Comparison of Camper-van, car rental, Bus for 2+ week trip In New Zealand

There are a variety of different ways to get around New Zealand. We chose to compare the camper-van, car rental, and bus options for a 2+week trip for 2 people. Who wants to travel alone? Not me… These options give you the flexibility to see most of the far reaches of New Zealand where a lot of the good stuff is tucked away.  Don’t forget these are the most affordable ways to travel through New Zealand.

Other options for transportation around New Zealand would be to take flights to the different central hubs. Or you can hop on the Train that will take you to the Major cities along its path of travel. Another popular option we saw was the Kiwi Experience Bus that takes you everywhere but was a little on the expensive side. Here are the 3 categories for our comparison purposes for both transportation and accommodation in New Zealand.

For the three transportation option’s, we have rated them into 3 categories: pricing, % 0f place’s you can see, and convenience.  We felt these three categories would affect a person’s decision the most when choosing the different transportation options. I have rated them from 1-100 (100 being the best rating) based on what we have experienced and researched.

When looking at the pricing we took into consideration the monthly cost of transportation, accommodation, gas, $100 ferry crossing, and taxi/bus rides (as applicable). One thing we left out of the pricing was the convenience of making food while on the road. If you are in the camper-van you are a lot more likely to cook since you have all the utensils included already along with a camp stove.

We wanted to include the “percentage of places you can see” as riding the bus will limited sites/places you may see. While driving 4,800 kilometers on our trip around New Zealand there were a lot of great places that were off the beaten path and highways.  Since the bus has a limited route this may play into your decision on what transportation you would want to use. Unless your keen on hitchhiking.

New Zealand is a very rural country, therefore, for our convenience rating  we took in consideration the convenience of being close to points of interest, which is sometimes more accessible via campsite.   The camper-van has by far the most options for staying in New Zealand since you can stay at a DOC campsite, holiday parks, or free camp spots throughout New Zealand. The bus option for convenience would be the most difficult since you would have to take a local taxi or bus to your end destination from the bus stop. This would allow less time at destinations and creates the inconvenience of waiting around for public transportation.  The Bus option would also put you on a time table schedule vs your own schedule.

Camper-van and Holiday Parks/DOC sites $28/week

Pros:

  • Get to see everything and stay as long as you’d like
  • Cheapest way to see ALL of NZ in a month’s time
  • Accommodations are always close
  • Cooking supplies are included with the rental, so save money cooking.
  • Get to be in the outdoors more by staying at camp sites
  • Don’t have to do as much planning of accommodations since there are a lot of options with campervans.

Con’s:

  • Can get very cold or very hot easily.
  • Living arrangement is a tight squeeze
  • Share facilities with lots of people and backpacker crowd
  • Not the absolute cheapest way to travel
  • A Few nights you might have to stay at a camp site with no showers
  • Have to use the campsite or holiday park’s shared bathroom (most campsites have vault toilets)

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Pricing: $57/day Rental, $17/night Stay, $30/day gas

Around $3210 for 2 people total cost

  • Rating 82%

% of Place’s you can see

  • Rating 97%

Convenience

  • Rating 90%

Overall Value

  • Rating 90%

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Car Rental and Air BnB or Holiday Parks

Pros:

  • Get to see everything and be places longer
  • 2nd Cheapest way to see ALL of NZ in a month’s time
  • Get to stay in accommodations that have heating or AC.
  • Don’t have to share facilities with strangers
  • Get to stay in your own room with a bed.
  • Easier to drive a smaller vehicle than a campervan.

Con’s:

  • Not the absolute cheapest way to travel
  • No cooking supplies, so have to rely on Holiday Park and Air BnB.
  • Will do more driving since you will probably have to go further for accommodations.
  • More planning of accommodations before to make sure you have a place, especially during peak season.
  • Accommodations will be more costly.

Pricing: $57/day Rental, $17/night Stay, $30/day gas

Around $3210 for 2 people total cost

  • Rating 85%

% of Place’s you can see

  • Rating 95%

Convenience

  • Rating 80%

Overall Value

  • Rating 87%

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Bus and Air BnB or Holiday Parks

Pros:

  • Cheapest way to see a lot of New Zealand
  • Don’t have to worry about driving on the left side of the road
  • Get to stay at accommodations that have heating and AC.
  • Get to stay in your own room with a bed.

Con’s:

  • Will not see as much of New Zealand as a car or campervan.
  • Takes longer to get to places.
  • Tough to see the tucked away places since the bus goes to limited places.
  • May have to walk or take a local taxi to your accommodation or attractions once to a town.
  • More planning of accommodations before to make sure you have a place.
  • Accommodations will be more costly.

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Pricing: $57/day Rental, $17/night Stay, $30/day gas

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  • Rating 90%

% of Place’s you can see

  • Rating 80%

Convenience

  • Rating 60%

Overall Value

  • Rating 77%

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So after reviewing 3 three options we would strongly recommend the camper-van or rental car option. The decision between a camper-van or rental car would be based on a personal decision of how comfortable you want to be vs convenience. When we say “comfortable” this is every night you go to bed inside a camper-van in the wilderness where it can be very cold or very hot. When in comparison if you at an Air BnB or holiday park they almost always have a heater or AC unit. But on the convenience side of it you have to drive further to your accommodations on average if you have a rental car. Thus, you will have less time at your points of interest. Also, if you have a camper-van during your trip you will spend about 25% less on food since you can cook with convenience and have a refrigerator.

Happy decision making on your trip to New Zealand. This was one of the most magnificent places we have ever been. From its beaches to vast mountains it will blow your mind.  Take a look at our New Zealand Budget page to get more of an idea how much your trip might cost you.

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