nissan caravan campervan at milford sound in new zealand with mitre peak in background on a sunny day
Campervans,  New Zealand

7 Tips For Buying A Campervan In New Zealand

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This post shares my insights and top tips on finding and buying a secondhand campervan in New Zealand.

A road trip journey through New Zealand’s breathtaking landscapes is a dream shared by many travellers. From the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the pristine shores of the North Island beaches, New Zealand is a country that beckons adventurers seeking amazing experiences. There is no better way to immerse yourself in New Zealand’s amazing landscapes than travelling the scenic highways in your very own campervan.

Buying a campervan in New Zealand is an exciting adventure in itself. There are so many options for all styles and budgets. But navigating the process can be daunting, especially for new travellers to New Zealand. It can feel overwhelming to choose the right type of campervan, negotiate the best price and understand the legal requirements of the buying process.

But fear not! In this post, I provide my valuable insights and tips to help you gain the knowledge and confidence needed to make your campervan dreams a reality.

I bought a campervan in New Zealand and spent more than 3 wonderful years travelling the whole North and South Islands. I had the best experience, largely due to the campervan that I decided to purchase. It was within my budget, comfortable and well-equipped for all my adventures, and never caused me any problems on the road.

Here are seven of my top tips to help you when looking at campervans for sale and to buy in New Zealand.

fiachra relaxing in a camping chair next to our nissan caravan campervan next to lake ohau with wild flowers on a sunny day
Relaxing at Lake Ohau in summer – © Wild Lovely World

7 Top Tips For Finding & Buying A Campervan In New Zealand 🚐🇳🇿

Essential reading for buying a campervan in New Zealand:

Read my New Zealand Travel Guide for all my blog posts and tips for travel in New Zealand!

In my Travel Resources page I share everything I use and love – check it out here for great tips on accommodation bookings, tours, travel money, insurance and more.

1. Auckland, Christchurch & Wellington Are The Best Locations For Buying A Campervan

auckland skyline fullers ferry waiheke island new zealand
Photo by Eric Feng on Unsplash

The best places for buying and selling campervans in New Zealand are the major cities – Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

Auckland is the largest city in the North Island and Christchurch is the second biggest city in New Zealand and the largest in the South Island.

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, and although it is not as well travelled by international visitors, there is a large Kiwi and international community that calls Wellington their home.

Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington all have major international airports. Auckland remains the largest hub for international arrivals and departures in the North Island. Similarly, Christchurch is the main airport for international flights in the South Island.

Many travellers are buying and selling campervans at the start and end of their trip to New Zealand. Most will begin or finish their adventure in Auckland or Christchurch and will be looking to buy or sell their campervan.

Therefore, basing yourself in Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington while you are finding a campervan to buy will give you a lot more options. You will have a wide selection of campervans to choose from in one of these cities.

2. Be Open To Browsing Many Different Marketplaces

Be adventurous in your search for a campervan to buy in New Zealand by exploring various marketplaces.

To find a campervan to buy, you will need to use different sources for finding secondhand campervans for sale. This could be different websites such as classified ads pages or Facebook Groups.

I have created two Facebook groups to help buyers and sellers for campervans in Auckland and Christchurch:

campers for sale in auckland - buy/sell your van on north island, new zealand - wild lovely world facebook group
Campervans For Sale In Auckland – Facebook Group

There are also city car markets in places like Auckland where you can browse many vehicles for sale in person and speak directly with the sellers. The most popular is the Auckland City Car Fair which happens every Sunday morning in Parnell.

Using multiple methods will broaden your scope and increase your chance of finding the perfect fit for your travel needs.

This post will tell you 6 ways you can find secondhand campervans for sale in New Zealand. I suggest you use all of these different methods to give you the best chance of success!

Related Read: 6 Places To Find Secondhand Campervans For Sale | New Zealand

3. Keep A Record Of Your Viewings & Top Picks

During your search for your campervan, keep a record of your viewings and top contenders.

You may need to view a lot of different campervans for sale before you decide which one you might want to buy.

