Buying or renting a vehicle in New Zealand

Driving in New Zealand is a great activity which, not surprisingly, requires a vehicle. This article discusses some ideas for acquiring a vehicle in New Zealand if you don't already have one.

Buy, rent or buy back?

Car rental in NZ is not too expensive, but the general rule is that if your trip is longer than about 8 weeks, it is worth buying instead. Remember that you probably need about a week at either end of your trip for buying and selling. You may also need to pay for insurance (not compulsory but a VERY good idea), roadside assistance (ditto), vehicle licensing, renewing the vehicle's warrant of fitness, and any necessary repairs. So it can be a gamble to buy.

New Zealand's population is only 4.5 million and the comings and goings of travellers do affect the market. Good vehicles are pricier and scarcer in October/November, and cheaper and more available in March/April, matching when most travellers arrive and leave. Many overseas travellers arrive at AKL and depart from CHC in the south. This "direction of flow" means that you can sometimes make a profit if you buy in the buyer's market of Christchurch or Nelson and sell in Auckland.

Another option is to buy a car with a buy back guarantee. This basically means that you buy and own the car but when you have finished your trip you will get a guaranteed price back from the dealer that you bought it from. The percentages vary between companies but it usually is between 40 and 60 per cent depending on the length of time you have the car for. These can work particularly well for people who don't have enough time to sell or don't want to waste their time selling on their holiday.

Tips for renting

You can usually rent a car in New Zealand if:

Requirements for cars; many backpackers go for a van type vehicle such as the Toyota Previa or Hiace or a station wagon as they are planning to sleep in it to save money on accommodation. Before you do this, remember: New Zealand has an excellent network of inexpensive hostels and campsites, and also one major crime problem: theft from cars. A 'sedan' (saloon) with a secure boot which hides all your possessions will be much safer for your kit. Also be aware that hostel owners don't generally like you sleeping in the car outside and expecting to use the hostel showers etc, as this will overload the place.

Tips for buying

The best tip is to check the vehicle before you buy, for both legal and mechanical problems. A website like carjam can help you checks the legal history of the vehicle including ownership history, mileage recorded at each warrant of fitness test (to help detect "wound-back" odometers), police interest and security interests registered against the car. The mechanical check can be carried out by the AA for a cheaper price if you are a member and is called a pre-purchase inspection. Most reputable mechanics will also perform such checks for you, and they normally cost between 100 and 160 dollars depending on the company and the quality of the check; they should take around 2 hours.

Many of these tips are true regardless of where you are looking to buy a car, but there are a few concerns specific to cars in New Zealand that you should be aware of.

'New Zealand New'

This concept needs some explaining. New Zealand imports many Japanese cars; the Japanese roadworthy requirements are so stringent that it may not be worth fixing a car that is only a few years old, so off it goes to NZ. Cars in Japan can have a hard life, so ideally you want a Japanese model car that was either assembled in New Zealand (most were until 1998) or whose only journey in Japan was from the assembly plant to the export ship; not one that was driven for five years around Tokyo first. To tell which is which, look at the dates on the registration sticker; it will show the year of the car and a smaller month and year of when it was first registered in New Zealand. If these are the same, the car is New Zealand new; if not (e.g. '1999 Toyota Corolla' with a date of 11/05') the car has spent six years in Japan first. Not necessarily a no-go, but be aware. The locals much prefer NZ new.

Other expenses

Car markets

You should do both a legal and mechanical check before you buy. When it comes to selling, don't give away your flight date; if it is tomorrow they will smell the desperation and you'll be lucky to get $100 for the car. A good answer to 'when are you flying?' is 'when I sell the car'. Check for reviews of the place you want to buy or sell. Know the value of cars in New Zealand - do your research first - and don't be persuaded to go above what you know is the market price by the market proprietor - they may not be acting in your best interest.

Auckland has several car markets, the main one is on Sunday at Ellerslie Racecourse. Sellers $20, free to buyers. Turn up before 09:00 if you can, it will all be finished by 12:00. On site registration transfer and mechanical inspections. Christchurch's similar operation is at Christchurch's Addington Raceway on Sunday from 09:00.

The Backpackers Car Market Centrally located in Auckland and Christchurch and open daily 09.3017:00. Its the only dedicated backpackers or travellers car market in Auckland.

The Christchurch Car Market located in the city open daily 09.3017:30.. They also have a mechanical workshop, which can come in very handy when buying a cheap car as it can be checked on site and repaired if needed. Used to be at 236 St Asaph Street, city centre.

Rental companies

Due to natural disaster many of the Central Christchurch motor vehicle dealers and subsequent backpacker dealers have left the city centre and are now selling vehicles in the Addington and Hornby areas, which is a short bus ride from backpackers around the city.

Used vehicle sales websites

See also

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.