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OK you world travellers we are thinking of doing something a little different next winter, (Jan,Feb and March) we have decided that Spain/Portugal is a no no next year.

So any info on hiring in NZ would be appreciated, must know good and bad bits worts and all if any one has already done it.


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Curly - 2010-04-05 9:05 AM


OK you world travellers we are thinking of doing something a little different next winter, (Jan,Feb and March) we have decided that Spain/Portugal is a no no next year.

So any info on hiring in NZ would be appreciated, must know good and bad bits worts and all if any one has already done it.



Hi Curly


First of all I would like to say what an excellent decision you have made to tour New Zealand !


Two years ago we spent two months there, about a month on each island.


We booked flights and the van hire through the Camping and Caravanning Club and then just did our own thing when we got there.


We went Feb and March and the weather was very good - end of their summer and not too busy.


There are a number of van hire companies to choose from and it seemed to us that the more you paid the newer the van.

Ours was a Maui van. When we picked it up in Christchurch we noticed that the depot was also handling Britz and Backpacker vans.

From what others told us it seems that as the vans age they are passed from one 'badge' to another, the Backpacker vans having the most mileage on them.

(Of course you get full breakdown cover which ever van you have so age is possibly of no consequence ).


My advice would be to stay in a hotel first night ( at least ) as the journey is very tiring and you will need time to recover.


Get a map showing the DoC ( Dept. of Conservation) sites. these are a bit like our CLs - very basic with tap and fairly primitive toilet facilities, which in our experience were almost all kept extremely clean.


It's a tourers paradise. Most of the commercial campsites have fully equipped kitchens to cater for the many people ( mostly younger generation ) touring in people carriers - who just use their vans for sleeping.


There are a number of van hirers there - Apollo is another that comes to mind - but I should think that if you Google 'van hire New Zealand' you should get many more.


I'm sure you will have a great trip.



p.s. Another tip is to go for as long as you can - two months wasn't long enough for us !





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Hi, Curly,

we got introduced to wonderful world of camper vanning/motor homing via five amazing weeks in NZ during Oct - Dec last year. I have 'bumped' the thread which Hallii started last Feb as some of those replies ( and pictures!) may be useful to you. Will write more later -- Try the New Zealand 'i-site' A mine of information!




P.S. See the post from Alistair (the New Zealander) on the above-mentioned thread --lots of good stuff!

And -- yesterday's 'Sunday Times' has an article in their 'Travel' section on NZ 'Native Parks' free campsites -- if you can find a copy -- or look online.

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Hello Curly,

We went via Singapore Airlines with 3 days each way to break up the long flight.

We arrived November 16th 08 and in Singapore they were getting ready for Xmas and the festivities and decorations were something else. On our way back 16th January 09 they were getting ready for Chinese new year WOW!! China Town.

Anyway we arrived Auckland 19th November spent 3 weeks around North Island

before taking the train from Auckland to Wellington 3 days then the ferry to Picton then onto Kiakora whale watching 1 day, then train to Christchurch to pick up our Backpacker Toyota MH/van two long seats in the back which convert to large bed and very comfy. The first night we spent at the Top Ten Site where we joined their club for a few NZ dollars and that gave us 10% of every night spent on their sites. All top ten sites were very well equipped with washing,kitchen,barbie and internet access and it was very,very clean and tidy. We were in the camper from 3rd December till 5th January and went to some amazing places with Xmas eve up 7,500 ft in a balloon over Queenstown followed by Xmas day with a cruise sailing from Queenstown with Real Journeys of New Zealand to Walter Peak Island for an amazing Xmas dinner the likes of which we have never experienced before in 60 years.WOW

Thoroughly enjoyed every minute and it was strange to see the parades of christmas with a red Santa swetting cobbles. http://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/forums/images/emoticons/icon_mrgreen.gifhttp://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/forums/images/emoticons/icon_mrgreen.gif


Ann :D :D

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O.K., Curly,

Now that I've got some time available, here's how we set about hiring a 'van from a base level of complete ignorance -- not having any experience of camper vans/motor homes before we commenced our N.Z. adventure last October.

