At a total of just 268,021 square kilometres New Zealand manages to pack a lot into its relatively small corner of the world. Magnificent landscapes filled with mountain ranges, windswept valleys, tussocky plains, lush green rain forests and beautiful lakes rivers and streams along with vibrant urban areas and world class adventure activities mean there are lots and lots of things to see and do whether you are on holiday, visiting relatives, honeymooning or even on a business trip.
While New Zealand’s main cities do have regular public transport options, travel by car is the most used (and most convenient) form of transport throughout the country, prompting many visitors to seek out reliable rental car hire for the duration of their stay. Hiring a car in New Zealand is extremely easy; all of the major airports provide access to a good selection of rental car companies to choose from or car hire is available from hundreds of locations around the country. Most rental car companies will even provide drop off or pick up services making renting a car even easier.
How Much Does Car Rental In NZ Cost?
Due to a healthy amount of competition renting a car in New Zealand is actually very affordable. Depending on your travel plans, number of travellers and vehicle choices it is often better value for money than travelling by other means.
Generally speaking the longer you hire a car, the lower the daily rate is, so if possible it is best to stick with the same vehicle for the whole trip and it pays to keep an eye out for specials, relocation deals or loyalty discounts. As a general guide a regular sized sedan type of hire car could go for anywhere between $25 per day for an economy option through to $60 per day for a more elite version (dependant on the length of hire). People movers, minivans or 4WD hire cars will all be looking at over the $60 per day mark.
For most companies pricing is seasonal, peak season runs from December through to February, but the months of October, November, March and April are still busy. The cheapest time for car rental in New Zealand is in May, June and July just before the ski season begins.
Rental Car Tips – From The Locals
Need help choosing the right rental car? Take a look below for some local tips and tricks of the trade.
Compare Rental Car Companies
Bear in mind that price isn’t everything, look out for hidden extras such as drop off charges if not returning to the original hire location, additional driver fees, differences in peak and off peak rates as well as contractual obligations and restrictions. When getting a quote ensure that it is an all-inclusive price you are getting, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!
Consider Your Travel Needs
What extras you require in order to make the trip a success? Air conditioning is a must if travelling during the summer months, children under the age of five will require and approved child restraint, unlimited mileage add-ons will be beneficial for lengthy trips. Is extra storage capacity required or a GPS navigation system?
Take Road Conditions Into Account
In New Zealand many of our roads can often provide some challenging driving conditions. Snow, ice, gravel and some very windy terrain can make for challenging driving conditions for even the most seasoned drivers. If for example, drivers are planning on heading throughout some of the New Zealand’s alpine roads, a 4WD capable hire car might be a safer option. It also pays to check with the rental car company as they may prohibit travel on certain roads in New Zealand.
International Driver Licencing
In order to legally drive on New Zealand roads drivers must have either a NZ Drivers Licence or an overseas driver’s licence and meet the NZ Land Transport Authorities criteria for “Who can drive on New Zealand roads”. Visitors to New Zealand can drive for a maximum period of 12 months from the date of arrival before having to obtain a NZ drivers licence.
Rental Car Pick Up
The most common points of entry for visitors to New Zealand are Auckland for the North Island and Christchurch for the South Island. Car hire pick up is readily available from both major airports, in and around the two cities as well as locally throughout almost every town in New Zealand. Some rental car companies who have depots in several New Zealand cities, USAVE Car Rental for example, will happily allow pick up from one car rental depot say in Auckland and drop off at another in Christchurch, the same goes for their Dunedin and Palmerston North depots.
North Versus South
Car hire affordability and availability is fairly similar across the board in New Zealand, however like any other tourism based industry, it can be affected by large events and seasonal fluctuations. Being New Zealand’s most expensive city where space is at a premium, Auckland rental car rates can be slightly more expensive particularly at airport and inner city locations. Bear in mind it will be necessary to discuss options if wishing to travel between the North and South Islands with a rental car as some companies do not allow this.
Check The Insurance Fine Print
Nobody intends to have an accident but the reality is it does happen. Insurance excess amounts are something to look out for when signing a rental car agreement; they can, and do vary from company to company. Drivers will usually have to front up with anywhere from two to three thousand NZ dollars and maybe more if an accident occurs. This can be quite a drain on the finances particularly when on holiday, external personal travel insurance (which includes rental car excess) may be a viable option or some rental car companies offer the option to pay extra for excess reduction.
Return The Rental Car On Time
Penalties for returning rental cars late can be high depending on the car rental company. For example some will charge 25% of the daily rate for every hour that the car is not returned. If drivers find themselves in a position where they are going to be late it is best to contact the rental car company ahead of time to discuss the problem. On the flip side, early returns are not usually eligible for any refunds unless under exceptional circumstances.
Hiring a car in New Zealand gives you the freedom to travel when you want, where you want and how you want – go on get out there and explore the best that New Zealand has to offer in your New Zealand rental car.