Blog #2: Booking a vehicle

ogAfter we booked our ticket we gathered the options we had to make a round trip in New Zealand. Important note: I can strongly recommend to arrange your own vehicle and go see the whole country.

In this blog I will walk you through the pro’s and con’s we considered in our search for THE perfect way to move around, including some advice looking back on our trip. Actually there are two phases you go through; first you choose your type of vehicle and then you choose how to ‘own’ it.

Phase one; there are roughly three types of vehicles we explored:

  • By car
  • By campervan
  • By camper

The car has the advantage that it is the fastest way to move around and probably the most aerodynamic vehicle of the three. When we were in New Zealand we coped with strong winds and heavy rain. Depending on the type of car it also might be the best vehicle for riding gravel roads (e.g. the road to Nugget Point) and steep mountain passes. The downside of the car is that you cannot stay overnight in the middle of nowhere, gazing stars, unless you got a tent with you. It is more expensive when you stay in (air)B&B’s and hotels/motels.

The campervan has the advantage that you always have your house with you! New Zealand has a lot of camping spots, among which also a lot of free camping sites, this gives you the feeling of ultimate freedom. Another advantage is that you can make your own meals and you’re not dependent of the grocery store for a few days. Furthermore it is the cheapest option of the three. A disadvantage is that most campervans are not self-contained, which means you cannot stay on free camping sites without a (public) toilet. Second, if you are with three persons or more or with someone else than your lover, it can become a bit (too) cosy after two weeks. And the older campervans are not ferrari’s; keep in mind that the maximum speed of these vans is about 90 km p/h, also caused by the NZ roads and weather.

The camper I’m talking about is the real 9-metres-long camper. The camper is the upgrade of the campervan. It has the same advantages and more. It is self-contained; with a toilet and sometimes even with a shower and it is big enough for the average family. Too bad it is also twice as expensive as the campervan during the high season. The toilet has also a downside, literally, if you know what I mean… Sometimes campers are too big to drive the smaller coastal roads and access camping sites with steep ramps.

When you made up your mind, you can pursue to the second phase: hiring or buying? Hiring is quite expensive. When your travel exceeds the 4 weeks it is worthwhile exploring the option of buying a vehicle. There are special marketplaces in the bigger cities for selling and buying vehicles, which can save a lot of money. Take into account that you will lose a few days on the market, or consider it part of your trip, and there are risks involved that you should consider before buying; what if you do not find the vehicle of your choice? What if the vehicle is total-loss after 2 weeks? What if you don’t find a new buyer?

With hiring you redeem these risks, but as said, it is expensive.

Tip: The high season is between Christmas and mid-February. Consider travelling in mid-season, mid-February and onwards, for still enjoying the nice weather and better rents.

To get a feeling of the rents by taking a look at https://www.rankers.co.nz it’s a sort of tendering site for the bigger rental companies. You can fill out your preferences and they will send their quotes. After that you can google for the smaller companies.

After weighing all the cons and pros we booked a (pimped!) campervan at ‘Sweet as campers’.

Some tips:

  • Try to negotiate, e.g. you have to pay extra for some additional stuff, like camping seats and a lower insurance deductible, go for an ‘all-inclusive’
  • Look at the facilities of the vehicle; a fridge is recommended! This is a sign that it probably also has a power socket.
  • Be aware of the transmission; automatic or manual (left-hand traffic).
  • Diesel seems to be cheaper, but you have to pay taxes afterwards, which makes the price difference between petrol and diesel almost negligible.
  • Dropping your camper elsewhere than where you collected it is possible at additional costs. Most people travel from North to South, travelling the other way around can be a bit cheaper.

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