Cheap campervan hire New Zealand – What are my options?

The planning and organizing stage of a trip can be exciting, but it can also feel a little overwhelming. If you’re looking for cheap campervan hire New Zealand, don’t panic, I’ve got you covered. New Zealand is not a cheap country to travel, but thankfully there are some great budget options when it comes to campervans and motorhomes. In this article, I’ve done all the leg work for you. I’ve compared a variety of affordable rental campers from reputable companies, because ‘budget’ doesn’t have to mean crappy. Less cost and less drama equal more time and money for you to spend on the things that matter, having an incredible time in one of my favorite countries in the world. So buckle in and lets get comparing.

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First things first, if you already know what you’re looking for, then use the search box below to find it.

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If you’ve done your research on what you need and how to make your campervan rental cheaper, jump straight to comparing cheap campervan and motorhome rental in New Zealand.

Wanting more information? That’s ok, keep reading and hopefully it’ll become a lot clearer.

Before we get into comparing cheap campervan hire New Zealand there are a couple of things you need to decide.

  1. What do you need and want from a campervan?
  2. Where do you want to begin and end your road trip?

And finally,

3. How cheap is cheap and are you prepared to risk sacrificing quality and/or comfort to save a few extra dollars.

What do you want and need from a rental campervan in New Zealand?

This is actually a really important thing to understand before you hire a campervan. What do you want and need? What do you want to do with and in it. Where do you want to go with it?

Do you need a self contained camper?

One of the main things you need to decide is whether you want to go with a self contained campervan or not. Being self contained simply means that the campervan comes with a toilet. This toilet is what they call a cassette, and it’s really just a tiny thing that you need to empty out each day. That tiny toilet however, is the difference between whether you can freedom camp or not. It is illegal to use almost all freedom camping sites if you are not self contained because the sites do not have their own toilets.

If you’re still unsure about whether you need a self contained camper you can read our article here to find out more information.

Does size matter to you?

The smaller the campervan, the more affordable it will be, but the less likely it is to have room for a toilet and be self contained.

Another thing to consider is your comfort. For example, my partner Ben runs hot. He is always hot. Always. At night he needs space or he’s so hot he can’t sleep. For us, a small bed is difficult because he would lie awake every night over heating. He is a big guy and takes up a lot of room (he’s 6ft 2″). If I try to keep away from him in a small campervan, I’d be bundled up in the corner. I wouldn’t sleep either.

Consider your lifestyle and personal preferences

What kind of things are necessary for you? Do you want to cook your own meals? If you intend to do a lot of cooking you’re probably going to want at least 2 cook tops and a fridge. If you plan on eating out every night then a kitchenette is not important.

Think about your lifestyle and your preferences and look for a campervan or motorhome that aligns with your plans.

How long do you want to travel?

It’s also important to consider the length of time you have for your trip. Maybe you could sacrifice space and comfort for a week, but not for a month.

cheap campervan hire New Zealand

Where do you want to begin and end your road trip?

If you choose to start and/or end your road trip in Auckland or Christchurch, you’ll have access to a wider variety of companies that offer cheap campervan hire New Zealand.

Cheap campervan hire Auckland

Most people will fly into either Auckland or Christchurch and pick up their rental campervan in either city. The great thing about Auckland is that it has an enormous number of campervan rental companies. Most of these rental companies are close to the airport and some will offer a free shuttle to and from the airport.
If you’re flying a long distance however, take the first night to sleep and picking up your campervan the following morning so that you’re fresh and ready to go.

Choosing cheap campervan hire from Auckland also means that you may have the option of a one way trip. Many of the larger companies have offices in Christchurch as well. You may be able to drop your campervan off in Christchurch, rather than having to drive it back to Auckland.

If you’re only intending to travel the South Island, it makes more sense to fly into Christchurch and pick up your cheap campervan rental from there.

How cheap is cheap? What are you prepared to sacrifice?

This final question is as important as any other. In researching this article I have taken the liberty to assume that while you’re looking for affordable options, you’re also not wanting a sh*t bomb. Excuse the language. The reality is that like with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Do you want a camper in perfect working order that has no issues and runs smoothly the entire trip? Or, do you want one that has nothing but problems?

It’s important to remember that with a campervan, its not necessarily just the engine and getting from A to B. I mean yes, obviously, a campervan that breaks down is bad. But what happens if the fridge doesn’t work? Or the gas burners keep going out? If you hire an awning which has holes in it and rain gets through? If the fold out camping chair you paid extra for collapses as soon as you sit on it?

Look, stuff happens. Your well maintained car at home may randomly break down too. But with campervans that do thousands of kilometers, there are ways you can reduce the chance that this will happen to you while you’re on your dream trip.

I’ve recommended cheap campervans and motorhomes from companies that have great reputations. They are known for quality and service and offer such things as 24/7 roadside assistance. You’re less likely to have a problem, but if you do, they’ll offer you a solution and help you out. Don’t take my word for it. You’ll be able to see the review scores of each of the campervan and motorhome hire companies in NZ when you click the links to see the vehicle details.

