New Zealand's diverse landscape is best traveled by car. There are many local New Zealand car rental companies you need to choose from. Here is a short list of important factors you should consider while making your decision.
1. Find a car that meets your needs. The New Zealand car hire market offers a wide range of vehicles for hire. These start from small vehicles suitable for 2 people traveling light and end at large minibuses for groups. The names of vehicle categories vary from one company to the other. When browsing a website, look for the vehicle specs pages. This will help you compare apples with apples. The vehicle specs found on most New Zealand car rental websites, will give you an idea on how many people can drive in comfort in the vehicle and also how much luggage you can fit in. If you carry a lot of luggage it is advisable to take a larger size car. Do not put your hopes on getting an upgrade. As many vehicles in the car rental industry in New Zealand are imported from Japan, you may not be familiar with the car model. Try searching the term in places such as Wikipedia to find the name of similar models you might have in your own country.
2. What's included in daily rate. To simplify the comparison of apples with apples, you need to check what each company is including in its daily rate. Usually this will be stated at the home page, but you can also look for a Frequently Asked Questions page or a Terms & Conditions page. Make sure the daily rate includes a 24 hour AA roadside assistance, for your peace of mind while traveling.
3. What's not included in the daily rate. Look for the small print. You can find what is not included in the daily rate on the online booking search result page. Look for airport fees, after hour service fees etc. You will probably find details of additional items you can hire.
4. Insurance. Included in the daily rate is usually a comprehensive third party insurance. Make sure you understand the terminology and that you understand what you are liable for in case an unfortunate accident.
5. Collision Damage Waiver options. In the unfortunate event of accident you will have to pay the excess you are liable for regardless of who is at fault. As property damage insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand, it can take a long time until a claim is resolved. This is why many rental car companies are offering their clients to purchase additional collision damage waiver, or CDW. Read the options carefully as these may vary from one company to the other.
6. Under 21 years of age? Most car rental companies in New Zealand prescribe 21 years as the minimum age to hire a car. So if you are under 21 years of age, it is important you ensure the car rental company you are hiring from will allow you to drive the car. you should also confirm if there are any surcharges associated.
7. Traveling with children. If you travel with children under the age of 7 years, they need to be listed with the proper child restraint, according to NZ Transport Agency. Take note the baby or child seat is considered an additional item and therefore one might not be available for you. You should check with your rental car company a child seat has been allocated for you before your arrival.
8. Traveling between islands. Being an island nation, ferries are an important mode of transportation for connecting the North and South Islands. The divide between New Zealand's North and South islands is one of the most beautiful parts of NZ – the Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds. Traveling between the islands is easy. All you need is to board the inter-island ferry, enjoy the beautiful scenery from one of the decks and after 3 hours drive off at the other side. Some rental companies have depots at both ends of the ferry crossing (Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island), which means you leave the car at the depot, take your luggage with you on the ferry and receive a different vehicle on the other side. From our experience, it is more convenient to take your car rental on the ferry to the other island than having to unpack your car on one side and then pack your new car and draw up a new contract. There are two companies offering ferry crossing services – Interislander and Bluebridge. It is advisable to book the crossing in advance, and it can also save you money. You can make the booking online yourself, or at any of the authorized agents. Ask the team at the rental company for assistance.
9. Cancellation policy. If you are the kind of person who likes to have things organized way in advance, you need to know what are the rental car company cancellation policies. When booking online some companies will charge a deposit and some will not. In both cases you need to know what will happen if you cancel your reservation prior arrival time, and it is also advisable to know what you will be charged in case of a no-show or in case of change of pick-up time.
10. Additional items for hire. This may not be a highly important factor in making your decision, it is good to know what is the added value a New Zealand car rental company is offering you. These items can add further flexibility and comfort while on the road.