Our daughter (who we spent 3 weeks with in Brisbane before flying to Aukland) gave us a copy of:Lonely Planet 'New Zealand' -- absolutely invaluable -- our 'Bible' for the whole trip! This described the various companies and their varied styles of 'homes-on-wheels'. A friend then told us about the 'i-site' which I mentioned previously. Using this, www.newzealand.com/travel/i-sites/i-sites_home.cfm brings up the home page.go to:'getting to and around NewZealand 'pull down the drop-down box:transport in NZ -- under 'browse transport options' click on motorhomes(84) under 'browse motorhomes, click on 'show all listings' then:choose the place where you want to pick up the 'van -- likely to be Aukland or Christchurch -- you will then find 3(or4?) pages of listings. Click on a chosen supplier, e.g. Kea Campers, under 'contact details' go to their individual website then look at 'vehicles' or 'our campervans' or some such,and see if you like their wares, prices and style!

Sorry if that is a bit lengthy or OTT, but it worked for us!

You have chosen the most expensive period Curly and also the busiest -- we only booked the city campsites in A'land & Chr'ch, just turned up at all except the tiny "Possum Lodge" in Manapouri ( S.Island) -- but my bro-in-law, travelling in Jan., found sites to be far busier than we did -- the long school holiday coincides with your dates!

From your post on here I guess that you have 'motorhomed' before, perhaps in one of the large coach built 'horseboxes' that we avoided! we did, however, go for a 'self-contained' - i.e. with loo & washroom and decent-sized waste tanks, thse are essential if you want to use the quiet & beautiful D.O.C. sites, as has been said above, wardens will check that you have the neccessary certification on your van.

The Main hirers' vehicles that you will see around NZ are: Kea ( on a Ford base) Apollo (VW) Maui (Mercedes) & Britz (VW) All have their adherents

We chose a small family-run firm, Gateway, and would recommend them unreservedly -- except that they run Fiats -- if it is a new one -- (ours wasn't and cost less as a result) don't try to reverse it up a slope!

We chose to opt for the full insurance -- which turned out to be a good choice for us -- make up your own mind on that one! Our friendly hirer collected us from our Aukland hotel (free) before giving us a very thorough advice session on the workings of the van. He had also done us a very good deal on the ferry crossing between Nth.& Sth. Islands -- you would be wise to book that in advance if you can. Watch out for changes in the exchange rate -- our van hire increased by a large amount between booking & paying -- no fault of the hirer --just the pound sliding and the NZ$ being strong! Our hirer did not pass on the diesel tax --be aware of that one -- some do. Although it is only a small firm Gateway let you pick up at Aukland and drop off at Christchurch at no extra cost - which suited us fine -- many other hirers do too - but some charge extra.

I think that this is enough to be going on with Curly -- but do come back if you have any questions or want more advice,


Have a wonderful time in that friendly and stunningly beautiful country!


Cheers, Colin.


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Just a couple of extra observations, Curly, (then I promise that I'll stop before I get boring!)

1. Make sure that you obtain (or are supplied with the 'van -- as we were) a copy of the 'Hema' giudebook/mapbook of both islands -- which should also have listings/descriptions/ratings of ALL of the sites (except the native Parks scheme) inc. DOC sites -- over the whole country.

2. Isn't the internet wonderful? We did all of our organizing by e-mail -- Roger & Karen Ballantyne at Gateway Motorhomes were super-efficient -- I sometmes wondered if they Slept!

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Thanks for that, Graham (Curly) I enjoyed doing it -- I have some fabulous photos which I could e-mail to you on a 'Picasa Web album' (which, cleverly, would not fill up your hard disc) if you are interested -- but probably too busy researching your trip! I should have looked closer at your original post -- a Rapido is big b----r of a motor home!

I will 'bump' the other useful 'thread' (from Hallii) once more -- so that you have it to hand -- I didn't repeat the useful info/website links from other people but can endorse most of them -- anyway Hallii might like to look at this one -- he is setting off at about the same time as you, I think.





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  • 4 months later...


We did NZ two years ago ,We went through Thomas Cook travel agents ,everything went to plan ,4nights in Hong Kong ,Three weeks in Australia ,6 weeks NZ .and 5 Nights in Singapore on way back.


Dont book Motorhome direct,T Cook got a far better deal for us ,Use Top ten sites join and get a discount on sites ,visit the Little blue Peguins in Timura .Franz Joseph glazier brilliant .Could go on and on ,we are planning to return in couple of years .If after all the replies you will get you still need help ,contact me on email frank@frank60.fsnet.co.uk.

We enjoyed motorhoming so muxch a year later we brought a MH inhere in uk .

Although dealer will say MH cannnot be taken of the tarmac you can if careful still see most of the sites .

One tip ,we had a car in Australia for two weeks ,stayed in Motor lodges ,not a good plan ,hated living out of suit cases.Motor homing in NZ was great

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" TOP TEN " sites in N.Z. :


Having had some of their advertising material sent to us before we went, we used a Top Ten site in Christchurch when we arrived, and 'joined their club' to get a discount on further use of their sites( for a fee if I remember correctly).


