If you want to make a round trip through New Zealand, your best option is to rent a car. This gives you the freedom to go wherever you want. If you plan to rent a car in New Zealand, you need to apply for an international driving licence before the trip, as well as a New Zealand visa (NZeTA).
Car rental in New Zealand is gaining popularity
Although the cheapest way to travel around New Zealand is by bus, renting a car is becoming increasingly popular among tourists. This is mainly due to the freedom it gives. You are not dependent on the driver or the wishes of other passengers.
The traffic in New Zealand is well organised. The roads are in good shape and the signposting is clear. In New Zealand, like in the UK, people drive on the left side and traffic coming from the right has the right of way. It is forbidden to park on the right side of the road, even in parking spaces.
Requirements for renting a car in New Zealand
In New Zealand, cars are usually only rented to people over 21 years old. In some cases, the minimum age is even higher. It depends on the car rental company and the type of car. For drivers between 21 and 25 years of age, a surcharge applies.
An international driving licence is usually not required. However, you should always carry your passport and a valid national driving licence with you, even when you are out on the road. Sometimes, a car rental company may also ask for proof of your health insurance.
Renting a car is generally done using a credit card, since the deposit can often only be paid by credit card. If you do not have a credit card, it is a good idea to apply for one at your bank or a credit card company before departure. Another document you need to have in your possession before your trip is a New Zealand visa (NZeTA).
Reserve a car online
It is possible to reserve a car online before departure, so you can be sure you are getting the type of car you want. This can be cheaper than renting a car in a city or at an airport. The cost of car rental in New Zealand depends on the season and the type of car. International car rental companies often operate in New Zealand with branches at airports and in cities. If you booked a car in advance, you can pick it up upon arrival at a pre-arranged location, usually in Auckland.
Whether you pre-book a car or not, it is always wise to familiarise yourself with the insurance terms and conditions, especially the excess. With some rental companies, the excess is very high. Usually, the excess can be partially purchased (Collision Damage Waiver). Check in advance what the options are and whether and to what extent you want to buy off the excess.
Applying for a New Zealand Visa (NZeTA)
Renting a car in New Zealand requires not only a national driving licence, but also a New Zealand visa (NZeTA). Up until 2019, British and Irish could still travel to New Zealand without a visa, but now all tourists and business travellers, including minors, must have an NZeTA before starting their trip.
Luckily, applying for a New Zealand visa is very easy. There is no need to go to the embassy or High Commission. The New Zealand visa can be applied for from home. Simply fill in the online NZeTA application form and make the payment. Before applying for an NZeTA, check the visa requirements to make sure you are eligible for an online visa.