New Zealand Car Rental – The Complete Guide

PUBLISHED ON Jan, 20 2023


Renting a car in New Zealand is a popular and common way to travel in New Zealand.
In fact, the independent traveler has two main options: buy or rent a car.

In this article we will deal with car rental only, and will discuss the options, advantages, disadvantages and recommendations.

New Zealand Car Rental Tips

First, it is important to understand that the car rental market in New Zealand is built on demand and supply, as in any free market. Dozens of different rental companies operate in New Zealand, offering different products at different price, luxury and maintenance levels.

Because New Zealand’s public transportation is underdeveloped, the car market has developed greatly and now dominates most travelers who come for a trip to New Zealand.

The important parameters when talking about car rental in New Zealand mainly refer to price, but we will also consider comfort when going into detail about the types of major vehicles.

It is clear that renting a car might not be cheap, and in this article we will discuss the dilemma between price and time and peace of mind.

This is a subjective article in part, as each traveler has different preferences and habits, but we will try to be present the mainstream to outline the full picture regarding the car rental dilemma in New Zealand.

The Parameters of Car Rental in New Zealand

Vehicle Price

Vehicle prices vary depending on the period of the year and depending on the type of vehicle, its year of manufacture and equipment. The Christmas period and Christian holidays are the most expensive time of the year, and even the cheapest car price in the fleet of vehicles can skyrocket.
In addition, the shorter the rental period, the more expensive the car price per day will be.
When talking about car rental price, it is important to pay attention to the bottom line and not just the starting price.
The price of the vehicle includes the base price, but it is advisable to add additional parameters such as insurance and cancellation of deductibles, road service, ferry and extensions (GPS, awning, etc.).

Return at Another Destination

We can also link this to the former paragraph, but it is important to know that there are companies that charge an extra fee for return at another destination.
Sometimes it will be better to plan a route with a return to the same destination to avoid a fee for returning to another destination, but this is not a reason to change the whole plan drastically.
Our recommendation would be to use the services of companies that do not penalize return in another destination.

Rental Car Insurance in New-Zealand

When you rent a vehicle in New Zealand, most rental companies will include rental car insurance / CDW as part of the rental price. It is always recommend taking out insurance that cancels deductibles – there is no price for peace of mind, and making the best use of time is just as important as money.
In addition, one accident and all the money spent on repairs may be equal to the price of insurance, to which we add the mental anguish and stress.
CarInsuRent car hire excess waiver insurance is recommended, but keep in mind that the process of reimbursement and the treatment itself may be more complex than insurance through the rental company.
As already stated, there is a consideration of time and peace of mind versus money. Our Australia Car Hire Excess Insurance offer the best car rental excess insurance for New Zealand, as it saves you money and provide piece of mind. If you are planning a long trip, we recommend that you take an annual car hire excess insurance, which is cheaper then taking a 14 days SCDW from the rental company.

When you pick up the rented vehicle, it is highly recommended to inspect the vehicle, take photos of its condition and mark any existing bumps or dents on the rental agreement to avoid charges for hidden damage.

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Inspecting a rental car


It is important to check the reputation of the rental company. The car may be 20% cheaper, but the service provided by the rental company is under any criticism, and any malfunction will be an endless headache.
The dilemma of price versus convenience is reflected here as well, but those who do not want to take unnecessary risks, will do their homework as an outstanding student.
In this case, there is no doubt that it is worth removing worry and knowing that the issue of car rental is in good hands. When traveling to a destination like New Zealand, which for the most part is a once-in-a-lifetime destination, the consideration of time and peace of mind takes on central significance.

The Seasons

We’ve indicated this in the 1st section, but it is important to clarify this in a separate section.
The busiest months in New Zealand are December-January.
This is the period when prices in New Zealand are out of proportion, but demand also exceeds supply.
In contrast, a trip outside the peak months entails attractive prices and significant discounts.
A traveler who rents a car in New Zealand during the transition months can get a price that is 30% lower than the peak months.
It is of course not wise to take a car for half price in the winter months, but even a little out of season it is possible to reduce the cost of renting a car significantly.


As we mentioned above, reputation is an important parameter.
How important is it? Rental companies will put a lot of effort into justifying it.
New Zealand car rental companies are mostly committed to a high standard, so each vehicle undergoes a comprehensive inspection before setting off.
Most companies own their own garages and collaborate with other garages across New Zealand to ensure that the vehicle is cared for and maintained even on the road (and to that end it is worth buying insurance…)
In this aspect, car rental in New Zealand is a winning card in statistical terms, probably compared to buying.


This takes us back to the main dilemma – time or money?
When renting a car, the rental time is net.
It is not necessary to check the vehicle in an unusual way, but to put the key in the switch and drive.
Same thing when returning – the process takes a few minutes and you can continue to the next destination.
For those who are looking for maximum comfort and time utilization – this is a critical section.

So far the parameters that make up the car rental in New Zealand, with the other aspect being of course the different types of vehicles offered for rent, which we will talk about in the next paragraph.