How to save money and get a cheap campervan rental New Zealand

If you’re ready to see inexpensive campervan and motorhome options, jump straight down and start comparing cheap campervan and motorhome hire in NZ. Otherwise, here are some ways that you can save money on campervan and motorhome rental in New Zealand.

Campervan around New Zealand in the winter

New Zealand is not a cheap country to travel and the summer, which is peak season, is the most expensive time. Everyone wants to campervan around New Zealand in the summer and as a result, the campervans often book out. Yep, that’s right, they book out. If you leave it too late to book you may not find a suitable option. As a result, the companies are quite happy to put the prices up.

As less people travel in the winter the prices miraculously come down quite a bit. Travelling in the winter is perfectly acceptable in New Zealand, although it is obviously colder. You’ll need to pack a lot more layers and be prepared for rain. The great news is that because it’s cheaper, you may be able to afford to upgrade to a better model or motorhome with more space.

Many companies add extra blankets and things like hot water bottles for winter campervan and motorhome hire. I would suggest you definitely want a self contained campervan or motorhome during the winter. Who wants to go out at night in the freezing cold to pee?

Choose value over dirt cheap

I mentioned this above, and to be honest I’m working on the assumption that you’re like me, and this makes sense to you. Many companies have different offers and add-ons that they’ll throw in to make the camper more enticing. If you know what you need and want, choose the best value for your purpose. It will inevitably work out cheaper. Take the cooking situation for example. Don’t get a camper with a 10L cooler if you know you want to cook meat 3 x a day. It’s not practical and your meat will spoil, costing you money. You’ll eventually get sick of it and end up eating out.

Hire a small campervan in NZ

There’s no way around it, smaller equals cheaper. If you’re after the cheapest campervan hire New Zealand, you’ll be looking at a car with a bed in the back. These are actually super popular and I would say that if you’re going for a short trip, or you’ve traveled like this before and are happy with less space then go for it!

Book a location transfer

When someone hires, say a cheap campervan hire Auckland and drives it down to Christchurch, then leaves it there, the company may need to return the car to Auckland. Companies will often be happy for you to hire the car from Queenstown, and return it to the Auckland office for them. It’s a win win. You get a cheaper deal, and they have the car returned to it’s original location with minimal effort on their part.

Do a round trip: Have the same pick up and drop off location

Because of the hoo ha involved in having to relocate campervans and motorhomes from one location office to another, rental companies generally prefer if you drop them off from the location where you picked it up. Because of this, they will usually charge you a fee if you want to drop it off elsewhere. You can avoid this by doing a round trip.

cheap campervan hire Auckland, a view of Mount Cook on a New Zealand Road trip

FAQ: Your questions about cheap campervan hire in New Zealand answered

How much is it to rent a campervan in New Zealand?

As discussed above, this can vary considerably. If you travel in the winter and hire a small, camper car, you can expect to pay as around $30 NZD a day (at the time of writing). If however you’re travelling in the summer, the same vehicle could cost around $100 NZD. Bare in mind that these are the cheaper options. The prices will go up for full campervans.

How much does it cost to park a campervan in New Zealand?

There are a variety of options for overnight parking. If you find a freedom camping location, parking is free for the night but there are usually no facilities. The Department of Conservation or DoC offer a variety of different campsite options. The cheapest (which has the least facilities begins at about $6 per night for adults. The more expensive, serviced options are $15 a night for adults. These sites have toilets and showers and usually things like picnic tables and rubbish bins. Holiday parks, like little resorts for campervans, start at $30 and go up to around $50 per night. You’ll have full facilities here, plus electricity.

Can yo sleep anywhere in a campervan in New Zealand?

No. There are specifically designated freedom camping areas. It is illegal to stay outside of these area’s in your campervan. You will need a self contained campervan if you wish to freedom camp. This will usually add to the price of your camper as you’ll need additional space for a toilet. Be aware that freedom camping sites often fill up in the summer. You need to arrive early to claim your place. Expect that you will need to pay for accommodation for at least part of your trip.

Compare cheap campervan hire New Zealand: What are the best options?

Budget companies with good reputations

There are two main ‘budget’ companies with great reviews. You’ll find they have some of the cheapest campervans however you’ll also have peace of mind when dealing with them, and trust that your campervan is in good condition. I’ve assumed that you’re travelling as a couple, of maybe as 2 friends and so all recommended campers sleep two.

These companies are

  • Mad Campers
  • Spaceship Rentals

Mad Campers

Nominated as a Finalist in the Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Visitor Experience Awards, Mad Campers offer budget but innovative campervans. They pride them selves on pushing the boundaries to come up with unique and effective space saving designs such as their pullout kitchen. This moveable kitchen gives you more space to cook as well as room to relax inside.

