Difference travelling by motorhome or rental car

Motorhome travel New Zealand vs Rental Car – a subject many travellers need to make a decision on. With a motorhome as a “classic” New Zealand holiday. It’s fun with children and families, but is it more affordable?  This will depend on the time of the year. If you like travelling in winter, you’ll get a 4-6 motorhome for NZ$150+ per day with full insurance. For summer, the same vehicle will cost NZ$500+ per day.

Motorhome surcharges

For some locations (e.g. Queenstown) there is a location surcharge of around NZ$300. All motorhomes run on diesel – you will need to calculate on 15 litres per 100 kms in fuel consumption. Plus the ‘road user charges’ (diesel tax) which is around NZ$45 per 1000 kms.

During peak summer season there can also be a one-way fee or a minimum rental period of 14 days. On top of this you will need to calculate the fees for motor parks of around NZ$35 per person for a powered site. This fee covers the use of the communal kitchens, shower/toilet and playground facilities.

View a sample motorhome itinerary for North & South Island.

Flexibility between motorhome and rental car

Motorhome travel provides a little more flexibility with the pace you travel and the places you want to stay. A good 90% of travellers stay overnight at commercial motor parks to enjoy all the facilities. But chances are, you’ll probably meet international travellers (during peak summer season) rather than New Zealand locals.

Driving & Safety

Modern motorhomes offer automatic transmission and being a large vehicle, they’re easy to drive (even the manual rental options). Travelling with a motorhome is generally slower than with a rental car. New Zealand law is very strict about wearing seatbelts. Some roads are not recommended for motorhome travel due to windy, narrow road conditions. If you’re travelling in winter, make sure you get a high-quality vehicle with an excellent heater!

Luggage Storage

Consider travelling with ‘soft bags’ rather than hard case large suitcases. These are a lot easier to store in the vehicle’s luggage compartments.

Rental Depots

There are only three main depot locations in New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

View sample North & South Island itineraries.

Key thoughts: Motorhome travel New Zealand vs Rental Car


The cost depends on the season and size of the vehicle. For a Compact Automatic car in peak season, expect to pay around NZ$100 per day with full insurance cover and 2 signed-in drivers.

Important: Rental cars are calculated by 24 hours e.g. if you pick-up at 1pm on one day and drop of at 1pm next day, this will be counted as 1 rental day. With a motorhome this would be 2 rental days, as motorhomes/ campervans are calculated by days!


Travelling with a rental car is faster and creates a very different holiday. It’s a great option if you’re on limited time. If you’re travelling with the ferry between North and South Island you don’t always need to take the car onto the ferry!  That’s a big plus! Using a domestic flight is a great way to cover large distances and it’s so easy. Just drop-off the rental car at the airport car park and board a flight. Collect another rental car at the next airport. You’ll save NZ$200+ on a car ferry ticket. You can’t do this with a motorhome!


You’ll get a greater variety of New Zealand accommodation – B & B Lodges, cottages, motels, boutique hotels, mainstream hotels etc. Cost usually starts at NZ$250+ per night per room. Meet the locals, share their knowledge and enjoy a great choice of locations.

View a Sample North & South Island North itineraries

Happy travelling either with a motorhome or a rental car!

Get a free quote

Use a local New Zealand travel expert to plan your NZ holiday - for free!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Latest Articles
Get a free quote