We were on the hunt for a budget friendly way to move between the North and South Island, our last minute decision meant we were looking at a hefty price for flights or the intercity bus – $100+ per person – which was money we weren’t wanting to spend.
We had never heard of people doing rental car relocation in New Zealand before but it turned out to be the most budget friendly way to do it.
This post isn’t sponsored. We found TransferCar by chance and were so impressed with how budget friendly a New Zealand car hire relocation turned out to be, we had to share it with you guys!
Most rental companies often find themselves with too many vehicles in one location and a cheap way of getting them moved to where they need to be is by offering free rentals to customers who are willing to relocate it for them… they even paid for our fuel and ferry crossing!! It’s not just cars either, you can do a campervan and motorhome relocation too!
Here’s the low-down on how one way relocation rentals work and what you need to know before agreeing to one!
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How to find a car relocation in New Zealand
When we were looking for a car relocation deal in New Zealand we realised there are a couple of ways to do it. We could go straight through the company via their relocations page, or we could use a third party comparison company like TransferCar.
TransferCar is maybe the easiest way to find a rental car relocation in New Zealand, especially because we were looking for something last minute. It lists every car that’s available for relocation along with start and end location, length of the rental and any bonuses we would get.
We didn’t get to see what company the cars are with until after we had been accepted for the relocation. We suspect that’s because companies offer a better deal through TransferCar than what is available by going direct; in our case we got the car for free, whereas on the company website it was listed as $20 per day!
How do car relocation deals work?
When choosing a car relocation in NZ with TransferCar, all we had to do is sign up, enter our card details and apply for the relocation – You are able to browse the cars before singing up and you’ll only be charged by TransferCar is you’re accepted for the relocation but don’t show up, otherwise you’ll pay what’s owed (if anything) once you collect the car.
We found out within a couple of hours that we’d been accepted for our relocation and were surprised to see it would be with Jucy campers, a company that’s very popular around Australia and New Zealand. You’re supposed to get a confirmation email within 24 hours of acceptance, because we’d applied within 24 hours of collecting the car we ended up having to call Jucy to confirm it but that was easy enough to do.
How long do you get to relocate the car?
This varies case by case depending on the distance and how soon they need cars at the end location. It’s listed quite clearly on TransferCar what the maximum relocation time is for each one, with the longest we saw being around 8 days. The hire doesn’t have to for the entire time listed though, if you don’t feel you need it. For example, if you needed to get Auckland – Christchurch for an event/flights/tour etc. you could get there in two days and only hire the car for this period not the full 8 days advertised and it wouldn’t affect the bonuses on offer.
We had our rental car relocation for 6 days from Auckland to Queenstown. If we hadn’t already done a road trip around the North Island, this wouldn’t have been a great amount of time. Thankfully we had so we – I mean Dec – ended up driving the 8 hours from Auckland to Wellington in one go on the first day in order for us to get the early morning ferry on day 2. This also meant we would have almost 5 days to see as much of the South Island as possible… which turned out to be quite a lot to say it was just a small taster.
How much does it cost to do a car relocation?
Here’s where it gets tricky.
Our car rental relocation was technically free, with the added bonus of 1 tank of fuel and the cost of the cars ferry ticket.
It could have remained free but the safety bond would have been $2k. To reduce this to 0, we upgraded our insurance and paid $20per day. This meant our 6 day rental cost us $120 including full insurance, 1 tank of fuel and the $200+ ticket to get the car across The Cook Strait. Add to that our passenger tickets at $75each and it comes to $265 in total for the rental.
Obviously we then needed to think about where we would be staying. Luckily, we managed to find really cheap last minute Air B+B’s – under $30 a night – for a couple of the nights and then, if I’m completely honest, a the other nights we ‘roughed it’ and slept in the car.
The grand total, including the two additional tanks of fuel, came to under $500. Not bad for a last minute 6 day inter island road trip!
