly scenic! Distracted driving is dangerous, so pull over to enjoy the views rather than trying to catch a glimpse from behind the wheel.
Road trip inspiration
There’s something wonderful down just about any highway or byway in New Zealand—and with a campervan hire, the sky’s the limit. If you’re overwhelmed by options, take a look at the suggestions we have put together.
Auckland to Wellington: 3-5 days
If you drove straight through with few stops, this trip would easily fit into less than a day—but we suggest taking plenty of time to see all there is to see along the way. What could that include? A detour to sit on the beach at Coromandel, a skiing adventure at Mt Ruapehu, a climb up or around Mount Taranaki, a dip in Lake Taupo, and so much more. This is the road trip for anyone who wants to see as much as possible of the dynamic North Island.
Auckland round trip via Northland: 3-5 days
If you like beaches, this is the route for you. With your campervan rental from Auckland, head north and spend some time exploring the many beaches and coastlines you’ll find there. Many have gorgeous seaside campgrounds—such as the famous holiday destination of Ruakaka—so you can spend as much time as possible on the sand. Right at the top is the iconic and windswept Cape Reinga with its remote lighthouse.
Christchurch round trip: 10-14 days
For an overview of the South Island, pick up your motorhome rental in Christchurch and make a leisurely loop. This could include anything that takes your fancy. Hike in Abel Tasman National Park and enjoy sunny Nelson, drive down the windswept West Coast, bungy jump in Queenstown, cruise on spectacular Milford Sound, and meander through the pretty Catlins coast. There are so many possibilities with a campervan trip from Christchurch.
Queenstown to Christchurch via Aoraki/Mount Cook: 2-4 days
This route is about quality over quantity! Pick up a Queenstown campervan hire and enjoy the spectacular highways on the way to Christchurch—spread over as many days as you can allow! Highlights include the scenic drive over Lindis Pass, the incredible icy blue tones of Lake Pukaki, glimpses of New Zealand’s highest peak, and the wide, braided rivers of Canterbury. Take a detour to explore Mount Cook village and do a few walks in the area to see the glaciers.
What our customers say
With so many rental suppliers and types of motorhome available across the country, a New Zealand campervan hire can have very varied rates. As an indication, a rental could cost as little as NZD$50 per day for a very simple sleepervan or as much as NZD$500 or more per day for a large luxury RV.
Find the rental that fits your budget with GoSee’s simple search engine and filters.
Some rental suppliers will rent to those aged 18 and over, while others require renters to be at least 21. Surcharges may be added for a driver under the age of 25.
You need a full regular licence—no heavy vehicle licences are needed. If you are an international visitor, you can use a licence from your home country for up to 12 months. If it is not in English, you will need to accompany it with an accredited translation.
Aside from any necessary personal effects and gear, you will need your driver’s licence (see questions above), your booking confirmation, your passport if you are visiting internationally, and the credit card you used to book the vehicle.
Yes, some rental companies have a minimum hire period. You may be able to hire a camper for a shorter period but will have to pay to cover the minimum period. If this is the case, that information will be included in your search results.
No, freedom camping is not available anywhere. There are some places that allow you to park and camp for free in a fully self-contained vehicle, and the rules around this are set by local and regional councils. Some of these freedom camping spots will be marked with signs, and you can ask at local tourist information centres for suggestions. There are plenty of low-cost campsites around the country operated by the Department of Conservation.
If you intend to freedom camp where possible, make sure that you rent a self-contained motorhome for your New Zealand road trip.
Yes, many rental suppliers have depots in different cities and will allow one-way road trips. This may incur a relocation fee. Specify your desired pick up location and drop off location when searching to see the available options.
Yes, the majority of motorhome rentals in New Zealand include unlimited kilometres.
If you want sun and warmth, the summer (December to February) is the best time to book your campervan hire. Avoid the summer school holidays (mid-December to end of January) for fewer crowds and campervan deals in NZ. The shoulder seasons are pleasantly temperate, offering a fantastic alternative. Winter road trips are great for snow sport lovers and those who like a bit of chill—most campervans will be equipped with heating to keep you cosy when it’s cold, and the northern reaches of the country have very mild winters.
The default speed limits in New Zealand are 50 kilometres per hour in urban or built-up areas and 100 kph on open roads and motorways or highways. These are variable and different limits can be posted according to the type and location of a road—so always check the signs.