Where should I rent a campervan in New Zealand?

 

New Zealand Map Isometric map on phone rent motorhome location 850px


Travelling by recreational vehicle (RV) such as campervan or motorhome is an amazing way to explore the breathtaking landscape of New Zealand. While road trips by car are super popular here, New Zealand has an international reputation for being the ultimate campervan holiday destination. However, there aren’t as many campervan and motorhome rental companies as there are car rental companies. You can find a car rental operator in every city and even in most big towns. Since there are fewer campervan rental locations, it pays to understand your options before deciding where you start and end your trip because where you rent from can have a big impact on both your choice of campervans and your holiday experience.

To help you get the best out of your rental, we’ve compiled some insights about where to rent a motorhome or campervan in New Zealand so you can focus on planning your perfect journey.

We’ll guide you through the ins and outs of where you can rent a campervan in New Zealand, look at the options you’ll have in our biggest cities and the provincial areas, and share some tips you’ll find helpful if you’re visiting both the North and South Islands.


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Where can I rent a campervan in New Zealand?

Most campervan rental operators are based in Auckland and Christchurch. That’s because they are home to New Zealand’s two main airports. In fact, 85% of international visitors disembark in either Auckland or Christchurch (about 71% in Auckland and 14% in Christchurch).

You can pick up a campervan rental from other cities and regional centres but you’ll find far fewer rental operators in these locations (see table below). Even Queenstown, the city with the fourth busiest airport in New Zealand, only has one major motorhome rental operator.

Table: Campervan and motorhome rental operators in New Zealand's major cities.

Location

Number of campervan rental operators

Auckland

23

Hamilton

3

Tauranga

0

New Plymouth

0

Napier

0

Palmerston North

0

Wellington

1

Nelson

0

Christchurch

22

Dunedin

1

Source: Tourism New Zealand.

Why start your campervan hire in Auckland or Christchurch?

Beginning your rental hire in Auckland or Christchurch will give you the most choice of rental operators, campervan or motorhome types, and providers of extra services like bike rentals and hire equipment for babies. You can choose from several large commercial operators, some smaller operators and many private owners who rent their campervans out through platforms like Mighway.

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Why start your campervan rental outside of Auckland and Christchurch?

While there are fewer rental operators to choose from in the provincial cities, it does make sense to begin your New Zealand road trip in one of these locations if you live far from Auckland or Christchurch and there’s a rental operator close by. The same applies if you’re coming from overseas to visit friends or family who live a distance from Auckland or Christchurch.

couple exploring motorhome wilderness pick up rental at base 850px


Travelling between the North and South Island

Since most international flights arrive in Auckland, most people start their New Zealand tour from there and head south. One of the consequences of Auckland’s popularity as an arrival destination is that Christchurch ends up with a surplus of RVs at certain times of the year, so you can often find great deals for northbound travel.

So if your flight to New Zealand lands in Auckland and you are planning to explore both the North Island and South Islands, we suggest you take the short flight to Christchurch after you arrive and start your trip there instead. If you prefer to start your trip from Auckland, we highly recommend you fly back to Auckland from Christchurch at the end of your trip rather than drive back.

RV rentals differ from car rentals in that you cannot drop your campervan or motorhome in Wellington (at the bottom of the North Island) and rent another in Picton (at the top of the South Island). If you’re travelling between islands, check that the rental operator allows you to take your campervan on the Cook Strait ferry.

New Zealand auckland to christchurch map ferry and highway route


Can I do a one-way campervan rental?

New Zealand is unique in that campervans are a popular method of travel for both domestic and international tourists all year round. Rental companies that have bases in more than one location offer one-way rentals between cities. This is the best way to go if you plan to cover both the North and South Islands. If you are doing a campervan trip in Europe or the UK, you can expect that you will have to return your campervan to where you picked it up. Unlike New Zealand, Australia and the US, most campervan rentals in Europe and the UK are offered through campervan dealerships that run a small fleet of rentals for a limited time over the summer. So you need to return the campervan to the dealership where you picked it up from.

 

While driving in a loop might sound like a scenic idea, you’ll be travelling on the same stretch of road (State Highway 1) for much of the time both ways - particularly in the North Island. Not only will you be wasting precious holiday time backtracking, but you’ll also finish your road trip absolutely exhausted! Driving one way and flying back to your departure city is more relaxing, cost effective, and easier on the environment.

new zealand road trip motorhome rental wilderness


Since campervan rental operators are not as easy to locate as car rentals, choosing where you start your journey is important to consider. While beginning in Auckland or Christchurch gives you a greater selection of RV operators and options, it’s not ideal if you’re starting further from these centres.

If you’re planning on covering both the North Island and South Island on your trip, choosing to fly to Christchurch and start your trip there can help you secure a discount on your rental. If you’re sticking to exploring just one island (which we highly recommend), you can choose a one-way trip and avoid travelling the same road both ways. Unlike many rental operators in Europe and the UK, rental operators in New Zealand often give you the freedom to book a one-way trip and enjoy all the country has to offer without repeating the same road twice.

Ultimately, New Zealand is a fantastic destination to embrace campervan road trips or motorhoming. With a little planning on where to start, you’ll create plenty of special memories while on the road.

 


 Make your New Zealand road trip unforgettable with Wilderness Motorhomes

Create remarkable memories against the gorgeous backdrop of New Zealand scenery with a premium Wilderness motorhome.


 

choosing a rental company