I’ve spent weeks and weeks meticulously researching, planning and most recently *finally* booking our luxury motorhome hire New Zealand – hurrah!
It’s been an extensive process, so I’ve pulled together all the blog posts, travel guides and various website information to help you discover the best motorhome hire in New Zealand, how to get a great price and how to decide on which luxury motorhome rental. I’m basically trying to save you all the hard work!
Step-by-Step Guide to Hire a Motorhome in New Zealand
1. Decide on a Campervan or Motorhome
So let’s start with the basics – the campervan and motorhome differences.
A campervan is a self-contained vehicle that you can both travel and sleep in. They’re typically smaller than a motorhome. The living area is usually the same as the sleeping area and more often than not, you can’t freely stand up in a campervan.
A motorhome is like the next step up from a campervan. They are bigger than campervans, usually offering a separate living space and better kitchen facilities. They have their own bathroom, making it ‘self-contained’. And so, if you’re looking for an adventurous, luxury holiday in New Zealand a motorhome is the way forward.
Recommended reading: The Cost of Our Family Trip to New Zealand
2. Choose a Luxury Motorhome Size
You’ll need to decide on a motorhome size, which sounds simple, but it’s quite tricky if you’re new to this sort of travel.
You’ll hear the term ‘berth’ a lot. ‘4-berth motorhome’ or ‘5-berth motorhome’ etc. Berth is basically referring to the number of beds. So, a 4-berth motorhome sleeps four people and a 6-berth motorhome hire would mean it sleeps up to 6 people.
However, they’re not all created equal. You could have a 4-berth motorhome that’s actually bigger in size than a 5-berth. It might be 7.4 metres long, rather than 7 metres, for example. So, if you’re worried about driving a big vehicle bear this in mind.
Decide on how many beds you need and go from there. Also, consider that although the motorhome may sleep, say 6 people, the size and quality of bed may be different. Some fold out using existing seating to create a bed, whilst others are fixed mattresses (i.e. a lot more comfortable).
Also consider how many travelling seats you need. Some motorhomes are listed as a 4-berth which would lead you to believe they’re suitable for four people. However, they might only have two travelling seats, which simply means two seats with seatbelts. It’s a legal requirement to wear a belt, so yeah, watch out for that.
Top Tip: If you’re struggling to grasp the sort of size of motorhome that would suit your trip, head to a local motorhome showroom or motorhome show (like the one at the NEC).
I may have pretended to be in the early stages of buying one so that I could get a little look inside a 5-berth and a 6-berth motorhome. The sales guy actually did a great job because not only did he give me lots of things to look out for and tips, he also convinced me to buy one!
Recommended reading: The Ultimate Packing List for Young Families
3. The Best Luxury Motorhome Sites in New Zealand
There are loads of motorhome sites, some geared more to couples (i.e. smaller vehicles), some aimed at budget travellers (i.e. older vehicles or less fancy gadgets to keep costs down) and some aimed at the luxury market (i.e. people who have a bit more money to spend or those who want a few more conveniences). Some motorhome sites try to cater all.
In my opinion, based on trawling reviews and various guides there are probably six or so luxury motorhome sites in New Zealand:
1. Kiwi Motorhomes
Kiwi Motorhomes. Pick-up/Drop-off in Auckland or Christchurch.
Kiwi Motorhomes are relatively new to the scene in motorhome rentals New Zealand. Family-owned, they have a fleet of premium motorhomes ranging from 4-6-berth campers.
What sets them apart from the other luxury motorhome sites is firstly, their customer service. They offer the opportunity to contact them 24/7. They’re knowledgeable, friendly and fair. I asked loads of questions, to-ing and fro-ing, and they have been very accommodating.
Secondly, they include a tonne of extras for free. This includes things like baby/booster seats, games, DVDs, camping equipment, bikes etc. Think of it as luxury perks without the price tag.
I’ve booked with Kiwi Motorhomes as they offered us a great motorhome that works for our family, travel-style and budget; affordable luxury motorhome hire New Zealand.
We’re travelling as a family of four (two adults, 2 year old and 4 year old) for just under three weeks in March in a 5-berth motorhome for $5,600 NZD (c. £2,800).
