Our month long trip around New Zealand covered both the North Island and South Island. During this time we lived solely in a campervan (a Euro Sky to be exact). Learn why we chose Euro Campers, how much it costs, and other tips to level up your rental experience.
Note: All prices are listed in NZD and USD. As of April 2021, $1.00 NZD = $0.70 USD.
- Criteria for Choosing our Campervan
- Why We Chose to Rent from Euro Campers
- How Much We Spent
- What We’d Repeat or Change for Next Time
- Other Tips for Renting a Campervan
Criteria for Choosing our Campervan
Before choosing a rental company, it helps to know the type of vehicle you’d like to rent. We learned a lot during our road trip around the UK and so knew exactly what features to prioritize this time around.
Our UK campervan was an icebox. It had no insulation, causing condensation to build up on the walls overnight. That might be fine in summer, when there’s consistently warm weather, but we planned to spend weeks traveling New Zealand in the spring and wanted something better. This meant we were automatically looking in the mid-range price category where most campervans come with lined walls. It may not seem like much, but anything is better than nothing when it comes to retaining and regulating heat.
Kitchen Located Behind the Driver and Passenger Seats
We wanted the ability to cook inside without having to open the main cabin doors. Evenings in spring can get very cold and wet in New Zealand, especially when camping. Being inside helps retain your heat and keeps you from having to cook outside during a storm. This meant we were looking for a camper that had the kitchen inside the main cabin versus located at the trunk.
Note: Even if our trip had been in summer, we likely would have opted to go for this same configuration. Not only does it provide more privacy since your trunk isn’t always open to the world, but it helped protect from mosquitoes and sandflies, two major nuisances you’ll likely encounter.
Ability to Stand Up Inside
Tom’s a tall dude (6 foot) and we knew we wanted the ability to stand up as soon as we decided on an interior kitchen. After spending hours driving, the last thing you usually want to do is sit some more while cooking and prepping for bed. Don’t underestimate being able to stand up and move around inside your portable home.
Easy Access to Storage
Space was extremely limited in our UK campervan and it became cumbersome anytime we wanted to get something out. For this trip we hoped to unpack and settle in a bit more, which ultimately led us to 3-person vehicles. We ended up using the extra sleeping area for quick and easy storage of our bedding and gadgets.
Solar Panel on the Roof
Ok, this wasn’t on our original priority list, but is one we recommend you consider. Campervans use a secondary battery to keep the refrigerator and overhead lights working while the vehicle is switched off. Every few days the battery must then be recharged. This typically requires staying at a holiday park, which costs a premium and is not always near the activities you’re targeting. By renting a campervan with a solar panel, we were able to trickle charge the second battery without needing to plug in, enabling us to be off-grid the entire trip and closer to nature attractions (the main reason we were visiting).
Why We Chose to Rent from Euro Campers
There are multiple reasons for why we chose to rent from Euro Campers over their competitors.
More is Included
Many companies charge for extras beyond the vehicle rental (such as camping chairs and bedding). We found though that the rental cost often came to more than the product was worth. This left us in a conundrum; do we save money by purchasing those extras ourselves (and ditch it at the end of the trip), or rent and just pay out the nose?
We appreciated how Euro Campers understood the needs of their customers by including these items with the standard rental rate. This provided peace of mind knowing we’d be covered on equipment without breaking the bank or adding waste to the landfill.
What Extras Are Included?
- Bedding Set (bottom sheet, comforter, pillow and cases)
- Media Kit (such as charger, phone holder for navigation, etc.)
- Child Seats
- Unlimited Kilometers
- Airport Shuttle Pick-Up/Drop-Off
- No One-Way Rental Fee
- Free Windscreen Replacement
- Camping Equipment (chairs, table, solar shower)
Euro Campers often has promotions running to help you save money on your booking. They even sometimes have relocation assistance offers, which not all companies do. This is where you help relocate a vehicle from one site to another for a fraction of the usual rate, and what you see/do in-between is up to you.
Not sure if doing a campervan relocation is for you? This article outlines the pros and cons.
Their Replacement Policy is Good
New Zealand roads are twisty and bumpy, so it’s not surprising if you accidentally break a dish or misplace something along the way. Knowing the company has a good replacement policy makes the trip a lot easier. Euro Campers allows you to just replace basic items from the road and they’ll reimburse you later.
Personal Story: We were visiting a dump station the day after picking up our campervan in Christchurch only to find our waste hose was missing the proper connector. Calling the Euro Campers office, they directed us to the nearest part store and told us to just keep the receipt for a refund later. This was a pleasant surprise as it took a lot of stress out of the situation and meant we didn’t have to travel far from our intended route.
They Accept Secondary Insurance
All of the campervan companies will have rental insurance packages available. Sadly the markup is typically high for any policy above the $0 “risk-taker” plan. Euro Campers, however, accepted third party secondary insurance as another coverage option. This allowed us to purchase a policy through Tripcover at a much better rate. Not all rental companies accept secondary insurance, so make sure to check with them before purchase.
