12 Tips for Buying a Campervan in New Zealand

buying a campervan

Exploring New Zealand in a campervan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you should take. If you are already in New Zealand or planning your upcoming dream holiday, traveling around NZ in a campervan is definitely an option to consider. But before you start planning your big adventure, there are a few points to consider before buying a campervan.

Before making significant investments, weigh the pros and cons of renting versus buying a campervan. If you only intend to travel for 6–8 weeks, renting is the way. However, if you have planned a trip that will exceed the 2-month mark, buying and selling a campervan might be the right choice for you.

Selling your newly purchased campervan in peak season would likely see you making 100% of your money back, but even in the winter months, you might be surprised at the return you receive.

Planning your trip should set the tone for your New Zealand adventure, so we have compiled a guide to share the tips and essential points to consider, ensuring you find the ideal campervan!

1. Self-contained campervans VS. non-Self-contained campervans

Self-contained vehicles require a more significant initial investment, but are the ultimate money-savers in the long run. These campervans allow you to park and sleep on any free grounds in New Zealand without considering the facilities on offer. For trips exceeding two months, this is something to consider.

While non-self-contained campervans are usually cheaper to buy and run as they are generally on a smaller and more fuel-efficient scale, they force you to consider where your evening stops will be and what facilities you would require in a camping ground.

If you plan to enjoy a more structured holiday plan, this option might work well for you and your traveling team!

🏞 For more information, check out the following post: Self-Contained Campervans in New Zealand

sc campervan

2. Spend some time looking for the perfect campervan before you arrive

We recommend that you start looking for a car about a month before you arrive; remember that prices fluctuate according to the month of the year, so if possible, look outside peak times. This will ensure you find a good deal and guarantee that the car you want will be ready and waiting for you once you arrive.

🚐 If renting could be an option or a last resource, we recommend you check prices with Spaceship Rentals.

spaceship rentals

3. You’ve arrived! Time to find a campervan

Once you have found one or two potential campervans, you should make an appointment to view the vehicle in person. It would help if you always tried to make this appointment in the morning to give you an advantage over other potential buyers.

Ensure you have enough time to peruse the vehicle, do a pre-mechanical check, and have adequate time to purchase and change ownership.

New Zealand has a few websites that take the hassle out of buying a car. Check out Trade Me, Facebook Sale Pages, Groups, and our very own campervan listings.

Note: Ensure you complete all these tasks before 5 pm. Additionally, remember that scheduling a mechanical check in advance is crucial. Mechanics typically require prior bookings or a couple of hours notice before accepting a car for inspection. Plan accordingly to avoid any inconvenience.

travel cars nz

4. WOF “The legal, mechanical requirements”

New Zealand has strict laws regarding the roadworthiness of the vehicles on the roads. The WOF or Warrant of Fitness is an annual or six-monthly vehicle inspection.

🔩 For more information, you can check the following article: NZ Transport – Warrant of fitness


5. Registration & Road user charges

Owning a vehicle in New Zealand comes with various levies that you must adhere to:

  • Registration (REGO): Car owners must pay the Registration or REGO tax to keep their vehicles on the road legally. Failure to display a valid registration may result in a $200 fine. Typically, registration costs range from $8 to $15 monthly for petrol cars and approximately $25 for diesel vehicles.
  • Road User Charges (RUC): This tax is specifically for diesel vehicles, amounting to approximately $60 for every 1000 km traveled.

Important Note: If you purchase an unregistered vehicle or have outstanding RUCs, you will be responsible for the associated costs. Ensure the previous owner provides proof of being up-to-date before finalizing the purchase of the vehicle.


6. Where to buy a campervan

Auckland is one of the liveliest cities in the world but also one of the most expensive. This extends to house prices as well as vehicles. Be prepared to pay more if you purchase a campervan in Auckland instead of Christchurch or Wellington. However, the variety on offer in Auckland is hard to compare.

7. Buying a campervan (the payment process)

Before deciding on your perfect car, you should know your budget and how you plan to finalize the transaction’s financial aspect. There are a few payment options available in New Zealand, including:

  • Wise – If you register through the following banner, you will get your first transfer for free. Transferwise also has a credit card service you can use anytime, wherever you go, with low fees.
  • PayPal is a mobile payment option that allows the use of credit cards.
  • Credit Card
  • Cash
  • International Bank Transfer

Remember: Some international banks may impose withdrawal or payment limits, so safety should be considered when dealing with a private seller. Changing ownership and making payments simultaneously/place is a safer option. Post offices are usually close to banks and ATMs.

💳 Register with Transferwise through the following link and get your first transfer for FREE: Register – Wise

Bonus: Once registered, the App allows you to invite your friends and make money while you travel.

wise app

8. Insurance

In New Zealand, it is not legally enforceable to have car insurance, but it is recommended. Most insurance companies offer insurance on monthly or 3,6 and 9-monthly terms.

