New Zealand is the ideal destination for a camper van trip, especially if you have the time and money to spare. But how do you start to organise such a trip, and what do you need to bear in mind? Read more about everything that needs to be considered when planning a camper van trip through New Zealand, including how to apply for a New Zealand visa.
Booking the right camper van
When planning a tour through New Zealand, it is important to know which company you will be renting your camper van from. There are several camper van hire companies in New Zealand, all offering different prices and camper vans. The best way to make the right decision is to ask around and see what others have done in the past.
First, you should check out the reviews of the companies from which you are considering renting a camper van. Once you have made your final decision, you should consider the range of vehicles available, the rental locations, the opening hours of the depots, any additional discount, warranty or liability options and finally the age limit. Most New Zealand rental companies only rent to travellers over the age of 21.
Licence and Insurance
Anyone who wants to rent a camper van in New Zealand must be in possession of a valid driving licence. Hirers with a driving licence in a language other than English may also need to produce an International Driving Permit, which is a translation of your own. Only the official document is accepted, copies are not.
Most motorhome hire companies have a number of insurance options which are included in the excess you pay and for which you are liable. You can usually opt for the basic insurance, which is included in the daily hire price. However, you should be aware that this does involve a considerable excess should you be involved in an accident. In this case, you may be liable for up to $5,000 New Zealand dollars. It is also worth noting that insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand, so an uninsured driver may cause the accident, but you may still have to pay for the damage.
Road assistance and breakdown cover
Generally, when you rent a camper van, you will be offered some form of roadside assistance. However, this can vary from rental company to rental company, and it is wise to check with them prior to departure as to what roadside assistance is or is not covered. Towing, for example, is often not included in the price and can be costly. Mechanical defects are usually covered by companies with a good reputation, but almost all other forms of roadside assistance are usually not included. This includes things like leaving your keys in the motorhome or losing them. With regard to tyres, the windscreen and windows, roadside assistance cover can vary greatly, but if you choose a good cover from most hire companies, this will usually be included.
Driving rules in New Zealand
In New Zealand, you have to follow the traffic rules that apply there. These can differ from the traffic rules in the United Kingdom.
In New Zealand, they drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle, just as in the UK. The speed limit is about 60mph on public roads, but it may vary in urban areas. Speed limit signs have a red ring around the number, as in the United Kingdom. Also, try to adjust your speed to the weather conditions.
In New Zealand, it is illegal to use a telephone while driving and also to drive under the influence of alcohol. You are not allowed to have any alcohol in your system under the age of 20, and over the age of 20 you are allowed to have a blood alcohol level of no more than 250 mg. However, this limit can vary from person to person.
Watch out for crossing cattle such as sheep, springboks and other herds in rural areas. Try not to rush when driving, as New Zealand roads can be steep and winding. Bear in mind that most bridges in New Zealand are one-way roads. When you approach the bridge, you will see a yellow sign representing the bridge. Below this image is a blue sign with two arrows. The larger arrow has the right of way.
Applying for a New Zealand visa
Before you decide to explore New Zealand in a camper van, you will need to apply for a New Zealand visa. You can easily apply for this electronic visa online, which is valid for two years once granted. The visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to 3 months at a time, giving you plenty of time to plan an unforgettable camper van tour and make the most of your time in New Zealand.