Types of Vehicles for Rent

Private Car

A compact, family car, small jeep or minivan intended solely for driving.
The vehicle is not intended for accommodation and is intended to bring travelers from place to place only.
These vehicles are usually a preferred option by travelers who want to stay in “standard” accommodation, ie hotels or hostels.
However, there are travelers (mostly backpackers) who would prefer to take a private car and look for cheap accommodation options (tent, home accommodation) and thus benefit Twice – relatively low price of the vehicle and basic accommodation price.

Private vehicles are more comfortable to drive due to their size, and their fuel consumption is also usually more economical.
This of course does not apply to jeeps or minivans, but when compared to other types of vehicles (we will talk about in the following sections), there is some savings in current expenses.

A private car may not be suitable for travelers whose nature of the trip is more spontaneous or for families with young children who do not want to move all the equipment every day from the vehicle to the place of accommodation.
However, each trip should be taken into account specifically, so this is an inclusive hypothesis.

Renting a private car in New Zealand


A camper van is a vehicle suitable for all types of travelers – you can find a relatively old camper van (up to 7 years old) suitable for backpackers, and on the other hand a luxurious and modern camper van that costs significantly higher.
The main advantage of the camper van is of course the possibility to stay in it comfortably, and still drive comfortably.
It is not too long, usually not cumbersome, and its fuel consumption is also reasonable in most cases.
It can be cooked and eaten inside and it serves as a compact house.

Renting a Campervan in New Zealand

The trip in the camper van allows flexibility in choosing accommodation, and these are powerful vehicles that can cross obstacles or travel on steep roads.
Roads in New Zealand are winding and even tend to be dangerous – driving in a camper van gives a sense of security to the driver and passengers who sit high and see the road clearly.

Campervan Interior


A trailer is a mobile home for everything, with a toilet and shower and all the equipment needed for a trip through it.
Although this is not a luxurious 3-room apartment, the standard length of a trailer is 7.7 meters, which allows for a spark of personal space.
The trailer is equipped with every good, and can be found in a relatively wide range of years, for the benefit of those who are not interested in investing all their savings in it.
A motorhome will usually be suitable for couples looking for all the comforts in one place or for families with children. The
option to manage the entire household and the course of the trip in one place without leaving it, are a crucial and important parameter in choosing the trailer.

Renting a motorhome in New Zealand

Although the motorhome is a bit cumbersome, has problematic fuel consumption and is more reminiscent of a truck than a car, its ‘Self Contained’ sticker (every trailer has one) allows maximum flexibility in choosing accommodation.

The motorhome is without a doubt an ideal choice for budget owners looking for flexibility and a trip character that requires comfort and maximum consideration for personal needs.

We already discussed the importance of excess waiver insurance. We wish to advise you that CarInsuRent also offer campervan and motorhome hire excess insurance and you should simply choose this in the ‘vehicle type’ section when requesting a quote.

Campervan Hire Excess Insurance

New Zealand Car Rental Costs

The numbers lie, because it is an economy of supply and demand.
There is no one defined term and whoever writes absolute numbers, may mislead the renter when he comes to check the rental car that is affordable for him.

As we mentioned, it depends on the season.
The numbers can range from tens of dollars a day for a private car to hundreds of dollars a day for a motorhome.

The Important Parameter is the Timing of the Order

Vehicle prices are rising day by day, and as the time period approaches, supply is shrinking and price is rising accordingly.
This is of course not an absolute statistic, as one can always find last minute deals.
If you are a fairly spontaneous backpacker that any vehicle would be fine for them, fine. If you are traveling in a family setting or time constraints, you will not want to reach a state of default and compromise.

Rental companies sometimes offer discounts to pre-bookers (usually 3 months or more before the start of the rental) and this is usually the stage where the supply of vehicles is large, so you can choose the desired vehicle.

When renting a car, you should check carefully where the collection and return counters are located.
The cost of transportation to them is not negligible, especially when there are no counters in the city center and you have to cross it to get there.

Comparing Prices For Car Rental in New Zealand

We have a complete guide for renting a car abroad where we discuss  how to find cheap car rentals and save you hundreds of Dollars

The car rental indexes contain over 100 different vehicles, of all types. Using the comparison sites such as and you can choose the right vehicle and if necessary, consult with the team about its suitability.

Once the appropriate vehicle is selected, all that is left to do is submit an order form and receive a quote accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Renting a car in New Zealand is an uncomplicated process, if done right.
We will be happy to be of help and accompany you on an unforgettable once in a lifetime trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I buy a plan for just one day?

Yes. Insurance for a single day is available.

Can I buy a plan for part of my rental only?

No. We provide a single journey plan. You are covered from the time you pick up the rental car up to the time you return it or on the last date written on your Certificate of Insurance, whichever comes first.

Can I buy a plan when I pick up my rental car?

No. You should purchase a policy before starting your travel.

Find the answers you’re looking for to the most frequently asked car hire insurance questions as well as other questions relating to our products and services.

Visit the FAQ page