The cheapest campervan that Mad Campers offer is the Mad 2, 2 Berth Campervan

Cheap campervan rental - Mad Campers 2 Berth Mad 2 Campervan

Certified self contained
Kitchenette with 1 gas cooker and 15L fridge
USB power points for easy recharging
Food Grade plumbing so your water never tastes like plastic pipes (trust me, this is a benefit)
Alarm, immobiliser and lockbox so you don't have to worry when you leave it in a remote hiking car park
Interior height of 1.5 which although not high, is higher than most of the cheaper options
It has access from both sides and the rear for convenience
You can pay for an additional canopy for extra space
One way fee is $150
If you cook alot, a 15L fridge and 1 gas burner may be insufficient
Although the interior height is higher than other models, you can't stand up
There is not a lot of storage space
Click to check prices

Why rent a camper from Mad Campers?

Mad Campers are a fun company with great service and and all the necessary basics covered. They’re a great option for cheap campervan hire Auckland as they have offices near the airport both there and in Christchurch. Mad campers customers are overwhelmingly satisfied and they have one of the best review scores of all hire companies, a whopping 95%! Their name is synonymous with quality and cheap campervan hire New Zealand.

Spaceship Rentals

A 2021 New Zealand Tourism Award winner, Spaceship rentals are a popular option for smaller campervan rentals out of Auckland and Christchurch.

The cheapest campervan option from Spaceship Rentals NZ is the Spaceships Rocket, 2 Berth campervan

Spaceship Rentals Spaceship Rocket 2 Berth Campervan

2 gas hobs
20L cooler
Spaceships offer after hours pick up and drop op
No additional cost for extra drivers so more than one person can drive the vehicle
One way fee included
Free airport return transfer for bookings over 14 days
Free Ultimate Travel Guide
Not self contained, no toilet
No sink
With no toilet and no water onboard you'll need to stay at camp grounds
Click to check prices

Why hire a campervan from Spaceship Rentals?

Spaceship Rentals are a popular choice when it comes to hiring small campervans in New Zealand. The cars are good quality and well maintained and hey have a review score of 87% from hundreds of reviews. Their cars are idea if you’re really just looking for somewhere to sleep and you intent to eat your main meals elsewhere.

With collection offices in both Auckland and Christchurch you’ll get cheap campervan hire no matter which city you fly into.

The next step up: Affordable campervan and motorhome hire from great companies

Moving up a little in price can mean a great step up in size and comfort. While these companies are not the cheapest, they are great value for money. You may consider the trade off worthwhile if you want to cook all your meals or have more space to move around.

In this category, the most reputable brand and best hire option is Jucy campervans.

Going with one of these two companies means that you get great peace of mind as well as a slightly more lux camper experience.

Jucy Campervan Rentals

If you’ve spend any time in New Zealand or Australia you’d be familiar with the green and purple campers. Their unique designs are custom made by their own team and are created to meet the needs of New Zealand’s particular landscape.

The most economical Jucy van is the 2 berth Jucy Cabana

Jucy Campervan Rentals Jucy Cabana

1 x gas cooker
20L fridge
Slightly better cooking capacity than earlier recommendations
Double battery system so you can recharge electronic devices
After hours pick up and drop off on request
Great fuel consumption 12L/100km
Heating in the main cabin
Not self contained = no freedom camping
$2 extra per day per additional driver
One way hire fee between $100 and $250 depending on season
Queens size bed is narrower than other options at 1.2mx1.9m
Click to check prices

Jucy affordable larger campervan rental

Aside from affordable campervan hire, Jucy also offer great value with a model up from the Cabana, the Jucy Chaser. This is a larger 4 berth campervan, for those looking for something larger that won’t break the bank.

The 4 berth Jucy Chaser

Jucy Campervan Rentals 3 berth Jucy Chaser

Completely self contained with toilet
50L fridge
2 gas cookers
Hot water
Great for cooking a lot
Sleeps 3
1.9m interior height so I can stand up, can you?
Large water tanks so you can freedom camp for a few days comfortably

Slightly longer and wider to drive
Additional one way fee payable
Click to check prices

Why hire a van from Jucy?

With over 700 reviews, they have a satisfaction score of 80% which is a great rating. The company is really well known and you’ll see them absolutely everywhere you go. As with most large hire companies, Jucy have offices in both Auckland and Christchurch.

In conclusion

I hope that’s given you all the information you need to find the right campervan rental for you at the cheapest price. It’s important to make sure you choose a van that’s going to meet your needs. Remember that cheap cheap, isn’t always the best option. Sometimes cheap cheap also works out to be more expensive in the long run.

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A guide to cheap New Zealand campervan rental. Don't sacrifice comfort or reliability. Our ultimate guide to choosing the right affordable campervan that meets your needs for an incredible New Zealand road trip #newzealand #campervan #road trip
A guide to cheap New Zealand campervan rental. Don't sacrifice comfort or reliability. Our ultimate guide to choosing the right affordable campervan that meets your needs for an incredible New Zealand road trip #newzealand #campervan #road trip
About Christine

Christine and her partner Ben have spent the last few years traveling through New Zealand and then Europe by campervan. They travel with their dog Alisa, who they adopted in Croatia. You'll find them exploring old cities, hiking through National Parks, and taking unforgettable road trips.

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