Explore New Zealand in a campervan is a one life time experience you should take at some stage, if you are already in New Zealand or you are planning to arrive later, this option is definitely a good idea, however we will explain you a few facts that you should consider before taking action.

Just one question before deciding to purchase a car: Buy a campervan or just rent it?

If you are planning to travel for more than 6-8 weeks is worth to buy a campervan in New Zealand, under this period of time could be better just rent one out!

In case you are travelling for a short period of time don’t worry too much if you want to sell it later on, in the high season is very easy to sell your camper to the next traveller, that means you can get 100% of your money back! If you sell it in winter then won’t be the case but will be much cheaper than renting at the end of the day.

In the following guide we are going to show you few tips and basics that you should follow to find the right campervan for your trip.

1. Decide between self-contained or non self-contained


Buying a self-contained campervan requires a bigger initial investment, but its a money saver in the long run, those kind of campervans give you the freedom to park and sleep in any free grounds all around New Zealand.


If you are planing to travel for more than 2 months and sleep all the time in the car definitely a self-contained campervan is the right option.

How about non self-contained?

The cars without the certificate have also some positive things, for example, most of this models are smaller than conventional campervans (mostly normal cars or station wagons), the fuel efficiency is much better, lower petrol or diesel consumption. Some campervans could not have the certificate, the only way that’s worth is if you are looking for something not too small and cheaper than a self-contained.

At the end of the day..

Whatever is your decision take into consideration that you will end up selling your campervan, the price you will get back selling it will be proportionally similar to the purchase or, if you are selling your campervan in the low season then proportionally cheaper according low season prices.


2. Spend some time looking at cars before arriving to New Zealand


Some helpfull websites are trademe, backpackerboard, facebook groups and you can also check our own and customer campervan listings.

Recommended look maximum a month before you arrive as the prices may change depending on the month of the year, on winter the prices are much cheaper and summer higher.

If you are arriving in the high season the cars in general use not to be available for sale for more than a few days.

3. Time to search for a campervan: you arrived!


You can start arranging meetings for viewing different cars or just the one you really like, the best moment use to be in the morning, that will give you the following advantages:

  1. Early viewing before other potential buyers.
  2. Chance of doing a pre-mechanical check on the car.
  3. The option of buying it then you can still change the ownership at the post office and drive it back to your hostel.

Note: You should do all these things before 5pm, take also into consideration that any mechanical check should be booked in advance or notice the workshop with at least a couple of hours before driving the car in, most of mechanics won’t take the car for a mechanical check without a prior booking.

new zealand


4. WOF “the legal mechanical side”


The WOF or “Warrant of fitness” its an inspection regularly done in all the vehicles, depending on the age each car should be checked every 6 or 12 months to be legal on the road.

For more information you can check out the following link: NZ Transport – Warrant of fitness

5. Registration & RUC


Registration: Basically a tax you have to pay to keep the car legally on the road, if the registration expires you can get a 200$ ticket.

Usually registration cost monthly between 8$ to 15$ in petrol cars and around 25$ in diesel cars

RUC: That’s a tax only for diesel cars where the owners have to pay around 60$ per each 1000km drove in a car. Make sure before buying a car to have this up to date, otherwise you will have to pay all the unpaid kms, very important!

6. The location for buying a campervan


campervans location


If you are planning to start your trip in Auckland you should prepare a bit higher your budget, the prices are different depending where you go, in Christchurch for example, are cheaper but there is not that much to offer in comparation with Auckland.


For campervan listings you can check out this links for the 3 most active cities in New Zealand:

-Campervan listings: Auckland

-Campervan listings: Wellington

-Campervan listings: Christchurch



7. How to pay and buy your campervan?


Before deciding which car you are going to purchase you should have ready the money, that doesn’t mean you carry with you a bunch of cash! Here we show you the different options:

-Transfer money with Transferwise

-Pay the seller with PayPal (credit card allowed)

-Pay by cash, you can prepare it before arriving to New Zealand.

-Use of the credit card and cash payment (usually limited 500$ per day foreign credit cards)

-International bank transfer or New Zealand bank transfer

Note: We only set-out the different options, some of them shoudn’t be done with private sellers due safety reasons.

The most save will be change the ownership at the post office and make the payment at the same place, already having the money or cashing it out in the moment at the bank or ATM.

8. Taking insurance, obligation or not


campervan insurance


Many people don’t know, but in New Zealand taking a car insurance is not part of the rules, that means you can drive without any insurance.

For travellers there are few companies than can provide insurance monthly or for different periods of time like 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.

A couple of recommendations could be AA Insurance or Travellers Car Insurance.


9. Petrol or Diesel?


A big number of campervans in New Zealand are petrol, the litre cost around 1,80$ to 2$NZ.

Diesel cars are much cheaper, around 1$ per litre, but there is a tax for the kms you drive with it (around 60$ for each 1000km).

Pretty much the fuel costs will be the same at the end of your trip.

10. High mileage on campervans


It’s very normal in New Zealand to find campervans with high kms, specially the ones on a “backpacker price range”.

Average mileage for a 20 year old car its between 200,000km and 300,000km, many models are above the 300 mark, for example Toyota HI ACE or Hyundai G200 can have easily around 500,000km and still going like a rocket!

toyota hi ace campervan

11. Buy back option 


That’s an option that some dealers can give you with no guarantees, here on Travel Cars NZ we do and by writting, the price you will get back will depend on many facts that will affect the buy back option.

For more information about our buy back option you can check out this link: QA – Buy back option 

12. Camping gear & other basics


When deciding to buy a campervan many people look after the “camping gear included”, most of the times this gear is used and in poor condition, many times we offer brand new but is not an important thing to look after! 

Its just a mistake buying a campervan just because it includes or not enough camping gear, you can buy all you want very cheap and brand new at for example the Warehouse.

Some other basics that your campervan must have, or you should include are:

-Good quality matress, could be foam or real matress.

-Power inverter to charge specially laptops or use other powerful devices

-USB or multi-port car charger

-Water tanks

-Petrol tank

-Jumper leads

-Triangles, jacket and spare tyre tools working in good order

At that’s it! Hope you like them and find useful all these tips, if you have any question, any idea or a new resource to include will be great to hear about you!

You can comment down the post or just share it with a friend, for campervans enquiries you can contact us directly at any of my signature options.

Thank you and see you on the next one.

Best regards,

contact travel cars