Scroll down to find out how to get FREE car hire for your New Zealand road trip.
OK so that title sounded like it was basically pure click bait. Sorry about that! But on the last day of our trip across New Zealand’s north island, we found out we’d wasted a tonne of money on car rental.
You obviously can’t do a road trip without a car, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that most people start their trip in Auckland, just like we did (you can find our itinerary in full here). Because of this, there are loads of cars in the South Island and Wellington that need relocating back up to Auckland.
How does it work?
Most car rental sites (including Europcar and Thrifty) have a page dedicated to rental car relocation. They’re not always made clear on the homepage and sometimes a quick google search will throw up your options a lot quicker. There are even a few “go-compare” style sites which show offers from a wide range of care hire companies – like Transfercar.
The rental company will list where they need rental cars to collected from, and the date hat the rental car must reach its destination. If you are really keen about saving money on your car rental then its best to get this lined up at the same time as booking your flights so you can make sure you get the best deal on both.
You’ll need to make sure you check the terms and conditions thoroughly. Petrol and insurance are two key costs which you will need to factor in.
The rental company may also impose a mileage limit on to your journey – this is because they expect the car to be driven a relatively direct route between the two points. This may mean long detours aren’t possible so check the terms and conditions first!
What routes are available?
If you had your heart set on starting your trip in Auckland then rental car relocation might not be for you.
Wellington to Auckland and Queenstown to Christchurch are the two most popular relocation routes but it is also possible to get a relocation deal from Queenstown to Auckland if you look hard enough!
How much can I save?
There are a number of factors which affect just how good a deal you can get. While we were in Wellington we saw marketing offering FREE rental care hire from Wellington to Auckland (petrol and insurance not included). Other deals are as low of $1 a day which represents a massive saving.
If you want to have the car for a few days extra you may have to pay the usual day rate but, if you’ve saved a bomb on the first half of your trip it may be worth it!
If you manage to pick up a car from the South Island which needs taking to Auckland the company will usually also pay the cost of the inter-island ferry for you.
When is the best time to find a deal?
If you’re willing to travel off peak you’re more likely to get a good deal.
December through to February are generally the busiest months but if you’re planning on visiting ski resorts it will also be busy between July and September.
Many of the car rental companies will even be able to offer you a deal on the spot when you land if you’re feeling brave and willing to wait to get the best possible deal.
Of course rental car relocations aren’t for everyone. I’d never be brave enough to land in a country without having my car hire sorted, just on the off chance we got our car for free. But, if you’re willing to be that little bit more flexible you really could save a tonne of money on your trip. Happy holidays!
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