Renting A Motorhome In Australia or New Zealand

Friends had asked me for information on renting a motorhome and also for permission to include the information for publication into a travel newsletter.  After I did all that, I decided to rework the information into a blog post.

WEBSITES:

www.ecampervanhire.com is a must go to site for Australia as it provides information and reviews on many different companies. We haven’t rented our Australia camper yet but will use this site to find a company to rent directly from.

For New Zealand, we used https://www.rankers.co.nz/tags/motorhomes-campervans-rv as it has user reviews and each company has a score with 100 being the highest.  You will learn quite a lot reading the reviews and also many of these same companies are in Australia.

http://www.imoova.com/imoova/relocations There are some really good deals here for relocating a camper van (as they are called in Australia and New Zealand).  Right now they have a need to relocate RV’s from Sydney and Melbourne to Tasmania so you can rent an RV for $5 a day and the ferry for the vehicle and one passenger is paid for.   The number of days is limited but in some cases you can get a discount for additional days.

Another company that lists relocation deals is http://www.drivenow.com.au/onewayrentals.jspc#/relocations/AU

INSURANCE:

Read a few contracts – an eye opener particularly when it comes to insurance and what you do or don’t pay for.  Many companies, even with the additional coverage will not insure you if it’s a single vehicle accident, i.e. you backed into a tree. Most don’t provide coverage for a roll over.  Be sure to find out who pays if you get a broken windshield or even a chip and also who pays if you have a tire blowout. Some will cover one windshield repair and one tire.  Be sure and check the RV thoroughly inside and out and take pictures. Don’t forget to look for chips on the windshield and windows and even for any damage underneath the RV.

The lesser valued RV’s from second tier companies have better prices for insurance but you have to read the reviews to find out which companies have breakdowns more often and then what do they do to rectify it.

If you don’t purchase zero reduction insurance, the rental companies will put a hold on your credit card for the amount of damages you would be liable for.  All rentals include their basic standard insurance but you might be liable for $7500 or other varying amounts of deductibles.

Check if YOU have to pay for towing the RV if you have an accident no matter what your insurance coverage is.

And if you have an accident, or if the vehicle breaks down, is the rental company going to put you up and do you still have to pay for those days of rental charges while you have no vehicle?

EXTRAS AND THINGS TO CHECK FOR:

When renting an RV be sure to check how the cabin is heated, especially if you will be in chilly or cold areas.  Some just have a portable electric heater, meaning you need hookups. Some require you pay to rent the electric heater.

Look at the contract to find out what all the extras are that you might have to pay for. Many charge for lawn chairs, an outside table, and some charge for your bed linens.

Many can supply you with a GPS but if you already have a GPS you can buy used (and the latest version) of mapping software off of Amazon for about $24 which is what we did.  It includes Australia and New Zealand.

Some of the extra charges I noted were $25 for instructional walk through of RV (can you believe it)? $16 for an extra blanket. Extra for an additional driver.

Then there is the diesel road surcharge in New Zealand if you rent a diesel vehicle. It’s usually something like $5 for every 100 km’s driven.

I saw one company with a penalty for returning the RV before the agreed upon TIME of day. Another has a 59 minute grace period within the day you were going to bring it back before a penalty is incurred.  These are are just “Gotchas” which I figured the USA had cornered the market on but guess not.

Most all have a surcharge for using a credit card of around 2%.

Something else to be sure and do is to first read what the bed measurements are and convert to inches if you are not familiar with metrics. Some of the vans have a bed that is less than a double bed width which would be fine for just one person.  (A USA double bed is 54” wide and a queen is 60” for reference).

Same goes for checking the water tank size. The smaller vans might only have a 40 liter tank (about 10 gallons).

There are a few websites for the 2nd tier of older motor homes that are actually middle men for a group of companies. In my opinion, these sites are great for comparing prices, pictures, contracts, etc. but then I would advise to rent from the actual company that owns the campers so there is no question of who to go to when there is a problem.  As a matter of fact, I almost rented our NZ campervan from one of these sites but then when I compared the contract of the middle man company and that of the actual company they were vastly different on the insurance rates in that the company that owned the RV had lower rates.

I came across a few rental companies that have names very similar to the name of a first tier company but in fact had bad ratings.  Be careful there.

CAMPING:

Since we haven’t gone yet I don’t have much to offer.  A few things I learned pertinent to New Zealand are that they have many good free camping and low cost places with Department of Conservation (DOC) and you can download apps to find out where they are.  In fact, there are several good apps for both countries that have very detailed information on places to camp.

For New Zealand, just be sure you rent an RV that is CERTIFIED as self contained or you can be fined $200 for wild camping as they call it. This is a law in New Zealand and heavily enforced, particularly on the South Island. Just because an RV is self contained does not mean it is okay to wild camp with it. From what I have read, some of the low end rental companies don’t want to pay for the certification and people have been fined thinking they were okay in an RV with a toilet and shower.

WAYS TO SAVE:

This is only what I have learned so far, and there’s likely much more that I have not uncovered yet, but it’s worth mentioning.

The larger companies that you hear the most about like Maui, Britz, Kea have RV’s that are fairly new and of course the rental costs are higher.  After 3-5 years they are sold to the second tier companies. The savings can then be pretty decent.

Rent in the off season which is more like May – September.  Also October is less than November. The Christmas/New Years season is by far the most expensive as well as the most crowded on the roads. On some of the rental company websites you can see a sliding scale on what the daily rate is for a particular month.  There are drastic differences in rates between their low and high season for the very same RV.

Rent an RV with a manual transmission but remember you will be shifting with your left hand and driving on the opposite side of the road.

There are discounts for renting well in advance.  The biggest are for 120 days ahead of time.  There are also discounts for longer term rentals.

BLOGS AND RV TRAVEL REPORTS:

I haven’t actively search for any blogs yet but accidentally came across this one the other day of a couple who recently returned from a three month RV trip in Australia and about a month in New Zealand.  I had a hard time figuring out how to find the various posts but once you do it is well worth reading. Lots of good information.

http://community.fmca.com/blog/39/entry-1577-did-we-take-our-motorhome-to-new-zealand-and-australia/

Once we have completed our trip, I will update this post more and put it along side the Europe Preparation and Mexico Notes A-Z information at the top of the home page.  If anyone knows of good Australia and NZ RV travel blogs, let me know and I will include them.

One more thing to know is that most companies include complimentary pickup and drop off to/from airport or airport area hotels.

Addendums:  As I encounter additional information I will update this post at the bottom in green.

31 July 14:  An absolutely must read is this blog post about Apollo Campervan Rentals: www.revealingworld.com/apollo-camper-van-review.  Be sure to read the comments, particularly one couple’s experience that paid extra for the zero deductible insurance and still ended up thousands of dollars out of pocket because the damage to the camper van was above a certain height. 


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