By keeping notes and a record of the ones you have seen, you will be able to record what you liked or didn’t like about them. Helpful things to record are things such as the asking price, location of the vehicle, mileage, tax (rego) and WOF details, internal layout, and inclusions such as camping equipment and the seller’s contact details.

When searching for a campervan to buy in Auckland, I kept a simple spreadsheet in Google Docs to keep my information organised. I included all of the information I suggested above, including links to the adverts so that I could easily refer back.

It is also very helpful to take photos of campers you have viewed so that you can remember them better later on. In the moment of viewing a campervan, you may be overwhelmed and not have the opportunity to take it all in. By taking photos you can remind yourself of what it was like and also compare different campervans you have viewed against each other.

By keeping notes along with photos of the vehicles that you have seen, it will help you to make an informed choice.

nissan caravan campervan picnic at lake wanaka in new zealand
Campervan picnic at Lake Wanaka, New Zealand – © Wild Lovely World

4. Dedicate Your Time To The Process

Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to the process of searching and buying a campervan in New Zealand.

Finding the right campervan will take a lot of patience and dedication, often spanning several weeks. It took me 2 weeks of constant viewings to find my campervan in Auckland, New Zealand. I had to see a lot of different campervans from a variety of sellers to find the right one.

Persistence is key. It may take you several weeks to find the right campervan for you. Finding a vehicle to buy can be a long and tiresome process. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the right campervan right away. Keep going and you will get there eventually.

This post will give you more information about the process of choosing the right model campervan for you. The post shares the most popular campervan models for sale in New Zealand along with pros and cons for each vehicle type.

Related Read: 16 Most Popular Campervan Models For Backpackers To Buy | New Zealand

5. Before Purchasing, Do A Thorough Check Of The Vehicle

If you have found a campervan you would like to buy, that is great! However, it is essential to do a thorough check of the vehicle before committing to the purchase.

Everything may look okay on the outside or it may have a beautiful campervan interior, but it is important to check the engine for mechanical faults and also look at the structural integrity of the vehicle for signs of damage and corrosion.

It is crucial to inspect everything about the vehicle to ensure you are buying a sound vehicle that won’t give you any problems. If you are not sure about something, ask the seller questions and seek an opinion from a trusted family member or friend who has vehicle knowledge.

For further peace of mind, it is a good idea to consider opting for a Pre-Purchase Inspection Check. This check will give you a professional assessment of the vehicle’s condition by a qualified person, to reduce risk and uncertainty. It is a simple process to get a pre-purchase inspection done in New Zealand. When buying my campervan, I was so glad to have a pre-purchase inspection done before committing to buying, because it helped me know that my campervan was mechanically sound. Find out more about the process and how to get a Pre-Purchase Inspection in this blog post.

Related Read: 10 Essential Things To Know Before You Buy A Campervan | New Zealand

6. Always Negotiate On The Price

Negotiation is a difficult skill to master, but it is key when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. The listed price often serves as a starting point and gives you as a buyer an opportunity to secure a more favourable deal.

Besides, the asking price of the vehicle is more like a wish list for the seller. Most sellers are open to negotiation and expect it when making a sale. This means it should not be a scary process, and just by asking you will often be able to get a much fairer price than it is listed for.

Negotiating effectively is something I am still working on and trying to improve. But I have learned that it is always worth trying. When I was buying my campervan in New Zealand, I was able to lower the price by $1000, and I was very happy with that.

The worst that can happen is the seller will say no. In that case, explain to them that you need time to think about it some more and then you can weigh up the options. Is the vehicle worth the amount they are asking for? Is it within your budget? Do you have other campervans you are interested in?

When purchasing your vehicle, you also need to consider how long you will be keeping it and if you will be planning to re-sell it in the future. Many short-term travellers to New Zealand will buy a campervan to travel in only to re-sell it 6 months later when they go home. In that case, you will need to think about how much you are willing to invest now and whether are you able to make a return on your investment in the future.

To help in negotiating the price, it is a good idea to do research into the current market value of the models you are looking at. Considering factors such as age, mileage, condition of the vehicle and other options on the market will give you the knowledge to negotiate with confidence.

lauren nissan caravan campervan van life new zealand
Lauren with her campervan in New Zealand! – