Renting A Car in New Zealand? 5 Essential Tips

Here at Bargain Rental Cars, we know that New Zealand has so much to offer from stunning landscapes, gorgeous beaches, spectacular geothermal and volcanic activity to fascinating animal and plant life. Suffice it to say, Aotearoa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

For years, we have helped and served thousands of tourists rent vehicles for their specific needs. Our friendly knowledgeable team does their best to give our valuable customers the information they need to ensure they have a safe and satisfying trip. We decided to tap into the brains of our team to ask them what they thought would be the most essential tips to give our valuable customers when planning to rent a vehicle in New Zealand, and this is what they said:


1. Pick the right time!


We know this is an obvious one but it is worth a mention as it really differs from person to person and what you are wanting to get out of your trip. If it’s the Summer months that you are after (December to March) to enjoy the long, bright sunny days with temperatures ranging between 20ºC to 30ºC then you need to plan ahead as this is the busiest time of the year. This is when car rental rates are higher in order to keep up with the demand of New Zealand tourists, but this is the most recommended time of year as there are thousands of things to do.

However, if you are interested in exploring the beautiful winter landscapes and plan to head to one of NZ’s breathtaking ski resorts, Winter is the perfect time to do that (June, July and August) plus you have the added bonus of small crowds! There is also an upside with cheaper car rental rates during this time of year, so the chances of finding cheap rental vehicles are highly likely. 

Bare in mind that New Zealand is in fact a year-round travel destination with tons of activities to enjoy on your own, with a group or with your family. New Zealand is also known for its amazing family-friendly destinations, we have even dedicated a blog about Family Holidays in New Zealand.


2. Pick the right vehicle.


This totally depends on how many people are travelling and how much luggage you are traveling with. Don't underestimate how much room suitcases take up! There have been a number of occasions where our accommodating team has had to source an alternative vehicle for a customer with too much luggage for the vehicle they booked. You might be fortunate to be able to have a vehicle change at one of our branches but if we are in peak season the likelihood of us having extra vehicles to spare is second to none, so it's very important to make sure you select the correct vehicle. 

Before you book, estimate the amount of luggage you will be travelling with, and then choose a vehicle that will comfortably accommodate that amount of luggage. 

Remember: you are likely changing accommodation at least once during your trip so you want boot space or a trailer that can fit everything in, leaving nothing on show. Also make sure you give yourself enough space to ensure your luggage won't obstruct child seats if there are any.

Choosing a car with a good motor and economical fuel consumption is also a must as New Zealand roads can be very windy with rough terrain and loads of uphills. Consider weather such as rain, fog and snow as well as the price of petrol.

It is handy to know that almost all of our vehicles at Bargain Rental Cars are automatic transmissions (no need for pesky gear changes on an unfamiliar road!) and we have a variety of small to larger vehicles including hybrids offering a very economical trip. Click here to see the range of vehicles available at BRC.


3. Plan an itinerary.


Plan ahead to ensure you get to do all those Kiwi adventures you want to do. One of the main things our customers forget to do is book activities in advance - they take it for granted that there will be time to book when they arrive in the area. However, hundreds of people will be thinking the same thing, especially in peak season!

Also remember to get to at your destination early to avoid queues and to make sure you've got everything you need. For example, if you want to go snorkeling at Goats Island, you might need to hire gear from the local store on the way there.

Do the research and take advantage of online deals before making your bookings, such as Grab One or BookMe. Bargain Rental Cars has a  downloadable Itinerary Template that could come in handy when planning your daily activities.


4. Get familiar with the road rules.


There are a few things we do differently in New Zealand and driving is one of them especially if you come from a country in the northern hemisphere or South America. 

The main things to know are:
  • We drive on the left side of the road;
  • Make sure you buckle up as seatbelts are mandatory;
  • Do not drink and drive, it’s not worth it;
  • Speed limits change very often but are always indicated with a red circle. Normally it is 50km/h in the suburbs and 80-100km/h on the highways and motorways;
  • We use kilometers and not miles on our road signs and car speedometers;
  • Always abide to the road signs;
  • At roundabouts (traffic circles) give way to the traffic on the right.

You can learn more about driving in New Zealand by visiting www.drivesafe.org.nz/ or check out our Drive Safe flyer.


5. What to do in case of an accident or an emergency.


If you should be in an accident and there are people hurt or you feel unsafe, the emergency number in New Zealand is 111

The order of who to contact in an accident or emergency is:

  • Dial 111 and ask for police or ambulance
  • Contact your rental provider, if you have hired your vehicle through BRC you can call 0800 566 701.
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