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Renting your own motorhome to travel around New Zealand is nothing short of amazing. Enjoying wide open roads, sleeping under the stars, enjoying fun activities, and witnessing some of the most magnificent views you’ll likely ever see – it’s no wonder that renting a motorhome in New Zealand is considered one of the best ways to travel the country.
I myself love road tripping around New Zealand. In fact, I’ve traveled around New Zealand countless times and enjoyed the freedom that came with having a motorhome. I ventured on road from Queenstown to Mount Cook, Te Anau to Milford Sound, around the Catlins, and even all the way through Northland. Without a doubt, I think that renting a motorhome is one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
But, the truth is that there is a lot you need to know about renting a motorhome in New Zealand before hitting the road. From picking the right motorhome to making sure you have the right insurance, you’ll need to know a lot before you set off. Don’t stress though, this guide has it all!
Why Rent a Motorhome in New Zealand
If you still haven’t decided that renting a motorhome in NZ is the way to go, let me help you understand why I personally think it is the BEST way to travel…
It’s more adventurous
In a motorhome, you have the complete freedom to explore as you choose! You aren’t limited by time restraints (like on a guided tour), or by bus and train routes. Go wherever you want whenever you want. It makes exploring New Zealand easy. I’ve learned that the best places to discover are a small detour off the main tourist trail, and with a motorhome, you don’t have to miss them!
New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world! No, seriously it was ranked the second safest in the world on the Global Peace Index. If you ever planned on renting a motorhome to go on a road trip, New Zealand is a safe place to do so!
It can actually save you money
Renting a motorhome has a huge upfront cost, however, once in New Zealand that motorhome can save you a ton of money. Instead of staying at hotels that cost upwards of $150 to $250 NZD per night you can stay in holiday parks, DOC campgrounds, or even freedom camp. Even the most expensive holiday parks cost less than $50 NZD per night and DOC campgrounds start at $15 NZD per adult. Over a 2 or 3 weeks trip, this will save you enough to make traveling in a motorhome the best option.
You’ll experience so much more
One of the best things about New Zealand is how stunningly beautiful it is. With a motorhome, you’ll spend more time in nature (versus staying in hotels in the city all of the time.) Some of the best days I’ve experienced in New Zealand were camping in the middle of nowhere watching the sunset with a glass of wine in hand. Ahh, the day’s road tripping around the South Island… simply magic!
These are just a few of the reasons road tripping around New Zealand in a motorhome is the way to travel. After so many amazing adventures I’m an advocate for motorhome travel in New Zealand!
Related Read: Renting a campervan or motorhome in Queenstown? Check out my blog about the best campervan rental companies in Queenstown.
How To Pick The Best Motorhome
Not all motorhome rentals in NZ are created equal. Sure, from the outside a lot of them look the same. But they aren’t.
There are some things you really need to look into and think about before you rent a motorhome in NZ. For me, it was about asking some simple questions beforehand and picking a motorhome suitable for my needs. Below are the most important deciding factors when renting a motorhome in New Zealand.
1. Your budget
Your budget will be one of the biggest deciding factors when renting a motorhome in New Zealand. For me, it’s almost always “ok what’s the best motorhome I can get for this price”. I bet I’m not alone on this either?!
But what does a motorhome rental in New Zealand cost? Well, this varies a lot! For a budget motorhome (more like a campervan) you can pick them up for around $150 NZD per day. For a mid-range motorhome expect to pay between $200 – $300 NZD per day and for a luxury motorhome you’re looking at around $400 NZD per day. These prices are for the summer season which is the most expensive time to rent a motorhome in NZ.
When it comes to searching for a motorhome with price in mind the best thing you can do is head to Motorhome Republic and just start searching. To do so, simply select the country, pick up and drop off dates as well as locations, and most importantly, the number of people you’re traveling with. When you find a motorhome you love you can add any extras you need such as tables, bikes, baby seats, etc, and get a quote.
Motorhome Republic doesn’t have an instant book option for motorhomes in New Zealand. Instead, you’ll need to fill out all your details and payment info and the request to book. From there you’ll be approved for the rental or put in contact with a sales rep who will work through other options if that exact one is not available. I’ve done it and it’s actually much easier than contacting several motorhome companies to get quotes.
2. How many people you’re traveling with
Motorhomes all advertise the number of “berths” they have. This is the number of people who can live and travel in the motorhome with.
You may be thinking, well we can just squish up and put my family of 6 in a 5-berth motorhome. But the catch is, berth also refers to the number of seat belts in the motorhome. Without them, it’s illegal to have another person in the motorhome while it’s moving! So if you’re traveling with 6 people you really need to get a 6 birth motorhome unless you have another form of transport such as a car.
Of course, having a “6-berth” doesn’t mean it comfortably has enough space for 6 adults. Often a 6 birth will include a queen, double, and two single beds. It’s comfortable for a young family but 6 adults would struggle.
The questions you need to ask yourself are: How many single/double beds are there? Do you have people that need their own beds or can the kids get along sleeping next to each other? How large are the two-person beds? Are they doubles or queens?
Not asking these questions before making a decision could make your trip much less enjoyable in terms of comfort in your living/sleeping space.
3. Level of comfort
We all have different ideas of the ideal road trip around New Zealand. Some of us (including me) might not mind renting an old motorhome with outdated features. To some, saving that little bit of extra cash is worth the sacrifice and instead, want more money to spend on their trip.
Others might want a more luxurious motorhome that includes the latest features to make life on the road rather luxurious. There’s no right or wrong way, it all depends on your budget and how you like to travel.
One thing people don’t think about is the bed! How comfy is it? Well, that’s very hard to tell before you sleep in it but generally speaking, the more luxurious and new the motorhome the better it will be. So if you’re a picky sleeper, it’s best to go with a premium motorhome. These have premium features on the inside – even though they look the same on the outside!
On Motorhome Republic you can actually search by age so you know exactly how long it’s been on the road. It’s a feature I love.
4. Self-contained Motorhome/standard
Most motorhomes in New Zealand will be “self-contained certified.” In short, this means the motorhome has been inspected to ensure it has certain features to make it eligible for freedom camping in NZ. Having this certificate gives you a lot more freedom especially if you plan on camping in wild campsites (freedom camping.)
If you want to know what freedom camping is check out this freedom camping guide.
You don’t need to worry about the certification, however, if you plan on freedom camping be sure to check your motorhome has the certification. On Motorhome Republic it’s noted in the description as one of the important features.
If you do plan on freedom camping use the apps Campermate or WikiCamps. These apps show where you can find freedom camping places as well as low-budget campgrounds. Of course, there are also plenty of holiday parks (campgrounds with nice facilities) located all around the country, and for these, you don’t need to be self-contained certified. Some of them are so nice they even have a pool! They do, however, come at a cost of usually $35-55 NZD per night.
5. Inclusions in Motorhome rentals
This is important not only when choosing your motorhome, but also when deciding what to pack! Some motorhomes come with all of the extras you could imagine, while others don’t come with much.
Things like bikes, outdoor tables and chairs, and even a GPS to safely navigate the roads. These all seem like simple items but they aren’t always included in your motorhome rental. On Motorhome Republic, it lists everything that’s included and you can even select add-ons at a cost. For example, an extra driver is usually $2 NZD a day, a picnic table $25 NZD for the trip and a baby seat is around $36 NZD.
Some of the things you’ll want to be included, are a picnic table, GPS, eater (for winter), outdoor chairs, electrical adaptors, books and games, bikes, and helmets. Some companies include these and below we recommend a company that does.
Related Read: Traveling the South Island in your motorhome? Then check out the 25 best places to visit on the South Island!
How Far in Advance to Book your Motorhome
How far in advance do I need to book my Motorhome? I get asked this question the most! The answer is more complicated than you may think so let me explain.
Obviously, the earlier you begin to look and book the more options you’ll have and it’s likely you’ll get a better price. To do so I would begin to look at least a year in advance. That doesn’t mean hitting the book button but just start to get quotes and keep looking on Motorhome Republic. When it comes to booking your motorhome I wouldn’t wait more than 8 months (10 months is better) before your trip especially if you plan on traveling in December or January.
You may think 6 months is fine, however, when you look at New Zealand’s short summer season you can begin to see why that’s not advised. The most popular months to travel are December, January, and February, or, the summer months. Anyone looking to rent a motorhome during this time is booking at least 6 months in advance, so, options begin to fade around the 8 to the 6-month mark.
Now there’s more to it. Remember people are renting motorhomes and picking up and dropping off in different locations. This makes getting the perfect booking you want even harder and hence why you should book before the summer rush. Seriously, getting the right motorhome, for the right dates, for the right pick-up and drop-off locations isn’t as easy as you think. The more time you allow, the easier it is.
Driving your Motorhome in New Zealand
Actually driving your motorhome in New Zealand may not seem like part of the renting process but it is. It’s another factor you need to consider very carefully. The reason? Well, can you drive a large 6 birth motorhome on windy single-lane roads and through cities, while also driving on a different side of the road? If the answer’s no, then rent a smaller motorhome, get an automatic, or practice at home first.