👨‍💻 Be sure to check out which company offers the right cover for you. You can check out: AA Insurance

car insurance

9. Petrol VS. Diesel

Before buying a campervan, you should know that most campervans in New Zealand run on petrol, but you can find a few diesel options. Petrol costs in New Zealand have risen and currently cost around $2.70 per liter. While diesel costs are around the $1.90 per liter mark, extra RUC costs will be incurred.

10. Campervans with high mileage

Don’t be discouraged by high mileage on a prospective campervan. It’s not uncommon for a 20-year-old car to have an average mileage ranging from 200,000 to 300,000 km. Campervans in the affordable price range often boast higher mileage but have been diligently built and maintained in compliance with NZ laws, enduring hundreds of thousands of kilometers with happy travels.

Vehicles like the Toyota Hi ACE and Hyundai G200 have demonstrated remarkable endurance, running smoothly even after surpassing the 500,000 km mark.

🚌 For more information, check the post: Second-hand campervans in New Zealand.

high mileage

11. Buy-back option

Unlike some dealers who may provide a buy-back guarantee subject to various conditions, Travel Cars NZ offers a written and guaranteed buy-back option. This assurance allows you to embark on your travels with the peace of mind that, after your adventure, a significant portion of your investment will be returned to your pocket.

💰 Explore further details on our buy-back option: QA — Buy-back option


12. Camping gear and other basics

Camping gear is readily available at numerous affordable shops throughout NZ. While many individuals consider the included camping gear when purchasing a campervan, it can be optional.

A campervan might include essential items such as:

  • Power inverter for charging laptops
  • Water tanks
  • Petrol tank
  • Safety equipment like an Emergency Hi-Vis Triangle, spare tire & tools, jumper leads, and a tire jack.

Before embarking on your New Zealand journey, consider investing in:

  • USB charger cables and multi-port chargers
  • Comfortable mattress
  • Waterproof gear
  • Blankets
  • Favorite New Zealand snacks for the full experience

Affordable camping gear is available at The Warehouse, Kmart, and select camping stores.

🚗💨 We trust these tips will light up your journey! Wishing you many happy miles in New Zealand!

If you found this post interesting, let us know with a comment or share your questions and thoughts. Safe travels!


  • A top tip is about self contained, it’s very important to understand the expenses and how much will save you in the long run.

  • Hello Travel Cars, the AA insurance seems to be the best but online is only possible to buy 1 year, no less than that, very frustrating.

    • Hi Joshua, you can cancel it at anytime when you leaving NZ or just go to any AA office, there are plenty all around New Zealand.

  • Hi Travel Cars, the insurance link is not working, how can I get more info? Thanks

  • Great tips, I’m coming to NZ soon and will keep an eye on the listings.

  • Do you have for sale small cars / type hatchback?

  • Good explanation but a bit complicated for tourists to build their campervan into self contained I guess.

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Adria, few people decide to do it but most of travelers buy them one ready to go.

  • Definitely much easier to buy or sell a campervan in Auckland than other places in NZ, one of the best posts I have read about buying.

  • The best place to start is with our new car rankings and reviews or used car rankings and reviews. When you find the right car, you can search for the right deal with our new car deals, lease deals, and used car deals pages.

    • Hi Sergio, unsure about your comment, you mean check reviews before going ahead with a car? If that’s what you mean then I agree with you, actually most of people looking to buy a car check reviews and feedback from other people before making a final decision. Thanks for your comment.

  • We have just enjoyed 22 days in a rented camper van and have thoroughly enjoyed our time in NZ. So much so we plan to return for longer and are already thinking of buying a van. We met several people who have gone down the route of purchasing. We have several thought on how the accommodation should be laid out, is there a way of ordering a camper van with a bespoke layout?
    Would also recommend that potential campers download Rankers and CamperMate to locate good camping sites. We used both as they didn’t always have the same sites listed.

    • Travel Cars NZ

      Hi Derek, we fully customize vans and people movers. You can contact us with the details of what you need and we will find it for you. Thank you

  • Chris Wordsworth

    To be pedantic “Registration” is a ONE OFF payment when the vehicle is first put onto New Zealand roads. This records all the details and owner records of the vehicle for the life of the vehicle.

    What New Zealand locals call the REGO is actually the LICENSE that is a tax car-owners need to pay to keep the car on the road, legally. NZTA have all the info needed.

  • Cristofer Rodriguez

    Heya Travel Cars! Nice to find you, I will be looking at buying a campervan in Auckland in September this year, how frequently do you have cars available for sale? I can see they are getting sold pretty quickly! Hope to hear from you soon 🙂

    • Hi Cristofer, we use to have cars available, but we do work also under reservation, for more information contact us directly at +64 22 177 40 90. Thank you

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