Top tip: Feel confident in negotiating and tweaking your quote.
I was offered a pay per X amount of kilometres deal and managed to swap it for an ‘unlimited kilometres’ package (more on this later) for the same price.
Iconic Motorhomes. Pick-up/Drop-off in Auckland or Christchurch.
An award-winning, luxury motorhome rental company, Iconic Motorhomes specialise in outstanding customer service and offer a premium fleet.
Unlike many other motorhome sites, you can actually get a quote straight away via their website. You don’t have to submit a form and wait for an email to arrive.
I was quoted $5,925 NZD for the 4-berth Escape (one of their cheaper vehicles) for 2.5 weeks in March. The motorhome looked lovely, with bunkbeds for the kids and a double for Jay and I.
If you’re looking for luxury motorhome hire New Zealand I’d definitely recommend seeking a quote.
3. Sunrise Holidays
Sunrise Holidays. Pick-up/Drop-off in Auckland or Christchurch.
If you like that boutique kind of touch, you’ll probably like the luxury feel of Sunrise Holidays. Their campervans (which are more like motorhomes) are named after native birds in New Zealand.
Ranging from 2-6-berth motorhomes, their small fleet is stylish and practical. You’ll have to email for a quote. Mine came through within 24 hours.
4. Wilderness Motorhomes
Wilderness Motorhomes. Pick-up/Drop-off in Auckland or Christchurch.
Wilderness Motorhomes are a family-owned company who specialise in luxury motorhomes in New Zealand. Choose from 12 beautiful vans, ranging in size and facilities. If you’re unsure what sort of motorhome would best suit you, they have a handy tool on their site to help you choose based on a quiz .
Their starting prices were more than our generous top budget. For a bit of perspective, we’re travelling for 2.5 weeks in March and need a motorhome for two adults and two children. The cheapest motorhome I was offered was $6,714 NZD (c. £3,328).
Britz. Pick-up/Drop-off in Auckland, Christchurch or Queenstown.
Britz offer affordable luxury, so if you like the nicer things in life but don’t want to spend as much it’s worth getting a quote. They have lots of motorhomes from 2-6-berth. For a 4-berth cruiser I was quoted $5,872 NZD (£2,910).
I almost booked with them, but after reading lots of reviews I was worried it was gamble. Tales of 4-hour waits to collect the motorhome and shaky customer service put me off. Admittedly, Britz are hugely popular with loads of customers and naturally when more people use your service you’re going to get some hiccups. They were plenty of good reviews too, but I didn’t want to risk our once in a lifetime trip.
Maui. Pick-up/Drop-off in Auckland, Christchurch or Queenstown.
Maui are part of the same brand as Britz campervan hire in New Zealand. Maui offer luxury motorhomes. Their vehicles have stylish interiors and spacious designs. And their prices reflect that.
Offering 2-6-berth motorhomes, Maui have a wealth of information on their website to help you on your way.
Recommended reading: Useful Tips for Road Trips With Kids
The Cost of Motorhome Hire in New Zealand
In New Zealand motorhome hire prices vary depending on:
- The motorhome hire company
- The time of year you travel
- The size of the motorhome (mainly how many beds)
But how much does it cost to rent a motorhome in New Zealand?! As a rough idea, based on a mid-high range motorhome expect to pay:
|Low Season (per day)||$70NZD (c.£34)||$80NZD (c.£40)||$125NZD (c.£62)|
|High Season (per day)||$150NZD (c.£74)||$410NZD (c.£202)||$450NZD (c.£222)|
There are also a number of other costs to factor into your motorhome rental budget, so the true cost of luxury motorhome hire is made up of the following:
1. The Motorhome Hire
So the amount the hire company will charge you to effectively borrow the vehicle. Usually charged per day. You can see example prices under each of the motorhome sites listed in the above section.
2. Extra Equipment and Gadgets
You’ll find a lot of firms charge a fee for GPS, baby seats, camping chairs, wifi etc etc. Some charge for each item – around $50-75 NZD (c. £25-$35) per item seems to be the norm – and some charge a bundle price to include a few or all of the extras.
Kiwi Motorhomes wins at luxury motorhome hire because it includes loads of extras for free.
