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New Zealand

What are the trusted and good car rental company to use in NZ?

Would you suggest AirBnb if hotels? Do hotels generally like in the U.S., have 2 double beds that can accommodate 4 people?

Or Renting a camper van? I’ve heard a lot of people do the campervan.

Posted by
11677 posts

We used Hertz for our rental because I am. Gold member and we always get good service with them, in the US and abroad. Like most NZ rental companies they have lots of automatic transmissions and it is not hard or expensive to get one.

As for a campervan, are you still going in July? Winter is not a good time to be using a campervan. As to hotels versus Air BnB, I do not know whether any hotels offer two queen beds like US chain motels. Also, with a family of 5 you would be better off with some kind of self-catering facility. On the South Island we found "motels" that had kitchenettes, adequate for simple meal preparation. But looking at the places we stayed, I do not see any with two large beds in one room. But surely there must be places with family rooms. Or try Air BnB.

When you look at prices, remember that the New Zealand dollar is 2/3 the value of the US dollar. That is, 1 NZD is worth 65 cents in US money. Just be sure which dollar you are looking at on the different websites! If it is a site, the prices will be in NZD. But is you book through Air BnB,, etc., make sure you know which currency they are quoting.

Posted by
98 posts

We are budget-conscious so we rented from Apex when we visited NZ. We also rented from Apex in Australia. The cars are not brand new so we saved $ but they did everything we needed them to do. We stayed in self-catering motels. The rooms we booked usually had beds for 4-6 people. Each had a kitchenette stocked with dishes, cups, utensils, etc. The motels were all clean and functional and the decor was usually quite dated. We found almost all of our motels using or Tripadvisor but booked directly if the price/terms were better. Here is an example of a motel where we stayed:

Posted by
11677 posts

Thanks for posting, Lane. It is good to know that there are motels with beds for a family of five. Very helpful to the OP as I believe that is the way to go.

Posted by
98 posts

Thanks, Lola. I did not read your first post until after I posted and think the information you shared was very good.

Posted by
38 posts

Thank you so much Lane and Lola!!

We are too budget-conscious travelers as we go for 3 or more weeks at a time, we'd rather save where we can and splurge at certain experiences. We don't mind to drive older cars as long as they are reliable and not stinky and dirty. We don't mind to stay at basic lodging, again, as long as they are clean and easy to deal with. We had great (98%) experience with Airbnb in our European trips as well as here in the States.

Lane, would you share your itinerary or any advice that you could give? I appreciate any help. We will be flying into Sydney to do a few days there, but we will spend the majority of our time in NZ. Thank you so much!!!

Posted by
38 posts

One more question, is there any pros and cons to do North to South, start in Auckland to Queenstown, or from South to North Queenstown to Auckland?

Are there many things to see or do if we do a road trip with car the journey between North and south? Or we should just fly to skip the areas that don’t have much to offer and save on time in driving and on ferry?

Thank you so much!!

Posted by
98 posts

Hi vincelanier, I also try to save money so we can take more trips :) and require our cars, lodging, etc. to be clean, safe, and convenient. We've rented from Apex 5-6 times and the cars were never stinky or dirty. One time, the car they brought to us was decent inside but dusty on the outside and had a spiderweb on one of the side mirrors. We requested that they wash it and waited 15 minutes for that to be done.

We traveled from north to south because I liked the flight schedule better. We flew from the north island to the south island but depending on what you want to see, driving the whole way and taking a ferry may make sense. Apex rental cars are allowed on ferries and Apex will sometimes pay the ferry charges for the car:

When renting in New Zealand, can I take the rental car inter-island
across Cook Strait?

Yes, you can take your rental car across Cook Strait using either the
Interislander or Bluebridge ferry services. If you are planning to
travel between the North Island & South Island, you can book your
ferry tickets at the same time as you book your rental car. Apex New
Zealand Car Rentals may cover the cost of the vehicle ferry ticket
depending on the length of rental and the travel period.

Below are links to resources I used to plan our trips. I hope they will be helpful to you too.

Request a big, free color map of NZ to help you plan your trip

NZ Primer (see comment #4 for a quick intro to NZ)

Tripadvisor NZ Forum (read/search posts for ideas and/or have expert locals help you plan your trip)

Ideas for NZ Itineraries

Earth Trekkers Blog

Dangerous Business Blog

Young Adventuress Blog

AA Traveller Driving Time and Distance Calculator

Posted by
10 posts

Hi there, We read a lot about driving in NZ before booking our rental (alot of warnings) then compared rates. In NZ there are a lot of options for rentals i.e. RV type vehicles, vans, cars, etc. but since there are a lot of accidents there, many caused by tourists, the rates are a bit high. Check with your car insurance company to see if they have any connections with foreign car rentals (sometimes this can save you money). Having traveled to NZ twice (both north and south islands) I highly recommend using the NZ "I site" offices or information offices that are run by the government and are at no charge to you - they are wonderful. They will book for you with your budget in mind. We used them several times during our travels in country - they have offices all over the country. These travel offices are staffed by helpful local residents and can provide you with discounted attraction tickets, brochures, maps, book lodging for you, make suggestions, etc. . They offer all kinds of assistance. -
On our second trip to NZ we just booked our first and last nights on line and then headed for the I- site office in Christ Church where they assisted us in planning out our itinerary, booked our lodging - (most were motel type places with kitchenettes that even provided milk for our tea or coffee!, had a little kitchenette,etc) In Queenstown we had an apartment with a Washer and Dryer which really was great - this helped us pack light.
suggest you do some "on line reading", get an outline of what you want to do and then "go for it". I do recommend some Travel Insurance also. have a great time!

Posted by
77 posts

Suggest you get a copy of the NZ AA (automobile association) booklet with motel listings. They publish regional versions and also a big national one. Check their web site - I think we had one mailed to us but its been a while. Anyway, their listings are quite detailed and as mentioned kitchenettes are common. We were flexible in our itinerary so we usually just called ahead the day or afternoon before. We found people to be enormously helpful.

We took our rental car on the ferry from South Island to North Island. Apex got the tickets as part of the rental deal. Not all rental agencies do this. Some want you to turn in your car on one side and pick up another one on the other side. This would have been inconvenient for us as we were sort of living out of the car at that point with stuff scattered about. Repacking and unpacking again would have been a pain. Also noticed that folks switching cars spent a lot of time checking in luggage and getting shuttles to and from. We just drove off the ferry and went on our way.

Enjoy, its a wonderful place to visit.


Posted by
4124 posts

Be sure and spend some days in Wellington. We loved that city. The Botanical Gardens and wonderful museum there are the highlights.