New Zealand is full of variety
New Zealand has a pretty unique market for camper vans due to the number of visitors they have. There are big motor homes with all the equipment and room to sleep 6, right down to a 25yr old estate car with the seats folded down and it’s important to realise that these vehicles are there to suit the demand. There are families out there looking for comfortable travel with home comforts, there are backpackers trying to do everything as cheaply as possible and there’s a whole range in between. Also there are different types of camping available to different vehicles. In New Zealand you can’t just rock up and sleep anywhere anymore.
Self contained camper vans
They now have a system whereby you can only freedom camp if you have a vehicle that is certified as self contained. This requires that the vehicle and occupants can be self sufficient for a minimum of three days. The bare minimum requirement is an on board toilet, clean water and grey water tanks and a bed. For further information I’d check out the NZMCA website. Non-self contained vehicles need to stay on proper camp sites with suitable amenities, these are naturally more expensive than freedom camping or basic Department of Conservation (DOC) campgrounds.
Main buying options
A large number of backpacker campers are converted MPV type vehicles, these are very rarely self contained as they just aren’t big enough. Typical prices we saw were $2500-$5000. The next range up is small vans converted into campers. These are a mix of self contained and not self contained. Prices varied from $5000-$10000. Then there is a very large jump up to motor homes, old ones can be had for $30k, but a majority of the more modern ones that we saw were $60k-$90k.
When looking at camper options it may also be worth thinking about resale value at the end of the trip. There’s a reasonable chance to sell the camper for a large percentage of the money that you paid for it, we’ll write about our selling experience at the end of the trip.