3. Pick Up/Drop Off Charges
Some companies will charge an additional fee if you want a priority pick up/drop off slot. For example, a weekend or a morning pick up and a late drop off.
Some companies may include this for free or waive it as part of negotiations.
4. One-Way Fee
Looking for motorhome hire in Auckland but want to drop your vehicle off in Christchurch? Expect to be charged a one-way fee. This normally costs around $250-300 NZD (c. £125-£200).
Some rental firms will waive this fee or reduce it as part of hire negotiations. Our motorhome hire is from Auckland, but we’re dropping off in Christchurch. I’ve managed to negotiate a reduced fee as part of our package.
Top tip: Check transfercar who offer free or super, super cheap deals on vehicles that need ‘relocating’, for example driving one from Christchurch to Auckland. If you’re flexible with your dates you could get a bargain motorhome rental.
5. Dump and Run Charge
Think of this one as a convenience charge. For a nominal fee, usually around $300 NZD (c.£150), you can hand your motorhome back without having to refill the tank or to empty the waste boxes.
6. Road User Charge Recovery Fee
This is a government tax on vehicles that is paid per 1000 kilometres. The fee is around $7–10 NZD (c. £3-5) per 100 kilometres depending on the size of the vehicle.
The hire company usually pay it in advance and then pass the cost to you. Some firms may soak up the fee in the hire price.
7. Fuel Costs in New Zealand
Expect to pay around $2.20 NZD (c.£1.08) per litre for petrol and $1.65 NZD (c.81p) per litre for diesel.
Top tip: Petrol is usually more expensive at the pump, but unlike diesel, does not get taxed afterwards.
8. Kilometre Charge
When you rent a motorhome in New Zealand you can choose from an ‘unlimited kilometres’ package or ‘pay per X kilometres’.
With the latter, you’ll pay a pre-agreed fee for each number of kilometres you drive. The mileage display will be read before and after your trip to keep track of the distance you’ve covered.
Many of the roads in New Zealand are one way and it’s not uncommon for the weather to cause a diversion. You may think your journey will only take X number of KMs, but it could be much more. Similarly, if you like to live a little spontaneously and detour for photos or new recommendations, you may find the route soon adds up.
Unlimited kilometres is what it says on the tin. You won’t have an extra fee to pay based on how far you drive. There’s no cap.
This is what I’ve opted for. The original quote didn’t include unlimited kilometres, but I managed to negotiate it in for the same price.
9. Motorhome Insurance
Luxury motorhome insurance varies from standard insurance to a more comprehensive package.
Make sure you check the excess for each quote you receive. This is the amount you’d have to pay in the unfortunate event of an accident. The excess on the quotes for the luxury motorhome sites mentioned above ranged from $5,000 NZD (c.£2,457) to $7,500 NZD (c.£3,686).
Firms usually offer the chance to bring that excess down to nil and/or to take out a more thorough policy for an additional fee.
10. Motorhome Parking in New Zealand
You have a few choices; freedom camping (designated free sites to park/camp), Campable (like Airbnb, but for camping) and holiday parks (places where you can book a ‘pitch’).
Apart from freedom camping, you’ll need to budget some money to pay for each night.
Also, be a realistic. Are you going to be happy sleeping in your motorhome for the full duration of your trip or are you going to want to break it up with some hotel or apartment stays?
If the latter, I’d opt to do those in lesser known cities/towns to keep costs down. If you want to keep the luxury vibe check out some of the stunning apartments on Airbnb. There are some super dreamy ones and if you use that link you’ll receive a £25 discount.
Top tip: Use promo code CAMPWELCOME to receive a 5% discount at Campable.
Recommended reading: Road Tripping in California
Price Tips for Motorhomes Hire New Zealand
If you’re on a budget, but still want to hire a luxury motorhome in New Zealand there are ways you can make it cheaper:
1. Travel in Shoulder Seasons or Off-Peak
Travelling in the shoulder seasons means less crowds and lower prices.
The shoulder seasons in New Zealand are March-May and September-November. June-August is considered as an off-peak period.
Peak-season in New Zealand is considered to be December-February. This is when the prices go up and the crowds appear.
