Hiring a Motorhome from a Private Owner versus a Rental Operator

Hiring a Motorhome from a Private Owner versus a Rental Operator

Rental operator handing motorhome keys to a guest


Planning to hire a motorhome for your upcoming trip around New Zealand? Besides looking into the websites of a few rental companies, you may have also noticed sites offering private RV hires.

But what are the differences between hiring from an established rental operator and a private hirer? In this blog, we look a little deeper into both options — from availability to customer service and on-road support to insurance, cost and quality.

How a private campervan hire in New Zealand works

A campervan owned by private owner


Hiring a private campervan rental in New Zealand can be compared to hiring a mobile Airbnb. Certain platforms like Camplify list the recreational vehicles of private owners on their sites for a charge.

These online platforms will likely get more customers if they can offer more motorhomes for hire on their sites. Most of the RVs on these types of websites belong to private people — though smaller rental companies with tiny fleets may also use them occasionally.

How a motorhome rental operator works

Wilderness Motorhomes Rental Fleet

Motorhome rental operators are businesses that hire out their RVs to travellers. They’ll typically have a fleet of motorhomes or campervans. Within their fleet will be a few different categories, or sizes, of vehicles — allowing potential customers some options.

Unlike private owners, rental companies usually have their own:

  • Website — to attract potential customers from all over the world
  • Customer service team — to help them deliver a total package of excellent product and service
  • Workshop crew — to take care of most repairs, maintenance and upkeep on their vehicles.

Motorhome in a workshop for maintenance


Rental operators may market their motorhomes through their own channels. However, some choose to also hire out their RVs through traditional or online travel agents.

Read our ultimate guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand.

Pros of renting a motorhome through a private owner

Hiring a motorhome through a private owner offers different advantages compared to going through a rental company.


Wide variety of motorhomes

The first thing you’ll probably notice on a peer-to-peer sharing service like Camplify is the large variety of different motorhomes and campervans available. You can expect to find RVs of varying ages and sizes — with a diverse range of layouts, interior designs and specifications.

Wide variety of campervan sizes from private owners


If you want to spend time browsing an incredible range of recreational vehicles to find the one that suits your travel group best, consider hiring through such a platform.

How to determine quality

The quality of a private owner’s individual motorhome is understandably linked to how well the owner looks after it.

Ideally, you’d be able to talk to the owner before deciding to rent their motorhome. But if the owner lists on a sharing community site like Camplify, it’s easier said than done. However, like Airbnb, some platforms let past guests rate their experiences so be sure to check individual owner reviews if they’re available.


More pick up options

Private campervan owners are scattered all across the country so you won’t necessarily have to be in a main centre to pick up and drop off your RV. After organising your recreational vehicle and the pick up date, you’ll meet the private owner at a designated location.


One-way rentals unlikely

Deciding to hire a motorhome from a private owner will give you pick up options outside of the main cities. However, you’ll probably also need to drop it off in the same location.

One-way hires are most likely not possible — as individual owners won’t want to have to collect their RV from elsewhere in the country. In saying that, check the online listings to see if any private owners offer a one-way rental option.


Service is personal

You’ll be dealing directly with the owner of the motorhome you intend to hire, meaning you’ll receive their personal service — which could be exceptional, hopeless or anything in between.


Motorhome owner handing keys


It’s important to gauge a feeling early on as to whether you can trust this person. After all, they’ll be your go-to if there are any issues with your motorhome hire.


Service comes down to the owner

If you decide to hire a motorhome from a private owner, you’ll most likely go through a camper sharing platform like Camplify. The platform will confirm your reservation — but then, the quality of the service you receive depends heavily on the actual owner.

You may find that the owner:

  • Takes a hands-off approach — offering minimal time and assistance before giving you the keys
  • May not be available to help resolve issues — with the motorhome’s equipment like the fridge or heater system which are the most common onboard items that need troubleshooting.


Bargains may be available

Private owners don’t have the same level of pricing experience as rental companies. They set their own prices on whichever sharing platform they choose to use. You’ll probably notice a wide range of prices — some more expensive and others cheaper than the hire companies.


A motorhome owned by private owner

With regular browsing you’ll get an idea of pricing and may be able to grab a bargain.


Advantages of hiring a motorhome through a rental operator

Most people who want to hire a motorhome will do so through a rental company — expecting a well-maintained vehicle, professional service and on-road support.


Reliably consistent

Uniformity can be common amongst rental operators with the ultimate aim of delivering a consistent product for their new and repeat customers. Expect to be able to choose between a few models that fit the number of travellers you have — and your ideal sleeping situation. 

Twin Bed Option in a Wilderness Motorhome


Many rental companies offer motorhomes that are all from the same manufacturer, built in the same factory to consistent standards so they perform equally well. You’ll want to choose a rental operator that keeps parts on-hand, to address any unexpected issues that may crop up.


Determining quality standards can be simple

You’ll find it a lot easier to ascertain the quality standards of various rental companies than you will the quality standards of individual private owners. There’s simply more online information available about each rental operator.