I’m not going to lie, driving a motorhome in New Zealand (like anywhere in the world) takes a little bit of patience. Because motorhomes are larger than normal cars you need to be especially careful and it stresses me out! Be aware of some of the rules before you go too. Below I’ve mentioned a few that caught me off guard when I first visited New Zealand:
- In New Zealand, you drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle.
- You cannot turn left at a red light after coming to a complete stop (like you can with right turns in the USA and Canada.)
- Speed limits are strongly enforced. You can get a speeding ticket for going as little as 4km/h over the posted speed limit and on some holidays from as little as 1km/h.
- Snow chains are sometimes required during the winter on particular roads.
- Some bridges are often one lane only. This means you need to watch for oncoming traffic and alternate.
- There are many one-lane highways (on the South Island particularly.) This means you need to overtake slower vehicles using the oncoming traffic lane. Use caution and never pass on blind corners!
Recommended Motorhome Rental Company
There are so many motorhome rental companies in New Zealand. To be honest I haven’t rented from them all. However, there are a few that stand out from the rest. I myself highly recommend hiring a motorhome from the company Kiwi Motorhomes! Why? Well, we have a few reasons that really make this company stand out to us above the rest:
- A small, family-run company with incredible customer service
- Tons of included luxury items
- 24/7 on-road assistance and support
- Solar power
- No kilometer charges, booking, or cleaning fees (others make you clean the you know what tank after your trip)
- Hot showers!
- Satellite TV
- Free airport pick-up/drop-offs
- A range of motorhome layouts and sizes to choose from
- Amazing reviews and tons of happy previous renters
On top of all that, they also include bike racks, 2 x mountain bikes (subject to availability), GPS, children’s car & booster seats, kids attachable bike seats, Kiwi Motorhomes welcome pack including a bottle of NZ premium wine, outdoor camp table & chairs, DVD’s, games & books, basic kitchen commodities, as well as all linen included in the daily motorhome rental rate!
Above all else though, it is the customer service that makes Kiwi Motorhomes stand out the most and the reason I have full confidence in recommending them to others. The best part is you can get a 5% discount by using the code DEST5 at checkout or in the email quote at any stage of the booking. If you want to check more reviews you can view them on Rankers NZ!
Other Motorhome Rental Companies
Just because we love Kiwi Motorhomes, doesn’t mean they are your only option. In fact, they mainly rent luxury motorhomes so budget travelers may want to look elsewhere. You should do a bit of research and choose the best company for YOU!
On Motorhome Republic you can see all the companies available in New Zealand but below are some of the most popular.
Maui is one of the largest motorhome rental companies in NZ offering a variety of styles for all budgets.
Britz is a highly recognizable company in New Zealand for motorhomes. They also offer larger campervans for the budget-conscious traveler.
Jucy is an international company who has a variety of rental vehicles available in NZ. They also own hostels, restaurants, and operate tours in which you can score a discount if you book with them.
Apollo is another larger company in NZ. They often have specials and discounts you can get on particular styles of motorhomes. Although basic, their motorhomes are affordable.
These guys are most appealing to budget travelers. There most common style of rental vehicle isn’t actually a motorhome, but rather a high-roof campervan.
Wendekreisen offers higher quality motorhomes and campers that have a few of the similar inclusions Kiwi Motorhomes does.
Epic Motorhome Road Trips in New Zealand
There are some amazing road trip routes you can tackle in New Zealand in your motorhome. Some of my favorite road trips on the South Island include:
- The Crown Range road – the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka
- Wanaka to Mount Cook
- Queenstown to Franz Josef (or Wanaka to Franz Josef)
- Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook
- The Catlins (Dunedin to Invercargill, or, even the drive from Queenstown to Dunedin via the Catlins.)
- Queenstown to Invercargill
- Arthur’s Pass – Most people drive this on a road trip from Christchurch to Hokitika
- The Road To Milford Sound – Both the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau and Queenstown to Milford are amazing
- The West Coast
- Queenstown to Christchurch via Mount Cook
- Queenstown to Lake Tekapo
On the North Island, you can also enjoy some pretty spectacular road trips while cruising in your motorhome. Some routes to check out include:
- Rotorua to Taupo
- Ninety Mile Beach
- Auckland to Paihia Beach
- Auckland to the Bay of Islands
- Pacific Coast Highway through the Coromandel Peninsula
Related Read: Check out all the fun things to do in Paihia!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually purchase it as soon as we land in the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Renting a motorhome in New Zealand can be a daunting process. It’s one very expensive purchase so getting it right is important. I hope this guide has made the process a little easier and maybe even stress-free?
Thanks so much for reading! if you loved this guide then be sure to check out more on My Queenstown Diary. I have so many blogs about New Zealand including road trips, Queenstown, Wanaka, hikes, and more! I’ve included some of my most popular ones down below, happy road tripping!