Why We Chose the Euro Sky Model
It was the solar panel that ultimately sold us on their Euro Sky model. Although more expensive than the standard model, our trip was focused on enjoying New Zealand’s unique landscape and we wanted to be outdoors as much as possible. Having the ability to stay off-grid for an extended duration provided the ultimate freedom to explore.
I’m happy to report the solar panel functioned superbly! It even trickle charged on cloudy days. Never once did our secondary battery drop below 2 power bars, enabling us to freedom camp 90% of our trip. If you’re also an avid ecotourist, then the Euro Sky might be a great fit. On the other hand, if you plan to spend more time in holiday parks, you’ll be able to plug in for power, making the solar panel redundant and not worth the added cost.
How Much We Spent
In total we spent $5,192.30 NZD ($3,647.80 USD) on our campervan trip. For 28 days on the road, that came to $185.43 NZD ($130.27 USD) per day.
Note: This cost does not include activities. Since everyone’s interests will differ, we left activity costs out of our calculations to provide the most objective price possible.
Campervan Rental = $2,639.60 NZD/$1,854.42 USD
The campervan rental will take the majority of your budget. Considering this will double as your home and transportation though, it’s still a great deal. Without the freedom a campervan provides, I don’t think we’d have seen or experienced as many places as we did during our trip.
As budget-conscious nature lovers, we opted to focus our trip around free outdoor activities. This meant we could put more money towards comfortable transport and stretch the length of our visit.
Gas/Petrol = $1,011.80 NZD/$710.83 USD
Gasoline (aka Petrol) is expensive in New Zealand as they charge by the liter instead of gallon. As such, this easily became our second largest expense. In our opinion it was worth every penny, considering all the cool and interesting things we saw!
Food = $737.60 NZD/$518.19 USD
Our food costs can be classified into two categories: groceries (for when we cooked in the campervan) and dining out.
Groceries = $647.20 NZD/$454.68 USD
Making your own meals will always be cheaper than dining out. It’s also a great way to see how the locals live and try cooking with some of their unique ingredients. We’ve found plenty of delicious new foods (such as New Zealand’s Manuka honey) thanks to just browsing the grocery isles.
Dining Out = $90.30 NZD/$63.44 USD
In our opinion, dining out and tasting the local cuisine is one of the best reasons to travel! This trip we didn’t dine out as often as we usually do. However, the few meals we did go out for were delicious. Look for Hangi, a Kiwiburger and Hokey Pokey if you’re feeling adventurous.
Insurance = $614.80 NZD/$431.92 USD
It’s important to be covered when taking a trip; we believe this is especially true when traveling to another country. Below is the breakdown of our rental insurance vs travel insurance.
Campervan Rental Insurance = $257.60 NZD/$180.97 USD
You’re possibly going to be driving a larger vehicle than you’re used to, in a country where you don’t fully understand the rules of the road, and you’ll be on the left-side no less! As such, we’re of the mindset that it’s better to be safe than sorry and pay for the extra vehicle insurance. Our insurance package was purchased through Tripmate, which we found offered more competitive rates than the campervan companies for similar coverage.
ProTip: We found many other bloggers touting their credit cards rental insurance benefit when researching for our trip. Usually this perk means you can waive the rental agency’s insurance package because your credit card’s policy takes its place. What these bloggers don’t mention though is that the perk only covers certain vehicles. It’s important to speak with your credit card agency to confirm if your rental would be covered; our card did not cover campervans, meaning we had to purchase a separate policy if we wanted vehicle protection.
Travel Insurance = $357.30 NZD/$251.02 USD
Just like it’s important to have rental insurance for your vehicle, it’s wise to carry personal travel insurance when going on a trip far away from home. We prefer World Nomads as they cover accidents from all sorts of adventure activities, stolen gear, delayed or cancelled travel/activities, and more. Thankfully we’ve only ever needed to use them once, while in Vietnam, and the claims process turned out to be quick and easy.
Lodging = $59.90 NZD/$42.08 USD
We rarely paid for campsites or holiday parks since we had a campervan that allowed us to be self-sufficient. This kept our extra lodging costs really low. There were a few times though that the convenience of a paid campsite outweighed the time/cost it’d take to drive to a freedom site.
Showers & Laundry = $49.00 NZD/$34.42 USD
Unless you’re in an RV that includes a shower, you’re going to need to locate places to wash and do laundry at while on the road. Those staying at holiday parks will usually find these facilities on-site. When freedom camping though you need to locate and pay for public facilities, typically ranging from swimming pools, to gas stations and laundromats.
As you can see, the cost was minimal and provided a big savings over regularly staying at holiday parks. And this was with us taking a shower every 2-3 days on average. Hell, the total price we spent for one month of laundry and showers is about equivalent to the three nights we spent at paid campsites!