Relocation price breakdown
- 6 day free rental
- $20 per day insurance upgrade (optional)
- 1 x Free tank of fuel (return car empty)
- 1 x Free vehicle crossing
- 2x $75 passenger crossing (flexi-ticket)
- 2x $80(max) fuel refill
- 2x $30(max) Air B+B
Total – $490
If you’re still not convince. We’ve totalled everything up for the exact same trip but as if it was a normal hire for you to compare:
Rental price breakdown
- $59 a day ($354 total)
- $20 per day insurance upgrade (optional)
- 1x $177 vehicle + driver crossing
- 1x $75 passenger crossing (flexi-ticket)
- 3x $80 fuel refill
- 2x $30(max) Air B+B
Total – $1026
These prices obviously vary depending on which company you choose, length of hire, time of year etc. It can be anywhere from free to $1-$20 a day, which is still considerably less than the full rental price so there’s no denying that a car relocation in New Zealand can save you a lot of money, especially if you get some bonuses thrown on to.
Things you need to ask when picking up your relocation car
Now you’ve been accepted for your relocation, you’ve chosen how many days you’re having it for and you’ve got a basic itinerary planned… now what?
From here your experience will be very similar to a normal vehicle hire. If you have never done one of those there are a few key things you need to do, or ask, once you arrive to collect the vehicle but before you drive away with it.
Is there a way to reduce the bond?
This is something you should know before you book, especially if you’re travelling on a budget. A bond is the companies way of ensuring they’re covered in the unlikely event of you having an accident and they’re often very expensive. Every company handles it differently but they all offer ways to reduce it.
Our relocation with Jucy originally had a $2k bond. This meant they would put that lump sum on hold until we dropped the car off 6 days later – that’s not something we weren’t keen to do. If you’d rather not do this either, ask about an insurance upgrade. It will mean paying a little bit extra per day, but when the relocation is so cheap it’s worth doing. With this upgrade you’ll also get better coverage but make sure to ask what exactly is included and what isn’t.
Not all companies will put the bond on hold. Some companies, like Britz, only require a copy of your card. Meaning you’ll have full access to your funds unless you have an accident. Find our more in our post all about travelling the North Island with Britz.
Our Britz Motorhome at Tongariro National Park
Does the car have any damage?
It’s common for rental cars to have the odd scratch here and a small dent there but how do you prove it was already there when you collected it? Before you drive your relocation car out of the car park get a member of staff to walk around the car with you while you take photos of the damages – no matter how minor they are.
If it’s a reputable hire company they should have paperwork in place ready to go through all this with you but it’s good to mention it to them just in case. Point out everything. The scuffs on the wheels, the chips in the paint, the small crack in the glass that’s barely noticeable… every single thing.
Why? So they can’t try and charge you for them after your relocation, especially if you don’t upgrade the insurance.
Do you need to return the car with a full tank?
Hopefully the answer is no, but unless they’ve stated you get a free tank of fuel it’s likely you’ll have to return the car full to repay for what they have provided you. It’s worth enquiring about as you never know, the assistant might be feeling generous and through it in last minute.
One of the bendy roads from the Mahia Peninsula
Do you get unlimited kilometres with your relocation?
This was something I didn’t think of until we were already on the road in our Jucy relocation car. Some companies restrict the kilometres you can put on the car during your relocation, possibly to reduce wear and tear from a trip they’re not getting paid for. These kilometres are often just enough to cover the most direct route from A – B, but if you’re lucky you’ll get unlimited and have the freedom to wander a little bit during your New Zealand car relocation. So to save yourself the panic of rummaging through all your agreement paperwork and re-reading the small print ask before you leave, just to get confirmation. Even better, get them to write it on the documents if it isn’t already clear. It’s just one less thing a possible dodgy company can ‘get you’ for if you have it in black and white on your signed documents.
We really were amazed at how easy and cheap our car relocation across New Zealand turned out to be. So much so, it’s my go-to recommendation for anyone who is looking for a cheap way to get from A-Z within New Zealand but this isn’t a service strictly available here. You can do them in Australia too and no doubt anywhere that has a car rental scheme. They have to move their cars to other offices somehow, right?
Had you heard about car relocation before? Ever given it a go? We’d love to hear about your experiences with this cheap way to travel New Zealand!
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