1. Best deals. Are in Christchurch! Majority of people start their travel in Auckland and finish in Christchurch. Christchurch has big variety and better prices; you can get a fully equipped campervan for $2,800 -$ 3,800 in season. The Backpackers Car Market, Christchurch Car Market, and the Sunday Car Market (9am-12pm) is a good place to start. I recommend the Sunday Car Market where you can talk to the sellers and get a good idea who was driving it.
2. Smart Shopping. Don’t buy the first car you see, compare and test drive, most of the cars were driven by many crazy people, make sure it drives without any unusual sounds and the gears shift well. Check the tires, oil, and if there are any rusting corners, rust won’t pass the Warranty of Fitness (WOF). WOF is mandatory and done every 6 months, they basically check the car if it’s functional. Is good to ask the seller to get it done, then you don’t have to do a mechanical check. Registration is also important, check when it expires; it will cost you $25 a month to register in the post office with 3 months minimum.
3. Petro vs Diesel. Depending how long you are planning to travel in NZ, short timers (4-8 weeks) you are better off with a petrol cars. Diesel cars have to pay taxes on KM to the government, and the cost of any mechanical work is usually higher. However, if you are thinking of a longer travel time in NZ, diesel will cost you cheaper in the long run and they do have more horse power.
Campervan vs Station-wagon. Campervans are more expansive but have more space and are more convenient. Station-wagons are cheaper, but you will have to sacrifice and maneuver your belongings more often.
4. The Goodies. Notice what comes with the campervan; most people sell them with all equipment included: sleeping gear, camping chairs, cooking devices, dishes, utensils, bins, and some extras. These items will add up if you try to buy them separately. When we bought our campervan it was empty, and we end up spending additional $400 on the little things. Check if the radio is working, often is not. 4 wheel drive is also a plus, if you have the extra money to spend on it go for it, it will allow you to drive on the 90 mile beach and to some campsites that are only accessible with a 4 wheel drive. Dark windows are a plus, you won’t have curious people looking into your car and it will give you more privacy.
Also, NZ is known for crazy weather, you can have 4 seasons in one day, be prepared, the layout inside many campervans have a nice setup where you can fold the bed and arrange seating if needed. This is very helpful when it’s raining or cold outside, perfect to cook and just chill. We didn’t have that option in our campervan and let me tell you, I wish we did, when it rains it pours and that’s when you need it most.
5. Avoid Scams. Any of the car markets will try to convince you to get a mechanical check which usually cost around $160. It’s so you can feel good that the car will run, but I personally don’t think they do a good job at it. When we bought our car, we fell into the mechanical check, they claimed that they have checked everything, but when we were 40km north of Auckland our car died. If you don’t feel comfortable with the car talk to the seller and go to a different mechanic, but if the WOF was just done I wouldn’t waist the money. Changing over the ownership in any of the car markets is also a scam; they will charge you triple the price $25-35, where it should only cost $9. The Post Office is quick and easy, all you need is a NZ driver license or your passport. Insurance? It’s really up to you; NZ has barely any cars on the road the minute you drive out of the city. You know how you drive, it’s up to you.
5 Tips How to Travel in Your Campervan in New Zealand
1. Information. Almost every major or small city in NZ has I-Sites, a tourist information center, where you can get free maps and advise on each region. You don’t need any additional guide books; we barely ever looked into our Lonely Planet’s book.
2. Where to camp? You have three options: First option, Holiday Parks, privately owned property with all facilities included like hot showers, toilets, kitchen and access to internet. They are more expansive costing around $13-20 a night per person. Second option, DOC campsites, government property converted for camping, they are cheaper option costing $6-$13 per person. Pick up a DOC camping guide booklet in any I-SITE with all the listing. They vary in facilities; some have showers, some just toilets. Third option, free-range camping, which is mostly not allowed only few places in NZ have free range camping. However, everybody does it; just find a nice quiet place and camp out. It’s FREE. For us the best places to free-range was at the picnic areas, if there is no sign “no camping” you will be alright to camp. Obviously this is the less convenient way as it means free-range-loot time. I-Sites will always tell you that you can’t free-range.
3. Food shopping. Three major supermarkets, New World the most expansive one, Countdown the medium price range and Pack n Save the best one. New World and Countdown are almost in all cities, Pack n Save are only in few major cities. In any of the three spend $40 or $80 and you will receive coupons for petro. Warehouse is a good place to pick up lots of dry food and any camping gear that you might need.
4. Weather! The weather can change drastically, be prepare, always carry a jacket or a sweatshirt especially when you go on longer tramping. Sun protection, the UV rays are extremely strong in NZ, even on a cloudy days they are very high, always carry SPF with you. Bug spray, don’t leave home without it, DEET only repels mosquitos it won’t work on sand flies and there are godziliion of them, especially in the south island.
5. Internet. Unfortunately New Zealand sucks when it comes to the internet, it’s expansive and slow. The best place to catch up on your digital life is in the library. All small and big cities have libraries; with few exceptions the internet is free. Another free option is buying a coffee at a café and you will receive a 30 min voucher for wifi. Internet cafes are available for $4-$7 an hr.
5 Tips on How to Sell Your Car in New Zealand
1. Flyers. Create flyers and post them in all Hostels and all over your car. Make sure to have a contact number, 2degrees provider is a cheap option for a simcard and you can get it in any supermarket.
2. Park your car in front of a busy Hostel; stick around you will have people asking about it.
3. Car Market. Bring it to Backpackers Car Market (Auckland or Christchurch) they charge around $85-$95 to park your car for three days. In Christchurch you have the option to leave on long term parking if you need to leave the country. They charge $350 and when sold they will wire you the money. But it’s better to sell it while you’re there, the cars that are left alone are not well taking care off and they will not push to sell. Allow yourself at least a week to sell your car.
4. Auction & Internet. Trademe is a good website it’s the e-bay of New Zealand, the only thing is that you need an account with them which requires NZ address and a credit card. There are several other free online websites that you can post your ad on.
5. Condition. Make sure your WOF is up to date. Your car looks clean, has a character and a story.
I recommend, before bringing the car to a car market to try option 1 and 2 first. Don’t panic if you don’t sell the car in 3 days, allow a bit more time and you will sell it.