Other = $79.60 NZD/$55.92 USD
Of course, there’s always unexpected expenses while traveling. This category includes things such as extra gear (socks, blankets, etc.) to parking.
What We’d Repeat or Change for Next Time
After our month living in a campervan, would we do it again? Hell yes! And we’d happily book with Euro Campers if they had availability. We were extremely pleased with their level of service and how well the vehicle operated.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. There are a few things we’d look to change (as well as repeat) for next time. None of these items are specifically regarding the service we received from Euro Campers, but are instead just general insights from our combined rental experiences.
What We’d Change
- Finding public showers in New Zealand was more difficult than expected. If we were to freedom camp again, we’d spend more time understanding where our shower options were located and then plot our route accordingly. This trip was plotted more on-the-fly, and when facilities were lacking it just meant we went longer than desired between scrubs. If having a regular hot shower is important then you should plan to stay at more holiday parks during your journey. Or you can opt for the free cold showers that are more readily available across the islands (not ideal in Spring).
- I don’t know if any rental company does this, but it’d be nice if there was a dump station on-site at their HQ. The day of return is always a bit busy as you need to finish packing, dump the waste water, and refill the petrol tank and LPG gas canisters. Although it wouldn’t be my main deciding factor, I’d highly favor a company that offered these services on-site to streamline the end-of-trip return process.
What We’d Repeat
- Renting a campervan with a similar interior layout. Having the extra head space was much more enjoyable than our previous rental experience. It was nice being able to cook inside without having the trunk open, which really made a difference during inclement weather days, and helped us avoid getting bitten by insects.
- Having a dedicated secondary battery and solar panel to charge it was great. Even on the cloudiest of days we were able to get a trickle of power; never once did our battery pack drop below 2 bars. This allowed us to freedom camp wherever we wanted (within the law of course), for as long as we wanted.
- Our second campervan on the South Island had a 110 volt power outlet accessible in the front dash. This was extremely handy as it allowed us to charge all our electronics while driving. On the North Island our campervan didn’t have this extra outlet and we feared we’d drain the second battery overnight. This inadvertently caused us to reduce how much we used our gadgets those first few weeks. Tech heavy travelers should see if that outlet is a feature you can specifically request during checkout.
- Ask for an extra comforter if it’s a cold season. We LOVE sleeping in cool rooms as long as there’s thick blankets to snuggle under. Being too cold though can make for a miserable experience. We were grateful to have a second comforter on our trip and thought it extremely nice for Euro Campers to make one available to us free of charge.
- This was our first time using a refillable LPG canister and we weren’t sure how long it’d last. In the end it ended up being much more efficient than anticipated. With 4.5L capacity, we were able to go 2 weeks without refilling. That’s with us making hot coffee/tea every morning and dinner every night (lunch was often cold or purchased). Although not every gas station will refill this smaller tank size, it was reasonably priced. Our refills never cost more than $10.00 NZD ($7.03 USD) apiece.
Other Tips for Renting a Campervan
Negotiation is on the Table
Don’t be afraid to haggle after receiving initial quotes from your top companies. Competition is fierce, so you can often negotiate for an even better deal. This is especially true if you can leverage competing quotes for similar vehicles.
Personal Story: Our campervan trip was split into two parts: the North Island and South Island (in between we had scheduled a pet sit). Our initial quotes from Euro Campers included a promotional rate for our Northern itinerary, but not the Southern. This put the Euro Sky out of our total budget range and had us considering alternative options…that is until we spoke with them directly. By leveraging our interest in making two bookings with Euro Campers, we were able to negotiate a price match at the lower rate for both itineraries and get the campervan we wanted.
Ask if the Company has a Community Bin
Okay, it might not always be a bin, but the idea is for campers to share products they no longer need. For example, if you finished your trip and had extra dish soap, you just leave the bottle in the community bin for another camper to take when they’re heading out. We knew going into the trip that there’d be a few pieces of gear we’d buy and not want to pack home (such as extra blankets), so it was nice having a way to recycle the items versus just tossing them.
Silence the Dishes While Driving
Euro Campers had glass and ceramic dishware which they stacked in a small cupboard for storage. Normally I’m a big fan of ceramics, but for a road trip it meant everything rattled while driving. We found this extremely annoying. Our quick and cheap solution was to use paper towels as padding between each item (napkins would work too).
Check EVERYTHING Before Leaving the Lot
There were a few times when we needed to replace something while on the road (hose connectors, broken dishes, etc.). These extra stops, although easy to accomplish, still took a good chunk of time out of our day. This taught us to check everything before leaving the pickup lot. Make sure all the lights and plugs work, test that the refrigerator is running, and confirm that everything you paid for or requested is actually in the vehicle. There’s still a chance you’ll miss something (we did), but it’s better to catch what you can before hitting the road.
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