Trouble was we only used one or two more of their sites in two months so joining was an unnecessary extra expense.


They did have very good sites but were generally more expensive than the ones we did use. In fact we also used a number of the Dept. of Conservation (DoC) sites which just cost a few pounds ( bit like CLs and CSs in the UK )


If you prefer / intend to use well equipped,' top of the range' sites all the time then the Top Ten chain of sites will suit you and you will benefit from the discount, in our case we didn't.

(It might also be an idea if you make sure there are a number of them on your route).


Just a thought.










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When I retired 20 years ago we toured NZ, hired from Maui they were very good. Best holiday we ever had. We have the advantage of having family there. Back then if you picked up the van in Christchurch and handed it back in Aukland they paid the ferry fare, which was a big saving. If you have a look around there are loads of posts on here about NZ. You will wish you had done NZ years ago.
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Hi again Curly, just a little thought about your flight out and back. We went out and back via USA as we had spent two & a half years in Singapore when I was in the forces, and also two & a half years in

Hong Kong, (and got paid for it). So going to NZ we stopped over in L.A. on the way out and saw Hollywood etc, and Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on the way back home. Fantastic so may be worth thinking about going out East about and back west about, something for you to think about.

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  • 1 month later...

Garry -- as promised -- take a look at the info. on here if you want some practical advice on how to hire a 'van -- see my 'post' of 6th April for example -- look on the New Zealand'i-site' a mine of information!

If you need ideas,Obtain a copy of 'Lonely Planet New Zealand' -- lots of good tips on where to go -- you can chose the level of activity/type of places of interest etc., to suit your particular interests/hobbies.




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We toured NZ earlier this year, went out mid March, returned end of April.

We booked flights through trailfinders (Air New Zealand) with a 3 night stop in Hong Kong going out and one night comeing back.

We stayed with friends near Auckland for a few days before collecting campervan. We booked with Discover New Zealand , via the internet, who are based in Nelson but delivered to us near Auckland and collected from Christchirch. We had a 2 year old van as we didn't want to risk any breakdown issues. Our van was a 2 berth deluxe with shower and toilet, 3 litre diesal drove very well. Also hired a picnic table and camping chairs, but didn't use the table much. We would certainly use them again, very friendly and accomodating. They delivered a day early and let us keep the van an extra day at no extra charge.




There are plenty of hire companies from delux down to cheap and chearful so something for every pocket.





We had the van for 34 days and did both north and south islands.

We joined the 'Top Ten' group but prefared the DoC sites.

We also had to miss out a few big chunks as we just couldn't see it all.

We liked the bay of islands, Coramandel, Rotarua, Giant Kauri trees, and Tongarino. Had to miss Napier and the glow worm caves and 90mile beach. Had a few days in Wellington before getting the ferry which the campsite booked for us on arrival.

Visited Nelson, but didn't go as far as Abel Tasman, then across to Kaikoura for Whale watching, but there isn't much there other than the whales.

Then over to Hanmer Springs, Pancake rocks, and down the west coast to Franz joseph for a glacier walk. Next stop was Te Anau and Milford Sound, which is a long drive but we were glad we did it.

Next was back up to Queenstown and Arrow town.

We missed out Invercagill and Dunedin, and went back up to Mount Cook Village and the Edmund Hillary centre, which we loved. Next was Lake Takapo before heading to Christchurch.

We went to the Banks peninsula and stayed at Akaroa which was a gem and one of our favourite spots (would recommend the giants Garden) and had a few days before a day in Christchurch before handing the van back and being dropped off at the Antarctic centre opposite the airport.


The weather was mostly warm and sunny, we only had a few days of rain the whole trip and one very windy night at Mt Cook Village, it was starting to get a bit chilly/ autumnal towards the end. We also found that some places did not have much to offer other than the attraction they had. e.g. Milford sound has one small campsite/hostel a hotel, cafe , boat terminal and thats it( we boked the trip through the campsite and got a good discount, we had arrived just after lunch and booked in we where glad we did as it gets full quickly, then went off on the boat trip ). Likewise we had planned a few days at pancake rocks but once we had seen it there was nothing else there. We found the Lonely planet guide very useful and the i-site booklets that can be picked up from the tourism offices. We also found some of the smaller towns a bit 'scruffy' and very basic, often the supermarkets are out of town, and not that cheap, especially beer.


Hope that makes sense and helps.



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