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Alas, today I posted the final episode of our New Zealand Youtube series and I am feeling all the feels. New Zealand is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited and I cannot wait to go back!
One question we’ve received a few times now is how much it cost for our motorhome rental down under. So I went through all the invoices, credit card bills, and spreadsheets I have recorded from our time in New Zealand to share all the numbers behind our New Zealand adventure.
A quick note before diving in: Our goal when visiting New Zealand was not to cut corners and travel as inexpensively as possible. This trip can be done for significantly less than we spent. In fact, many of the travelers we met had incredible New Zealand experiences while camping in cars or hitchhiking and staying in hostels. There’s no wrong way to travel New Zealand, but we did want to share the numbers from our trip so as to be helpful for other travelers. Okay, moving along!
The good news is, if you’re American, our dollar is much stronger than the NZ dollar, so a lot of the conversions worked out in our favor. The bad news is New Zealand is one of the most expensive countries in the world.
Plus, it’s a long flight to New Zealand no matter where you’re coming from. We stayed in New Zealand for two months to balance out the cost of the flights (which we mostly paid for in points) and to of course maximize how much of the beautiful country we were able to explore.
During our two month stay, we spent about six weeks on the South Island and two weeks on the North. Here’s a glimpse at our route:
We started in Christchurch in March—AKA the beginning of fall for New Zealand—worked our way south first and then north. It was winter by the time we flew back to America, so we wanted our route to start south in an attempt to avoid cold weather. We were snowed on three times during our first week in the motorhome! But as we worked our way north, the temperatures were perfect.
We opted to visit New Zealand in the fall for a few reasons:
1. It worked out that we could leave America right after our annual conference, that way we could take some time off working on our business and really enjoy our travels.
2. We love fall and wanted to see the leaves change. We were not disappointed!
3. New Zealand is a hugely popular vacation destination in the summer months (December-February) and we wanted to avoid the crowds. We ended up camping alone a handful of times and had stretches of beaches completely to ourselves during our trip, so I highly recommend this approach! Plus, rentals on motorhomes are cheaper during this season.
Speaking of rental prices, let’s get into the nitty-gritty costs of campervanning in New Zealand.
The Rental: Wilderness Motorhomes New Zealand
Camping is a big deal in New Zealand. The Kiwi culture is all about camping, hiking (or “walking” as they call it), and exploring the outdoors. Which makes campervanning the best way to see the country!
So there are a TON of campervan rental companies. We looked at a lot and were about to book with one company when a friend luckily stepped in with a suggestion: a small company we hadn’t heard of yet—Wilderness Motorhomes.
I’m not sure how we hadn’t found Wilderness in our search, because once we checked out their website, we were sold! Of all the motorhome rentals we looked at, Wilderness has some of the most beautiful units. And if it’s going to be your home for nearly two months, you want to live in something beautiful!
We were blown away by the service and quality of Wilderness and would book again in an instant. Their motorhomes are amazing and very similar to American RVs, which made the jump from our Winnebago that much easier.
They are, however, slightly pricier than other rentals. And in my opinion, 100% worth the extra cost because the product is that much better.
Please note I’ve pulled prices directly from our invoices, so some prices are in New Zealand currency. I’ve calculated all the total prices paid in USD, as pulled from our credit card statement. Current exchange rates will differ.
Length of Rental: 47 days
Cost of Rental: $124.31/day NZD to a total of $5,842.57 NZD
*Note: We were given a $2,500 NZD media discount on our rental. The average rental rate for this length of stay would be $8,342.57.
Additional Insurance Package: VIP Level $69/day NZD
*Note: Wilderness gifted us the VIP level of insurance as part of our media discount.
Additional Internet Package: $10/day NZD (and 100% worth it!)
Our Total Balance Paid: $3,713.92 USD
This number is actually significantly less than I thought it was going to be! Then again, we were given a discount in exchange for content creation during our trip. Our total broke down to $79/night USD (We did also grab an Airbnb for a week before renting our Wilderness, so that we had time to recover from jetlag before jumping into exploring!)
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly rental in New Zealand, here’s a blog post you can check out with some additional rental suggestions.
Even though our campervan rental was comparable to a longterm AirBnB stay, I would choose to explore in a campervan every time. I loved being able to explore new towns and places across New Zealand, all while staying in the same bed every night. When you’re parked somewhere new every night and constantly exploring new things, it’s nice having one familiar place to always call your own.
Additional Costs of Campervanning New Zealand
The campervan rental is likely going to be your biggest cost in New Zealand (depending on where your length of trip and flights)—especially if you do a longer trip like we did. (I do recommend you spend two weeks in New Zealand at an absolute minimum!)
To keep costs down, we cooked often and ate out only a few times. Actually, most of our eating out budget was spent on coffee shops, because the coffee in New Zealand was amazing.
We did drive nearly 6,000 kilometers during our rental, which was the most the woman at Wilderness said she’d ever seen on a rental (whoops! 😊). So we did spend quite a bit on fuel!
Gas (Diesel and Propane): $846.31 USD Because we always filled up with propane at gas stations, diesel and propane are combined on my spreadsheets.
Groceries: $957.69 USD
Camping Fees: $270.84 USD We did mostly free camp during our 47 days!
Ferry: $463.91 USD
We initially planned on only touring the South Island, but decided last minute to do the North as well. Since we already had said we would return the camper in Christchurch, we had to ferry back to the South Island. I would recommend hiring a one-way camper if possible! We missed out on a few things since we had to drive all the way back south. Plus, the ferry was twice as expensive since we had to buy round trip tickets.
Experiences: $346.86 USD
Eating out: $262.09 USD
Cash: We took out $500 USD before leaving America to use while we were in New Zealand. We used this for camping sites where only cash was accepted, on eating out, and on various smaller purchases.
Our total costs for the entire trip, RV rental included: $7,631.46 USD
That breaks down to $162.37/day for 47 days of New Zealand adventures. This was by far the most we’ve ever spent on two months of travel in all four years we’ve been on the road. (Like I said New Zealand is one of the most expensive countries in the world!) But after paying off our debt this past fall and dreaming of international travel for years, this was us “treating ourselves”. Totally worth it, BTW.
Saying goodbye to New Zealand and our Wilderness felt like leaving home after spending so much time exploring the country. It’s one of those places and experiences where before you leave, you’re already planning your next trip there.
If you’re planning your own New Zealand road trip, check out our New Zealand resources: