Visiting New Zealand by car is the most comfortable way to explore the country. It is a beautiful destination, but you will have to spend many hours on the road. During our month-long tour of New Zealand we covered almost 6,000 kilometers. We were exhausted! If you are planning rent a car You have to be prepared. So we have decided to write this post to help you. We tell you about our experience and very useful tips for visiting New Zealand by car.

In addition, we leave you a post with everything you need to know about driving in New Zealand: main speed limits, priority at intersections, dangers behind the wheel, among others.

Is it cost to drive in New Zealand?

Contents of this article


1. The most difficult decision: car or motorhome?

We had many doubts between the car and the motorhome. But for us the final decision was the right one. We even considered taking the bus! There is no better option than the other, it all depends on the experience you are looking for and your budget.. We were clear that we did not want to spend a lot of money on transportation. We were looking for something simple, that would take us to the places and be able to rest comfortably.

We ruled out the motorhome because we thought that a whole month without having experience with a motorhome would be too much.. Touring a country this way must be spectacular! If it had been a short week, we would undoubtedly have decided on the motorhome, but In the end we opted for the car based on several reasons.

If you intend to visit New Zealand by motorhome We advise you to read this post with information that may be very useful to you.

Traveling through New Zealand by motorhome

1.1. Easier parking and driving

The roads in New Zealand have their peculiarities. In addition, we must add that you drive on the other side. In this sense, driving a car is not the same as driving a motorhome, it is very, very different. So comfort and ease was a priority for us when touring New Zealand by car. Something that, being beginners in the motorhome, we would not have first.

1.2. More comfort when resting

Before venturing through New Zealand by car, one thing must be clear to you: you are going to cover many kilometers. We knew from the beginning that it was going to be tiring, but we didn’t imagine it would be so tiring. Besides, you are going to have to drive in all conditions: rain, unpaved roads… you have to be very careful when driving through this country. So we also thought we would be better off sleeping in hotels than in a motorhome. And every night we were grateful for the comfortable hotel bed!

Our car “resting” on the road to Hokitika Gorge

1.3. Less spending on gasoline, ferry…

Motorhomes represent a greater expense. That’s something you should consider before renting one. Apart from the fact that the vehicle itself is going to be more expensive than a car, you also have to add the added expenses. That is, you will have to pay more for gasoline (since consumption is higher), if you are going to cross from one island to another the ferry will also cost you more (since it is heavier), among other things.

1.4. Similar expenses for sleeping

It is true that renting a motorhome has the great advantage that you save on accommodation. Although don’t think you can sleep wherever you want either. If you rent a motorhome that is not self-contained, you will have to pay to sleep in a campsite.

Our route through New Zealand in 30 days

2. Where to rent a car to drive in New Zealand?

In New Zealand you will find a large number of car rental companies. Fortunately! It is a country designed to be explored by car, so there is a great offer. We, wherever we go, always take it out Rentalcars.

In this case, we decided on the company that was most economical: Ezi Car Rental.

Very important

Make sure you take comprehensive insurance. You never know what can happen to you, you are not going to drive alone and there are many tourists loose in New Zealand. It is worth paying a little more to have comprehensive insurance and have more peace of mind. If you have your car parked on the street and it gets hit, you won’t be happy having to pay for the repair.

If you take the car through Rentalcars, we also advise you to take the insurance from this same company as it is cheaper. But you must be careful that the rental company does not try to sneak it in when you pick up your vehicle.

Reserve your car at the best price

3. What type of car should I rent in New Zealand?

In general, Visiting New Zealand by car is a pain in the ass if you have the right car.. Although we can’t boast about it!

3.1. Don’t take the cheapest car

A mistake we made was taking the cheapest car, a Toyota Yaris. And that deprived us of visiting some National Parks because we couldn’t go on unpaved roads with that car.. Plus, it was missing a point of power to overtake trucks on the highways, so we struggled a bit. A very useful tip for visiting New Zealand by car is not to skimp. You will spend many hours on the road and comfort is priceless.

65 magical places to see in New Zealand

New Zealand by carNew Zealand by car
Despite everything, we grew very fond of him and it was difficult for us to say goodbye to him 🙂

3.2. Nor old cars

There are quite a few car rental companies that offer older vehicles with more than 200,000 kilometers. We do not advise you. Apart from the fact that consumption will always be higher, they cannot be compared with the new ones. On the other hand, you must think that With so many kilometers, cars can be less reliable.

We think that in the end cheap is expensive. We repeat. You are going to spend many hours in the car and it is very important to be comfortable. At least make sure you rent a car from the same or previous year that has a USB connection to charge your phone or sync your own music. This will give you peace of mind that the car is safer.

3.3. An SUV, the best option

After our experience we believe that renting an SUV is the best option when it comes to visit New Zealand by car. You don’t need to take the most expensive car either, but don’t go for the cheapest either. We believe that a Nissan Qashqai type is ideal for touring the country.

3.4. And make it automatic

In general, most cars in New Zealand are automatic. Even so, some manuals are seen. In this case, uAn automatic car is much more comfortable than a manual. With so many hours behind the wheel to face, It is a comfort that is appreciated.

4. Is it gasoline or diesel?

We rent it with gasoline, although diesel is much cheaper. Normally for each liter you save about 70 cents, and that at the end of the trip represents a significant amount.

However, keep in mind that diesel vehicles have to pay a tax. This is known as road user chargeswhat do they cost 76NZD per 1000 kilometers. Obviously, the fewer kilometers you are going to do, the more interested you will be in a diesel car. But the little you save, you pay back to the environment. The value is usually paid to the rental company when you return the car and they verify the kilometers you have traveled.

5. What are New Zealand roads like?

As we said, In general they are quite good (and beautiful), but it is important that you keep these factors in mind:

5.1. Many unpaved sections and under construction

This is one of the most important aspects. That’s why you have to have a good car. On most roads you will find some unpaved stretch or construction work. So if you have a low car, you are going to suffer and you better cross your fingers so that a stone doesn’t fly into the glass. An SUV is the best!

5.2. There is little traffic and that sometimes makes them monotonous

Normally they are comfortable roads with little traffic. This sometimes causes them to be monotonous, boring and tired. If you have been driving for a long time, we advise you to stop to regain energy, thus avoiding scares and driving rested. One of the positive things about its roads is that there are constantly several spaces enabled to stop and resume energy.

New Zealand by carNew Zealand by car
Stop to rest when you need it. You will find many spaces enabled!

6. Is parking easy in New Zealand?

Yes, except in big cities, where you will probably have to pay for private parking. Also, sometimes there are no spaces available and you waste time looking for one. So visiting New Zealand by car is convenient, in part, because parking is easy almost everywhere. Most of the parking lots are battery-operated, so there are no complications.


We advise you to arrive as soon as possible to the Franz Josef Glacier or Mount Cook, since the parking lots usually fill up around 9-10 in the morning.


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