Premium quality standard of a Wilderness motorhome


Often, the company itself reflects the quality standards. And if you’re considering a more premium motorhome hire company, you should expect a higher standard of vehicle maintenance, cleanliness and overall quality.

Be sure to check the Qualmark and sustainable tourism ratings of any New Zealand rental operator along with their customer reviews.


Customer service is reflected in reviews


Reputable motorhome rental operators may just have a single contact phone number. You can call this number with any questions you need answers for, including about:

  • Booking — for help securing the right dates and motorhome model
  • Picking up and dropping off — like requesting a transfer from the airport to the rental operator’s base
  • Pre-arrival assistance — to clarify what you need to bring to the depot to pick up your RV without any delays
  • On-road support — in case something isn’t working as it should.

Customer service at Wilderness Motorhome


About a third of all motorhome renters will call on-road support at some time during their hire for assistance with resolving an issue. A premium motorhome rental operator will often set themselves apart from the competition by delivering superior customer service.

To get an idea of what a campervan rental company’s service will be like, read what previous renters have to say in their online customer reviews.

On-road support is common

Expect to receive on-road support if you hire a motorhome from a rental company. Compare this to hiring from a private owner — where minimal support is most likely.

Read the rental operator’s terms concerning roadside assistance to understand what support will be available for you and your motorhome if there are any problems. Find out if the rental agreement:

  • Includes 24-hour roadside assistance
  • Offers a towing service — if the problem can’t be fixed on the side of the road
  • Has any specific exclusions or issues not covered.

Onroad support from Wilderness Motorhome


New Zealand motorhome rental operators typically provide more comprehensive assistance when you’re on the road than private owners. This is primarily due to wanting their customers to enjoy a positive travel experience.

Get more information on motorhome rental companies’ terms and conditions.

The ease of resolving breakdowns

A serious breakdown issue will most certainly be simpler to sort out if you book with a reliable rental operator rather than a private owner.

Should your motorhome be damaged to the point where it can’t be driven anymore, some rental companies will do their best to find a replacement vehicle for you. If you hired through a private owner, it’s highly unlikely a replacement vehicle can be found — as the owner will usually only have one RV.


Proximity to main airports

You’ll find that almost all motorhome and campervan rental operators in New Zealand have their main locations in Auckland and Christchurch — very close to those city’s international airports.

Some companies may also have depots in other popular New Zealand cities like Queenstown and Wellington.


One-way rentals are an option

Rental operators with depots in Auckland, Christchurch and even Queenstown are set up to handle hires that begin in one city and end in another. Often, renting a motorhome one way will cost a fee — but this may not always be the case for premium brands.

Driving a Wilderness motorhome with a scenic background


Standard rental companies will either charge a flat fee or build it into their daily hire rate. If you’re flexible about travelling north to Auckland or south to Christchurch or Queenstown, be sure to look at the rental rates in both directions.

Read about the benefits of travelling one-way from Christchurch to Auckland

Insurance is often included

Unlike rental platforms for private owners, motorhome hire companies usually include their lowest insurance option in their base daily rental rate. Part of the reason for doing so is because insurance is mandatory anyway.

It’s then your decision as to whether you add liability reduction for greater financial protection in case there’s any damage to the motorhome.


Seasonal demand creates opportunities

A lot of tourism is seasonal and that’s no different when it comes to hiring a motorhome from a rental company. If you intend to travel over a peak holiday period, you’ll need to book well in advance to secure the motorhome you want.

On the other hand, if you plan to travel in the off-season, there’s an advantage in hiring from a company that’s highly seasonal. Check availability and prices in the middle of winter (and other times of low demand) and you’ll be more likely to find an available RV you want.


Hiring a motorhome during winter season

If you’re intending to hire a motorhome long-term, discuss this with the rental operators you’re considering as they may give you a lower daily rental rate.

Some rental companies offer discounted rates during their low season so ensure you keep checking their deals and special offers web pages.

Find out how much it costs to rent a motorhome.


Inclusions and exclusions can be significant

Each hire company will detail what’s included and excluded in the price of your motorhome rental. Some items may be add-ons while others can be charged as fees when you return the vehicle.

Hiring motorhome with add ons of camping table and chairs


When booking a motorhome through a rental operator, always go through the entire booking process (until the payment stage) so you can:

  • View all the inclusions
  • See if there are any cost increases — through add-ons, insurance and exclusions.

Some operators may have low base rental rates yet add on extra costs during the booking process.

Take a close look at premium motorhome inclusions, fees and add-ons.

Deciding to rent from an owner or an operator

You’ve now begun to weigh up the advantages of renting a motorhome from a private owner versus a rental operator. Which option will work best for you?

A motorhome parked at a campsite


Both have their clear pros and cons. If you need to pick up and drop off your motorhome hire in New Zealand’s largest cities, choose a rental company. If you want to focus on a region, consider hiring from a private owner in that area.

If you’re the type of person who likes a consistent standard and wants to know what to expect, a rental company campervan or motorhome is probably best. Alternatively, if you enjoy surprises and novel items, perhaps go private.



Download our motorhome hire decision infographic for a visual representation that will help you determine which type of hirer to choose.



motorhoming in NZ choosing a rental company