5 ways to buy a car or campervan in New Zealand (I)

Buying a used car in New Zealand

Buy a used car for maximum flexibility on your tour through New Zealand

Planning on travelling around New Zealand in a car or camper van? Then you may be thinking of buying your own vehicle instead of renting one to make the transport portion of your budget the most economical. You’ll also be intrigued to hear that you’ll be among a few other thousand visitors and working holidaymakers who decide to do the same every year. Read on if you want to get a head start on finding the perfect vehicle for you by knowing the most important sales channels in advance.

So, where to start? Once you have decided to buy instead of renting, the next step is to know where to look for your new ride. Broadly speaking, there are six options available, and depending on the season and the location you’re in, they may be more or less suitable for you.

All these options are separate posts, so go check out the categories you want to explore!


New Zealand has a huge used car market that also includes many imports from Japan. Don’t be surprised open your glove compartment to find your car’s instruction manual and booklets entirely in Japanese! In Japan, the older the vehicle gets the more tax the owner pays, and hence  many Japanese regularly upgrade to new cars. New Zealand’s tax and import duty regulations are favourable, so many Japanese cars end up in Aotearoa. So, you’ll find two categories of cars in New Zealand: “New Zealand New”, meaning cars whose first registration was in New Zealand, and imports, meaning those cars were first registered abroad (mostly in Japan).

Checklist for buying a car

See here for a good checklist for buying a used car from Consumer NZ as a starter for ten.

In my first article on buying a car, I will start with local car dealerships. Hope the information is useful. Please post a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  2 comments for “5 ways to buy a car or campervan in New Zealand (I)

  1. 21 February, 2011 at 20:29

    So impressed by the information you provide. I rented while I was traveling through NZ, but I can see how lots of people can benefit from this information

  2. 25 February, 2011 at 12:03

    Glad you find the info useful, Christopher. I rented, too, when I visited NZ the first time around, but buying is so much more economical if you tour the country for longer.

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