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New Zealand has a great number of companies which rent vehicles of varying types. Most international rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Hertz and Budget are represented in most towns. And there are many smaller NZ owned companies, like Omega Rental Cars , Luxury rentals, Ace, Rent-a-Dent and Letz Rent a Car which are also good.
For the backpacker market New Zealand offers some of the best car and campervan rental deals with much better prices than the corporates, Bargain Rental Cars and Abell Rentals offer good value for your money, Apex Car Rentals is a good New Zealand car rental company as is Go Rentals, offering very well priced quality vehicles for the budget conscious traveller.
There are a good range of vehicles available, from the compact, to family sedans, as well as vans of various size and type. Luxury cars (BMW, Mercedes, etc) are also available, but in far lesser numbers (for example, Devine Rentals). SUV's are common around Queenstown and Christchurch where 4WD is usefull getting to the Ski Fields.
There are many companies renting Camper Vans in New Zealand, THL are the largest offering a variety of products from budget to family options, but there are many others, such as Iconic or Walkabout Rentals who offer the only fleet 5 star luxury of European manufactered motorhomes. Their motorhomes are all guaranteed to be 18 months old or less. These motorhomes are also built on specialist chassis to give better road handling and ease of driving.
These are very different from the typical RV as is common in the USA. Most NZ rental Campers are built on a light truck chassis, rather that a specialist RV chassis. Consequently they ride and handle like a small truck. They also tend to be smaller than American RV's, although some larger ones are starting to appear on the roads now.
These are by no means inferior to the luxury operators and often offer comparable products at a lesser price. It is important here to check public feedback, reviews and their terms to ensure you compare apples with apples. Some highly recommendable '2nd tier' operators are Wendekreisen, Wilderness Motorhomes and Euro Campers.Travellers to New Zealand wishing to hire a camper van should be aware of recent widespread objections to offensive slogans on Wicked camper vans and that some city councils are considering not allowing them into camping grounds and parks. The slogans on the sides of the vans are often offensive to the average Kiwi and may not gain you a warm reception. If you are wanting a holiday where you experience the warmth and friendliness that New Zealand can offer, you may be best to chose a van without a slogan from another budget rental company, or enquire if Wicked has a van without a slogan.
Minibuses and People Movers
There are a good range of vehicles available, from Minibuses to people movers. These vehicles are ideal for any type of group travel. From sports teams, clubs, schools, field trips, scenic tours or weekends away. Hireace offers great value for 10 to 13 seater Minibuses and 7 to 8 seater People Movers hire.
Airport Rentals Christchurch have modern people movers and mini-buses / minivans for hire at competitive rates. All minibuses have towbars and they also have luggage trailers for hire.
In New Zealand, by law, Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and theft protection are included in all rates. The CDW deductible (responsibility of the client) ranges from U.S.$1200 to U.S.$2390, depending on the supplier and vehicle type. Theft protection deductible also ranges from U.S.$1570 to U.S.$2390. You will be offered the opportunity to reduce the excess (CDW) to something more managable, usually in the vicinity of NZ$200 or zero with some of the better companies, for a daily charge. However, if you rent a car (not a truck or RV) you may not need this coverage, as some Visa and Mastercard cards automatically provide coverage for the full amount of this deductable, provided that the driver of the vehicle at the time of the incident is authorized by the rental company and provided also that the rental company's reduced CDW deductible coverage was waived. Some cards also require that you purchased some or all of your holiday by using the card.
Note that American Express does provide this coverage in New Zealand for up to 31 days although most companies do not accept American Express. If you have an accident, most companies will take a credit card imprint for the excess of the insurance, and will only be charged if you have damaged the vehicle. If you purchase your own insurance, make sure the insurance covers glass as well, as a lot don't, it's extra. Glass insurance is important in NZ, as the roads have a lot of loose stones on them. Plus the glass cover also covers the windows if your car gets broken into, those little windows that theives break into are very expensive!
Also consider that many other drivers are not insured on New Zealands roads as insurance is not compulsary.
Third party Insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand, and much has been made of this elsewhere in these forums. While it is true that there is no compulsory 3rd party, what they do have is a comprehensive Accident and Rehabilitation cover (ACC). This is funded by the Nz taxpayer. Every person in New Zealand is covered, whether a resident or a visitor. If you are involved in an accident of any type while in NZ , your medical care will be paid for by ACC.
However do note, your expenses will only be covered while you are in NZ. If you require medical help to fly home, or your body needs to be flown home, that is at your cost. And once you leave NZ, all financial assistance from ACC stops. So ongoing medical needs in your own country are not covered.
Comprehensive medical and travel insurance is essential to cover you during your visit to NZ. If you are an accident in NZ, even if you get run over or permanently disabled, there is no suing under NZ law. You might be awarded a few thousand dollars if you are injured through neglect but this won't come close to providing for your future living costs if disabled.
Your own insurance package is essential.