Comparing Means of Transport - Camper, Motorhome, Car or Bus?
There are as many opportunities to move around the country as there are visitors to New Zealand and Australia. In this overview we clarify the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular transportation options.
Hitchhiking in New Zealand or Australia
Standing on the side of the road with your thumb raised and waiting for someone to stop has little tradition in New Zealand. Most have had their own car since they were able to drive. Thanks to numerous visitors, everyone now knows what you are aiming for if you stand on the roadside. As hospitable and sociable as the locals are, they are usually glad to stop and help you out. However, there are many areas where people are rarely seen.
Those with a lot of time can surely travel this way in New Zealand and Australia. You will most likely enjoy some extraordinary acquaintances and see places that no other tourist will get to see. A bit of openness, reasonable english, trust in others regardless of their driving style and flexibility are basic requirements for this transport option. And, of course, you shouldn't travel alone this way.
Costs: No travel expenses. You never know where you will arrive in the evening. It can be the last driver's couch, but it can also be an expensive hotel due to no other alternative or worst case: the roadside. Ultimately, it remains the cheapest option for travelers to move through New Zealand or Australia. Being adventurous is a must!
Travelling by Bus in New Zealand or Australia
If you don't value seclusion, a bus pass can be a good choice for you. The so-called "hop-on hop-off buses" circle and cross the country on the most popular tourist routes. Whether you consider the permanent company of other travelers as an advantage or disadvantage is a question of personality. Fact is, you always do the same thing at the same time as do loads of others. New acquaintances are made easily here and it certainly won't get boring. However, you only get to see the country by travelling certain routes provided by the bus company.
For just visiting certain regions casually, for trips where you aim to see as much as possible in a short amount of time or if you have difficulties connecting, a bus pass is a fine option. Otherwise we advise against it.
Costs: The cost of a bus pass varies greatly, depending on the route chosen and the period of validity. In general, it can be said that this type of transport is initially very cheap. However, since the buses always stop where there are many tourist gatherings, both accommodation and meals can get expensive. Therefore, you quickly spend $ 30 on an overnight stay in a group room and have to shop in the overpriced mini supermarket or are forced to eat out. Since you also want to experience the country, activities together with the bus pass can quickly exceed $90/day. If you don't travel by yourself, this option might also not be the most attractive in terms of price.
Travelling by Train in New Zealand or Australia
The rail network in both New Zealand and Australia is unfortunately very sparse. There is mainly freight transport between ports and major cities. Everything apart from these routes cannot be reached by train. Therefore, train travel is not a real option to get around.
Travelling by Rental Car in New Zealand or Australia
Renting a car offers a lot of flexibility. You can drive wherever you want, stay wherever you like, move on as soon as you feel uneasy and spontaneously rearrange your travel itinerary.
However, the flexibility is somewhat restricted, as in the evenings all you want is to crawl into a cozy bed satisfied and with a full stomach. And that is exactly what needs to be organized in advance. Cheap accommodation is quickly occupied. Therefore, if money plays a decisive role you have to book well in advance. Consequently, this urges you to decide where you want to go and how long you want to stay as early as a few days or weeks before. This obviously doesn’t allow a rental car vacation to be a trip of unlimited freedom. In New Zealand in particular, we generally advise against booking a lot in advance and thus enjoying flexibility, because it may well be that you bind yourself to the migration of a rain cloud, with the sun shining continuously on the opposite coast at a distance of only 300 kilometers.
Cost: Compared to a camper or motorhome, a car is a real bargain at first glance. However, many people always interpret the fuel consumption as too cheap per car. It really depends on the age and the motorization of the vehicle though. For example, cheap Hitop Campers don't consume much more than a car. In addition, you pay at least $ 25 per night for a bed in a group room and if you want more privacy, you can quickly add double and more. In addition, you can only cook to a limited extent. Maybe you have a small camping stove that you occasionally set up in the slipstream of the car to make pasta or a stew. But that won't certainly be the rule. Especially for small things like coffee you won`t bother putting the effort, which means you will spend another $5 on a coffee and muffin offer at the next gas station. Concluding, board will need a lot more planning than when renting a camper or motorhome. Especially if you travel with more than one person, you should calculate precisely whether perhaps you can rent an entire camper or motorhome for the same money you would usually spend for your accommodation only.
Travelling By Camper / Motorhome in New Zealand or Australia
Renting a camper or a motorhome offers the greatest possible freedom and flexibility that you can only imagine. With a certified vehicle you can stay wherever you like, unless it is clearly marked with the sign "No overnight parking". This allows you to be absolutely independent. Equipped with supplies and fully fueled, you can turn your back on civilization for a few days without any problem. That gives you time to visit isolated and original places off the beaten track.
You do not have to sleep next to, under or over people whose snoring keeps you awake all night, you neither have to wait in the kitchen until a hotplate is free and you can choose which view you want for breakfast every day. In the evening you can share a bottle of wine with your favorite person and listen to your choice of music undisturbed.
Cost: Clearly, pleasure has its price! But that is justified when considering that you flew here to explore the country. And when you start calculating, in most cases you will find that it is not more expensive than other options. When you rent a camper or a motorhome you pay a lot at the beginning, but ultimately you can live cheaply from the day of pick-up. With other options, the bad awakening often comes on the way. Especially with several people, it quickly becomes the cheapest option to rent a camper or motorhome. However, this is only the case with certified vehicles because non certified vehicles have to stay at campsites.
Buying A Car or Camper / Motorhome in New Zealand or Australia
Traveling with your own camper or motorhome is the dream of many travelers. But you should only choose this option if you really stay in the country for a long time. Good research, some test drives, appointments with the mechanic, comparison of insurance, registrations and a lot more is necessary once you decide to buy a vehicle. Even if you claim to be an optimist, you should plan two to three weeks for this process.
If you want to sell the car or the vehicle at a reasonably good price, you should allow for a lot more time at the end of your trip. Three to four weeks are realistic.
When you buy a vehicle, you always come across the phenomenon that everyone wants to sell their car at the exact price they paid for. This calculation logically does not work in the long run, because a car that has circled Australia three times in the past three years is simply not worth much anymore. Watch out for backpacker cars. The mileage literally can make you faint, since you would never find such figures in Germany. What then often happens, is that the vehicle decides to call it a day rather than to drive another round. The money is then gone. In case we are referring to a cheap car it might not be as aggravating as it is considering the following example:
You decided to invest in a high-quality vehicle because you don't want to risk spending your vacation in a garage. Unfortunately, you happen to get into an accident right at the beginning of your trip which pretty much takes apart your camper. It wasn't your fault for which you are relieved. However, you find out that regulations in the country are different. As the other driver has no insurance because it is not a requirement, he simply cannot pay you. There you are - without money and without a car. What a disaster!
When buying a car, of course there remain the costs for overnight stays. This also applies to purchased campers, because hardly any private vehicle is certified as self-contained. With a purchased camper you are dependent on campsites!
Having your own vehicle can be worthwhile if you have been in the country for at least half a year and are willing to familiarize yourself properly with this matter. You should be aware of how to spot a leaky cylinder head, dry an oil leak by yourself and distinguish initial removeable rust from penetrative rust. In short, you should know your way around. Otherwise it's better to stay away from it, as you risk spending your entire vacation only buying and selling while in addition, with other insurance regulations you risk maneuvering yourself into unexpected, uncapped costs.
If you have any questions about buying a car, we will be happy to advise you. We bought and sold various campers and motorhomes in New Zealand and partially equipped them ourselves. In summary, you could say that we learned quite a bit from this.