2. Rent for a Longer Period
Many hire companies give a discount for a longer hire period. I upped our hire period by one day and it dropped the price by $200NZD (c. £98). A longer trip for less money? Yes, please!
3. Book Early
Many motorhomes get booked up at least three months in advance. Sure, you may get a cheaper one if you book a last minute deal, but you won’t have as much to choose from. This is particularly true if you want to use a smaller, family-owned company.
I booked four-months in advance and narrowly missed out on our first choice motorhome. The prices also increased during the month I was getting quotes (despite clearing the cache), so book as soon as you can.
4. Look for Promo Codes
Check places like Rankers, Facebook and Instagram for discount codes.
Use promo code CAMPWELCOME to receive a 5% discount at Campable.
Use this Airbnb promo code to get £25 off your booking.
Make a spreadsheet so you can compare the prices of four-five motorhome rental sites and what they include (e.g. excess cost, extras that you need, KMs, additional charges etc). This will let you see the true cost and then you can (politely!) negotiate with the firm.
There’s no harm at all in asking for a discount or being honest if you’re near the top of your budget. I managed to negotiate an unlimited kilometres package, no cleaning fee and a reduced one-way fee.
6. Go for an Older Model
If you’re not willing to compromise on size, you’ll often find an older model is cheaper.
7. Start in Christchurch
Most visitors start their New Zealand road trip in Auckland and finish in Christchurch. Those vehicles need to make it back up to Auckland, so if you can start in Christchurch you’ll usually get a cheaper price.
New Zealand With Kids
We’re embarking on a family motorhome trip in New Zealand, with our 2 year old and 4 year old. If you’re also travelling by motorhome with kids, consider the following:
1. The Kid Bed(s)
Some motorhome beds are high, so look out for vans that have a safety net that can be utilised for children (like Jordy at Kiwi Motorhomes).
Also have a real think about what your trip will look like. If you’re planning to arrive at locations very late in the day you may want to consider a motorhome that has fixed beds or at least beds that can be left made-up. Faffing about to make a bed is not ideal with an over-tired toddler on your hip.
2. The Kid Seats
Look at where the children will sit whilst your driving. Children aren’t allowed to sit on the front passenger seats and under two year olds need to sit rearwards. I chose a van where the children’s seats are directly behind the front ones, so I’ll be able to reach them, see them etc which is reassuring for all of us. It’s a legal requirement for all to wear seatbelts.
Like I said earlier, also ensure the motorhome you’re looking at has enough ‘travelling seats’. It may be a 4-berth, which sleeps four people, but that doesn’t mean it will automatically have seatbelted seats for four people.
3. Baby Seats and Boosters
Most firms I looked at had availability for baby seats and booster seats, but make sure you check (and pre-book). Some firms will charge a fee – ranges from a flat one-off fee to a daily charge – and some include them for free.
4. Entertainment for Children
Some firms, again like Kiwi Motorhomes, include DVDs, games and books for free. This is super helpful if you’re travelling with little ones.
5. Bathroom Facilities
Some motorhomes have a separate shower and toilet. Others have them crammed together in one room with a flimsy shower curtain that means the loo will likely get wet after every shower.
Some have push button flushable toilets where the waste disappears into a waste box. Others are more like a ‘potty’.
Most luxury motorhomes will have a fully functional bathroom, so it’s just a case of choosing if you want the toilet and shower together or separate. The vehicle I’ve booked has separate ones.
Top tip: Kiwi Motorhomes let you book a particular motorhome, whereas others like Britz offer you a motorhome type that could have three (very different) layouts and don’t allow you to request a particular one.
6. It’s Probably More Expensive Than Hotels
When I totted up the cost of our motorhome trip against staying in hotels and apartments it worked out slightly more expensive. However, we’re paying for convenience, which is worth its weight in gold when it comes to family travel.
We will be in a new location nearly every day. If we stayed in hotels we’d have to faff about with check-in and check-out times, trying to juggle them with when we’d arrive or leave. We’d also have to lug the suitcases in and out each time.
Travelling by motorhome just gives us so much more flexibility and convenience.
And there you have it. Everything I know so far! If you’ve got any questions just drop me a line. I’d be more than happy to help and of course, I’ll be uploading lots more New Zealand posts once we’re back.
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