car fair Auckland

Buying a Campervan in Newzealand

After our months in Asia and countless Airbnbs and various accommodations, it was apparent to explore New Zealand within a campervan.

New Zealand is a destination for Campervan. We wanted to buy a used Campervan and travel through the epic landscape of both islands.

The freedom to travel in a motorhome/campervan is fantastic. New Zealand is perfect for that. If you are in New Zealand under two months, we recommend renting. For longer, we think it’s better to buy a campervan.

Are you a traveler on a small budget? This post is for you.

I’m describing our experience with the classic campervans of backpackers in New Zealand. So, for example, Toyota Hiace and similar models.

Tips to buy a campervan in New Zealand

To find the right camper, you need a little time and you should be in New Zealand. I advise everyone to not buy the campervan before arrival. It is definitely worth read “posts” in relevant Facebook groups before you arrive. It is not uncommon for most New Zealand travelers to sell their Campervan for sale 1-2 months before departure.

When is the best time to buy?

Most offer is in fall and winter because most of the traveler start in summer or spring and leave again when it gets cold – like us :-).

So there is an oversupply and thus cheaper prices. In the summer there is less offer and the prices are higher. But there are always and many offers.

General condition of a campervan

First of all, there are incredible vans in New Zealand. Some are astonished and we wonder why they still drives. On our first sightseeing, we learned that a whole van could be held together with duct tape. Honestly.

But do not worry, there are also excellent camper out there. You can see the passion of the builder. Tutted space wonders with beautiful wood paneling.


The cost of a van this class are NZ $ 1,000 to NZD 14,000. Everything possible. It has become common over the years that most backpackers try to sell their van at the same price or higher than they paid for themselves. This leads to an offer of overpriced cars, which are generally not in good shape. Basically, campervans are cheapest in the south of the South Island and most expensive in Auckland on the North Island.

self-contained vs. not self-contained

In a self-contained vehicle you can spend the night in countless parking spaces and parking lots. That a campervan is considered a self-contained, a certification is necessary, which is not complicated or difficult to do. Essentially, a sink with faucet, fresh water tank, a hot water tank with ventilation to the outside, a trash can and a toilet on board must be. For about two years, the toilet must be usable with enough space when the bed is made.

This relatively new regulation precludes the previously popular Toyota Estima. So do not be surprised if you mainly see Toyota Hiace.

The certification is valid for four years. So if you buy an old Toyota Estima, please note that the certification is not renewable.

Each certified vehicle is registered in a public database with which inspectors check the certificate. The sticker alone, which is often stolen by other travelers to present their own van as self-contained, is not enough. Before you buy your new car, check that the certificate is in the public database:

Where should I search for a campervan?

Car Fairs

Auckland has two Car Fairs. One on Saturday (Backpacker Carfair) and one on Sunday (Ellerslie Carfair).

On the carfairs, you generally get better prices because, for most backpackers, the last option before they leave is to sell their car there. On the Sunday Fair is usually a test center where you can quickly check the car.

Our advice: visit the Car Fair with exact ideas.

Trade Me” is the online ad platform of New Zealand. There is hardly anything else. If a New Zealander offers something for sale in New Zealand online, then on “trademe”. There you will find more vehicles from New Zealanders. Backpacker cars are not so common.

On the Side of the Road

That’s no joke. Many New Zealanders and backpackers sell their cars on the street. A sign in the car with the phone number. Just call.

Conversation Company

There a lot of conversation companies. They buying old vans, convert them in a basic way and sell them. Few of them offer a buy back Option.


There are a variety of Facebook groups where backpackers sell their cars. Here are a few:

Before you buy

With all the “scrap” being offered in New Zealand, you should definitely do a pre-check at a workshop.

In order not to pay a fee-based test every time, we’ve put together a few points that you can easily check yourself:

Windshield: Search for chips in the windshield. If you already see branching, it can easily happen on the bumpy roads of Neusseland, that it becomes a crack over the whole windshield.

Doors & Fuel cap: Make sure that all doors close properly and are easy to open. Verify that a Fuel cap is present.

Tires: Make sure the tires are all of the same types and the drive wheels are evenly consumed. Make sure that the profile is more than 1.5 mm (legal requirement). 3mm is better.

Misfire: Check if a spare tire is present and if it is in good condition. A jack and a wheel nut wrench should also be present.

Rust: Check if the car has a high rust rate and if the exhaust pipe is stuck and does not wobble.


  • Adjust all seats and mirrors, check if everything moves
  • Check all displays and controls
  • Check all locks
  • Check all lights, such as the brake light, the headlight, and the warning light
  • Check the heater and the windscreen wipers
  • Check if all windows open and close
  • Check if the 12V connection works

Test drive

A test drive is very important and 20 minutes is better than 5 minutes.

  • Check if it’s easy to start the engine – the longer the worse
  • Check the steering wheel for too much play
  • Is the car driving straight when you release the steering wheel?
  • How do the brakes work?
  • If possible, drive to a hill and check how the car behaves
  • Does reverse gear work?

Questions to the seller

  • Does the car have accidents?
  • Did you regularly do maintenance work and if so which ones?
  • How old are the tires and when were they last changed?
  • If you do not buy the car from a backpacker, but from a New Zealander, ask him why he sells the car.

Erst nachdem du alle Dinge selbst kontrolliert hast und ein Kauf noch immer in Frage kommt, mache einen Ankaufstest. Unsere Empfehlung ist VNTZ oder AA. Der VNTZ ist bekannt dafür, sehr genau zu sein. Hier werden vermutlich auch Mängel festgestellt, die jedes gebrauchte Fahrzeug aufweist.

Only after you have checked all things yourself and a purchase is still in question, do a test. Our recommendation is VNTZ or AA. The VNTZ is known for being very accurate. Here are probably also detected deficiencies that have every used vehicle.


Negotiate what it takes :-). Most backpackers want to earn money with their car. Due to the oversupply, it is very easy to trade.

Our advice: ask how much the seller has paid for the car and if it is a couple, ask them separately during the tour.


To transfer the money, we recommend TransferWise. This can be done directly online at the post office, where also the property exchange form is to be completed. Finished.


In New Zealand, the insurance of your campervan is not mandatory. Nevertheless, we recommend taking one.

What are your experiences? Please let us know in the comment area.

Who liked this post, please like us on Facebook, Instagram share with your friends and leave us feedback in the comment section. Thank you. Would you like more about us, visit the About us site.

Hi, my name is Jürgen. Most know me as Jay. I know, this can be confusing. My new name was caused by hundreds of Starbucks cups, all labeled with different names. I have never encountered life as powerfully as it has in recent years and I should not be surprised that I have left behind the realm of quick and impersonal business and conforming to society’s expectations. I swapped my jacket for hiking clothes and shorts, the aftershave for bug spray, and my car for a camper.


  • Great tips here! I follow you on Instagram. I have nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award. Visit my website and take a look.

  • Hi there, The link on facebook groups Backpacker Cars doesn't work, this is the right one: You should also include the website of Travel Cars for buying and selling, you can find it here Hope that helps to make it more useful! But nice article :) Thank you

    • Hi Luis, great to have you here. Thank you so much for the hint with the not working link and also for the Tip with Travel Cars. Safe travels ?

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