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Secrets to Saving Big on Car and Campervan Hire in New Zealand

Updated: May 23, 2022

The Secrets to Saving Big on Car and Campervan Hire

Travelling New Zealand by car or campervan gives you the ultimate freedom to go where you want, when you want, and allows you to truly tailor your trip to your needs. Seriously, check out the However, you will find that prices differ widely between car and campervan rental companies due to a variety of factors that we’ll go through in this article on how to save money on car rental in New Zealand.

All the little extras add up at the end of a road trip, making the difference between a huge road trip full of excitement and a cent-counting nightmare. Sometimes the cheapest option is not necessarily the best option.

So scroll down this list of awesome tips so you are well-prepared to compare your options and make the best decision for you

1. Travel in the Shoulder or Off Season

It’s obvious: in summer, everybody wants a camper but in winter, the demand is much lower. May is traditionally the cheapest month across the board. As well as car rentals being cheaper in the shoulder season, nature is all the more lively, and the crowds are in the Northern Hemisphere. Its literally like having the whole country to yourself! Book your car rental between March and October and you are likely to pay 30-50% less!

2. Book Early

This one comes as no surprise as well. Early bookings are often rewarded with early bird discount or simply a lower overall rate, while last-minute bookings suffer from the lack of stock and give you less choice for a higher price.

3. Book Direct

Start your new adventure the simple way and talk directly with your car rental company. Booking directly with a rental company as opposed to through an agent or a comparison website will ensure that you get the best rates that this company has to offer. This advice is true across the board from hostels, to activities to transportation methods

It is also better to take the insurance directly with the rental car company at the desk. This ensures no nightmares with paying the rental car company the excess and having to pled and pled with the insurance company to reimburse you.

This advice is true across the board from hostels, to activities to transportation methods

4. Play Around with Your Booking Dates

Sometimes there will be one or two days on either side of your preferred booking date that can double your bill. Make sure to play around your booking dates to find the best combo of dates that will make sense money-wise. Having flexible travel dates can make a real difference to your car rental cost. On the same note, we also advise you to look for rental and flight on the same day so you are flexible on both.

5. Pick the Right Pick-up and Drop-off Times

Some companies will charge for each extra hour that you keep the car, some will charge you for an extra day, and some will not consider the return hour in their pricing at all. This can make a big difference when picking up your car at 9am instead of 4pm or giving it back at 5pm instead of 10am. Make sure to consider this when comparing car and campervan rental companies

6. Pick Up Your Car Only When You are Ready to Drive Off

When arriving in New Zealand you’ll probably be jet-lagged or at least exhausted by the 20+ hours flight. Make sure to schedule your car pick-up for when you are ready to drive off, let’s say 11am the next morning. This can save you a day rental or at least a few hours with some companies.

It is better to be well rested when picking up your car especially if you drive on the opposite side of the road. Please visit and check the New Zealand road rules and requirements.

7. Monitor Pricing Regularly

Prices will vary depending on availability and some routes may even become much cheaper in some seasons. For instance, around the end of summer, most car and campervans have been dropped off on the South Island, so picking a route from south to north may save you a few hundred.

8.Watch Out for All the Upgrades

Solar showers, camping chairs, snow chains… all the upgrades come at high flat rates or extra daily costs. We recommend skipping them and buying your own from local stores like K-Mart or Warehouse. They should only set you back a fraction of the cost that a car rental company would charge you. You may even be able to sell them back

9 Remember to Refuel the Car

Like everywhere in the world, you will pick up a car full of fuel and should give it back full of fuel. Some rental car companies

In New Zealand have a policy of where it is at pick up is where you leave it on return. This is also a fair way of doing it as often full is not really full as the car has been driven to clean and service it without the needle showing a difference.

10.Do Not Fuel Up Your Car at the Airport

On the same note that as above when refuelling your car or simply when fuelling up along the way, make sure to avoid pump stations located near airports. Those are notorious for having the highest price tag, with some reports mentioning a difference of over 30%

11.Travel with Friends

A road trip is best enjoyed with a group of friends. Should it be your childhood best friends, the love of your life, or a perfect stranger, you are bound to create lifelong memories on the road with your travel buddies. Share adventures, laughs and (hopefully good) music along the most scenic roads of New Zealand while splitting the bills 2, 3 or even 4 ways so you can spend more on awesome adventures.

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