Traveling through New Zealand in a motorhome, campervan or RV gives you the opportunity to experience all of New Zealand with a true behind the scenes view of the culture and destinations New Zealand has to offer.
New Zealand is a great country for driving. Traffic is generally light, roads are well-maintained and the passing scenery makes every kilometre worthwhile.
A home on the road gives you the freedom to take each day as it comes. Roam the country, finding beautiful and remote places to park and picnic.
Overnight you’ll find it convenient to book a powered site in a holiday park or camping ground. The kitchen, laundry and bathroom facilities are handy and many sites have great positions at the edge of a lake or by the beach. Free camping may be possible, but it’s wise to check with the local information centre before you park for the night. Some helpful websites to pre-book your camping ground or holiday parks are;
www.top10.co.nz and www.holidayparks.co.nz
New Zealand's tourist routes are of a generally high standard and the main roads are sealed. All roads, including those in rural locations, are signposted. Remember to drive on the left!
Please see below some helpful tips for driving in New Zealand;
International Driving Licences and Permits
You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver's licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP).
In New Zealand all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their licence or permit at all times when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The common legal age to rent a car, motorhome, campervan or RV in New Zealand is 21 years.
Make sure your driver's licence is current. If your licence is not in English, you must bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP. Contact your local automobile club for further details about obtaining a translation or an IDP.
New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. Drivers give way (or yield) to all traffic crossing or approaching from the right.
The speed limit is 100km/h on the open road and 50km/h in urban areas. You will find multi-lane motorways and expressways on the approaches to the larger cities, with most roads being dual carriageways. Signposting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometres (km).
Both drivers and passengers must wear a safety belt in both the front and back seats. All children under the age of five must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint when travelling in cars or vans.
Get plenty of sleep before a long drive. Take regular breaks - one every two hours and when you get sleepy.
Do not drink alcohol before driving in New Zealand, drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced.
Self-driving holidays are one if the most relaxing ways of enjoying New Zealand's landscape. Many of our roads are scenic and traffic is low when compared to international standards.
Although New Zealand is a relatively small country it can take many hours to drive between cities and other destinations of interest. Even when distances are short, hilly or winding terrain or narrow secondary roads can slow your journey.
If you're used to driving in the city, you should take care when driving on the open country roads. New Zealand has a good motorway system but weather extremes, the terrain and narrow secondary roads and bridges require drivers to be very vigilant.
Never drive if you are feeling tired, particularly after you have just completed a long-haul flight.
The following, general information is provided for your road safety:
- Always drive on the left-hand-side of the road and give way to your right.
- All road distances are measured in kilometres.
- When turning left, give way (yield) to traffic crossing or approaching from your right.
- When the traffic light is red, you must stop. There is no left turn rule as in North America.
- The amber traffic light means stop unless you are so close to the intersection you can’t stop safely.
- The speed limit on the open road is usually 100km/h (approx 60m/h). In urban areas the speed limit is 50km/h. Speed limits are strictly enforced by the police.
- Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts or child restraints at all times, in both front and rear seats.
- During long journeys take regular rest and refreshment breaks.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in New Zealand and strictly enforced by police, with severe penalties for offenders.
General Information regarding Motorhome, Campervan or RV Rentals:
- All New Zealand motorhome, campervan and RV Rentals are calculated on a per day basis, not a 24 hour basis as per most renal cars.
i.e. If you pick a vehicle up at 7:00am on 01 Jan 11 and drop off the vehicle at 8:00am on the 02 Jan 11 this will be calculated as 2 days rental.
- Daily rental rates vary according to the season and are based on unlimited kilometers, a brief guideline on the seasons would be;
- 15 Dec – 28 Feb (Peak Season – the most popular time for motorhome, campervan and RV rentals and the most expensive rate period)
- 1 Mar – 31 Mar (Peak Season – this is still the peak season for traveling however slightly more affordable than 15 Dec – 28 Feb)
- 1 Apr – 30 Apr (Mid Season – this is still a popular time of year to travel as weather conditions are still pleasant and the rates will drop from the peak season, a lot of the specials will combine the April month)
- 1 May – 30 Sep (Low Season – this is the low season as this represents New Zealand’s winter months, these are the most affordable months to travel New Zealand with many vehicle specials available. As most motorhomes, campervans and RV’s in New Zealand are equipped with suitable heating systems for New Zealand’s winter this can be a great time to travel New Zealand on a budget, there will also be less travelers on the roads so it can provide an opportunity for a more ‘Behind the scenes view of New Zealand.)
- 1 Oct – 31 Oct (Mid Season – this is the start of the good weather and the introduction to the peak season. Rental rates are higher than in May – Sep however the weather conditions can make up for the rate increase. Some off season motorhome specials will also combine the month of October)
- 1 Nov – 14 Dec (Peak Season – this is the start of New Zealand’s Peak Season, rental rates are not at the highest of the year but certainly higher than the winter months. Many travelers pick this period to view New Zealand due to the fantastic weather and the fact that the number of travelers are not as high as in the months of 15 Dec – 28 Feb)
- All New Zealand motorhome, campervan and RV rental options have minimum rental periods. The usual minimum rental period is 5-7 days depending on the different vehicle options, however in the summer months of Nov – end of Dec there can be minimum rental periods of 10-21 days in place.
- One-way New Zealand motorhome, campervan and RV rentals are available in New Zealand mainly from either Christchurch or Auckland however in many cases there will be a one-way charge to pay on pick up of the vehicle or a minimum rental duration.
- All New Zealand motorhome, campervan and RV rental options have a security bond that is refundable at the end of your holiday. In most cases there is also always a daily ‘All Inclusive’ option that you can choose to take out. This option will provide you with maximum cover for your vehicle’s insurance, bond, diesel tax recovery and any other unexpected extras. It is always recommended that you look at taking out this option so that you are completely covered and there are no ‘unexpected’ amounts to pay at the time of collecting or returning your vehicle.
- The most common New Zealand motorhome, campervan and RV depots are located in New Zealand’s two main points, Auckland in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island. Some vehicle options are available from Wellington, Picton & Queenstown however it is important to note that for most of these locations a surcharge can and will apply.
- Most of the larger vehicle companies of New Zealand motorhome, campervan and RV rentals will provide you with transfers from the airport to the depot or some will provide transfers from an inner city location of the airport to pick up or drop off your vehicle.