I have travelled around New Zealand for 3500 km on the South Island in 2016/17 and for about the same km on the North Island in 2011. In Australia I am still travelling at the moment and I have been on the road for more than 5000 km and counting! I love to do road trips and get to know the country on my own terms with my own four wheels. Before I went to Australia and New Zealand, I asked myself the same question, you probably ask yourself now: shall I rent/ buy a car or a caravan? Both options have their positive and negatives sides. Here are some of the points I considered for deciding on one of the options:

CAR

Cost:

  • Renting for three weeks with Omega Car Rentals in New Zealand, I paid 900,00 NZD including the insurance of zero access cost; Book your car and get a Hot Daily Deal with Omega Car rentals here: www.omegacarrentals.com

 

  • Buying a car in Australia: I paid about 6000,00 AUD including insurance, mechanics and registration

 

Pro

Crossing a small bridge with our rental car at Kharangi National Park, New Zealand
Crossing a small bridge with our rental car at Kharangi National Park, New Zealand

A car is smaller and therefore you

+ get around easier on the windy roads of New Zealand and Australia. Some of the roads are even prohibited to drive with a caravan

+ it is cheaper as you pay less for the rent and less for fuel.

+ On a campground the unpowered campsites are usually cheaper and most of the times the most beautiful ones!

+ You don’t have to sleep in your car/ in a tent the whole time (as you didn’t pay so much for the car) but also can enjoy a nice cabin or hotel with lovely beds as well.

+ It is a lot easier to find parking.

Beautiful unpowered campsite next to the beach at Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park, Australia
Beautiful unpowered campsite next to the beach at Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park, Australia
Amazing stargazer cabin with star viewing at night and a perfect sunset view at Omaru Farm Hostel, Akaroa, New Zealand
Amazing stargazer cabin with star viewing at night and a perfect sunset view at Omaru Farm Hostel, Akaroa, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

Contra

A car is smaller,

– so, you either don’t have space to sleep in it at all and you need to bring a tent or you have to book a hostel/ cabin or

– you have less space to sleep in it than in a caravan.

CARAVAN

Cost: Depending on the company and the size you want, it would be about 4000,00 NZD for 3 weeks including insurance

Pro

A caravan is bigger, so you have

+ more space to sleep and live in.

+ you have everything in it, you will need for your road trip: kitchen, toilet, bedroom.

Contra

A caravan is so big, that

– it is difficult to drive the windy roads of NZ and Australia. Some roads are even closed for caravans.

– it is expensive paying all the fuel and a lot more for the rent.

– it is difficult to find parking.

– As you already paid so much money for the caravan rent and therefore, your place to sleep, it is very unlikely that you will see other beautiful places like small hostels or cabins. We met a couple who wouldn’t sleep in the huts in the beautiful National Parks because it just would cost them too much to pay for the van and on top for the huts…

– You always need a powered campsite for your caravan (for the kitchen) which is a lot more expensive. There are even some Department of Conservation campsites in NZ where vans are not allowed.

– Often the included kitchen is not transportable, so you can’t take it with you on a trekking trip in the National Parks.

– In New Zealand I even met a couple who rent a campervan for a lot of money and the guy said to me: “I even would prefer to stay in a tent because I think our campervan bed is really uncomfortable…”

Result

In the end, I decided to rent a car both times I have been to New Zealand and went travelling with a small car and a tent which was perfectly fine. Sometimes we stayed in the tent, sometimes slept in hostels or cute little cabins on campgrounds. You will just explore more in a car than in a big caravan! Also, considering that you pay just for the rent already about 3000,00 NZD less, you have so much more money left to spend on great adventures!

In Australia I bought a 4-wheel-drive Honda CR-V which is big enough for two people to sleep in if you fold up the back seats, a great car for the outback and perfect to explore graveled roads in Australian National Parks. So, I still wanted to be able to sleep in the car but also to see all the small roads. If you can rent or buy such a car, then it is the perfect compromise between a car and a caravan with more Pros than Cons. Otherwise, I would always go for a smaller car than for a big caravan. It is a lot cheaper and more adventurous.

Finally, it all depends of what kind of trip and experiences you are planning to have in New Zealand or Australia. Therefore, see for yourself but most importantly, have fun and travel safe on the roads of NZ, Australia and everywhere else!

Beautiful landscape along the road at Te Anau – Milford Sound Highway
Beautiful landscape along the road at Te Anau – Milford Sound Highway

Where is your next road trip heading to? I wish you a lot of great adventures on the road!

Your travel-lady on the road,

Julie


Published by

Juliane Boll

Juliane Boll was born in Berlin, Germany and never missed an opportunity to travel around the world, get in touch with foreign people and to learn new languages to communicate easier with locals. With her 27 years she visited already 27 countries and lived in 5 of them for longer (Germany, Canada, Belgium, Spain and Brazil). She is a medical doctor but decided to go see the world instead of working in a hospital right now. She will write about her experiences travelling alone.