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.
- Local used car dealerships
- Local used car dealerships, specialised on backpackers and holidaymakers
- Local car fairs
- Online, e.g., TradeMe (New Zealand’s eBay)
- On blackboards at hostels and motels
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.
Buying a car or campervan in New Zealand: car fairs and auctions (IV)
This is the fourth part in a series of posts on buying a car in New Zealand. The previous posts offer an overview of different sales channels and deal with car dealerships, both for locals and those targetting the travellers’ market. In this article, we’ll explore yet another place to find a suitable vehicle – car fairs and auctions.
When you’re starting your trip through New Zealand, chances are you’ll either land in Christchurch or Auckland, the main markets for buying used cars. Having looked at car dealerships tailored to either locals or travellers, car fairs and auctions provide more of an overlap between those two segments. Depending on the season, you will find more or less backpacker cars and vans on offer at car fairs.
In Auckland, you may want to check the Ellerslie Car Fair. Details are as follows:
Main Gates: Green Lane East
Tel: (09) 529 2233
The fair is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Follow this link to the fair’s website to get information on how it all works.
If you start out in Christchurch, visit Canterbury Car Fair:
Canterbury Car Fair
Wrights Road Entrance
The fair takes place every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. There is no website, but this link to Yellow Pages provides basic details and a map.
Another option for buying a vehicle is Turners Car Auctions. These take place not only in Christchurch or Auckland but several major cities all over New Zealand. You can take part in an auction online or go there in person. Turners’ website informs on when and where auctions take place in the respective cities. There are different auctions, depending on the type of vehicle (cars, utility vehicles, damaged, etc.) and the price range. All you need to know about buying a car at an auction can be found on Turners’ website:
In my next article on buying a car in New Zealand, I’ll talk about the main online resources. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and feel free to ask questions or comment below.
Buying a car or campervan in New Zealand: equipment for your vehicle (VII)
Transportation sorted? You have bought or rented your car or van and are eager to head out on your big New Zealand road trip adventure. All you need is some more campervan equipment. Here’s where you get it!
Campervan equipment for your New Zealand road trip
If you just bought your own car or campervan, you may be thinking of fitting it with a mattress and other basic things you will need on a daily basis. So let’s assume you need to fit your car from scratch. The most basic items you will need:
- sleeping bags
- pillows and pillowcases
- camping chairs and table
- gas cooker and crockery
An excellent source for all things household and camping is The Warehouse. There you’ll find almost everything you need for your car, from car oil to storage solutions, to camping chairs, pillows, and sleeping bags. You’ll find a Warehouse store in most bigger towns in New Zealand. Have a look at their website to find a store in your chosen area.
However, for one of the most important pieces of equipment, your mattress, head to Para Rubber. This is also a chain of stores, but not as omnipresent as The Warehouse. At Para Rubber you can get sheets of foam of varying thickness, custom fit for your car or van. So this is a great option if you don’t have a van that fits regular bed-sized mattresses. Of course, if the latter is the case and you’re fine with standard mattresses, you can also check out BestBuys or Harvey Norman.
For everything else, head to an outdoors store, such as Kathmandu. Kathmandu is often less expensive than other well-known brands, and offers high-quality products for all your outdoor and camping needs, from clothing to equipment to tents and sleeping bags.
Don’t forget that depending on the season you buy your car or van; there may be lots of travellers and backpackers trying to get rid of all their equipment. If you want to buy second hand, have a look at these resources:
Essential stores for your equipment:
- The Warehouse
- Para Rubber
- Harvey Norman
Alright, I hope that considerably cuts down the prep time for your road trip. Check back soon for more practical tips on the road tripping through New Zealand.
Additional Tip: If you do the road trip in a campervan or motorhome you can free camp at one of the many DoC campsites on conservation land across New Zealand. The requirement to stay at a DoC campsite? Your campervan or motorhome must be fully self-contained and certified under the NZD-5465-2001 standard. If you hire through a company like Campervan Finder, they will send you a list of vehicles that are certified and eligible for stay.
Happy shopping/haggling and enjoy your journey!
Have you come across any other backpacker-friendly sources for equipment? Feel free to share in the comments section.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!
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