Exploring New Zealand in a campervan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; and one that YOU should take. If you are already in New Zealand or you are planning your upcoming dream holiday, then 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 you make any big investments; it might be a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of renting versus buying a campervan. If you only intend to travel for 6-8 weeks; then renting is absolutely the way to go. However, if you have planned a trip that will exceed the 2 months mark, then buying a campervan and selling it might be the right choice for you. Selling your newly-purchased campervan in peak season would probably see you making 100% of your money back, but even in the winter months, you might be surprised at the return you could receive.
Planning your trip should set the tone for your New Zealand adventure, so we have compiled a guide to share the tips and basic points to consider, ensuring you find the ideal campervan for you!
1. Self-Contained Campervans VS or Non-Self-Contained Campervans
Self-contained vehicles require a larger initial investment, but prove to be the ultimate money-savers in the long run. These campervans give you the freedom to park and sleep on any free grounds in New Zealand without needing to consider the facilities on offer. For trips exceeding 2 months, this is definitely something to consider.
While non-self-contained campervans are usually cheaper to buy, and also cheaper to run as they are generally on the smaller and more fuel-efficient scale, they do force you to consider where your evening stops will be and what facilities you would require in a camping ground. If you are a planning to enjoy a more structured holiday plan, then 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
Note: If you are planning on selling your campervan during peak season, the return will be proportionally similar to what you invested.
2. Spend Some Time Looking for the Perfect Car Before You Arrive in New Zealand
New Zealand has a few websites that take the hassle out of buying a car, check out Trade Me, Facebook Sale Pages, and Groups as well as our very own Backpacker Campervan listings.
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 try to look outside peak times. This will ensure you find a good deal and will also guarantee that the car you want will be ready and waiting for you once you arrive.
3. You’ve arrived! Time to Find Your Campervan
Once you have found one or two potential campervans you should make an appointment to view the vehicle in person. You should always try to make this appointment in the morning to give you an added advantage over other potential buyers. Make sure you have enough time to peruse the vehicle, do a pre-mechanical check, and have adequate time to make the purchase and change ownership.
Note: You should do all these things before 5 pm, take also into consideration that any mechanical check should be booked in advance or notice the workshop at least a couple of hours before driving the car in, most mechanics won’t take the car for a mechanical check without a prior booking.
4. WOF “The Legal Mechanical Requirements”
New Zealand has strict laws when it comes to the roadworthiness of the vehicles on the roads. The WOF or Warrant of Fitness is an annual or 6 monthly inspection done on all vehicles.
For more information, click here: NZ Transport – Warrant of fitness
5. Registration & Road User Charges
New Zealand insists on a number of levies in order to own a vehicle.
Registration: Registration or REGO is the tax car owners need to pay to keep the car on the road, legally. Failing to display a valid registration may lead to a $200 fine. Registration usually costs between $8-$15 per month for petrol cars and around $25 for diesel vehicles.
Road User Charges: RUC is a tax for diesel vehicles. This tax is approximately $60 for every 1000 km traveled.
Note: If you purchase a vehicle that is unregistered or behind on its RUCs you will be liable for the costs, so make sure the previous owner shows proof of being up-to-date before you purchase the vehicle.
6. Where to Buy Your 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 a bit more if you decide to purchase a campervan in Auckland as opposed to Christchurch or Wellington. However, the variety on offer in Auckland is hard to compare.
→ If you are looking to buy a campervan in Auckland, you can check out the cars we have listed: Campervan stock (Auckland)
7. Paying for Your Campervan
Before deciding on your perfect car, you should know your budget and how you plan on finalizing the financial aspect of the transaction. There are a few payment options available in New Zealand including:
- Transferwise – If you register through the following banner, you will get your first transfer for free. Transferwise also has its own credit card service you can use anytime wherever you go with low fees.
- PayPal – a mobile payment option that allows the use of credit cards.
- Credit Card
- International Bank Transfer
Remember: Some international banks may impose withdrawal or payment limits, so safety should be considered when dealing with a private seller. It might be a safer option to change ownership and make payment at the same time/place. Post offices are usually close to banks and/or ATMs.
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 and Travel Cars Insurance Guide.
9. Petrol VS Diesel?
Most campervans in New Zealand run on petrol, but you can find a few diesel options. Petrol costs in New Zealand have been on the rise and currently cost around $2 per liter. While diesel costs are around the $1.20 per liter mark, there are extra RUC costs that will be incurred.
10. Campervans With a High Mileage
Don’t let a high mileage on a potential campervan unnerve you, the average mileage for a 20-year-old car is around 200 000kms and 300 000kms. Campervans in an affordable price range usually have high mileage but have been built and maintained (as per NZ laws) for hundreds of thousands of happily traveled kilometers. Toyota Hi ACE’s and Hyundai G200s have proven their endurance capabilities and still run smoothly after they have clocked over 500 000kms.
→ For more information, you can check later the following post: Second-hand campervans in New Zealand.
11. Buy Back Option
Some dealers offer you a buy-back guarantee, which would be determined by a number of factors.
Here at Travel Cars NZ, we offer you a guaranteed buy-back option, in writing, so you can enjoy your travels with the peace of mind of knowing that at the end of your adventure, you will be getting the majority of your investment back in your pockets.
→ For more info on our buy-back option: QA – Buy-back option
12. Camping Gear and Other Basics
Camping gear is readily available at many affordable shops throughout NZ. Many people base their decisions on the camping gear that comes with your campervan purchase, but this is not necessary.
A campervan could include the following essentials:
- Power Inverter to charge items like laptops
- Water Tanks
- Petrol Tank
- Safety equipment such as an Emergency Hi-Vis Triangle, spare tire & tools, jumper leads, and a tire jack.
Here are a few things you should invest in before you begin your journey around New Zealand:
- USB charger cables and multi-port chargers
- A comfortable mattress
- Waterproof gear
- Favorite New Zealand snacks for the full experience
Affordable camping gear can be found at The Warehouse and Kmart, as well as at a few designated camping stores.
We hope these tips will help you along your journey, and we wish you many happy miles in New Zealand!
If you found this post interesting, let us know by leaving a comment or just sharing with us your questions and, thoughts – safe travels!
For campervan inquiries, please complete the online form or contact us directly at +64 22 177 40 90
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
Hi Madu, the one in the post is working, anyway I leave it for you here https://travelcarsnz.com/blog/backpacker-car-insurance-new-zealand/
Hope that helps.
Great tips, I’m coming to NZ soon and will keep an eye on the listings.
Thank you William
Do you have for sale small cars / type hatchback?
Hi there, yes we have from time to time, you can check https://travelcarsnz.com/small-cars
Good explanation but a bit complicated for tourists to build their campervan into self contained I guess.
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.
Thank you Susan
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.
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
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.
Hi Chris, that’s right. Thanks for your comment.
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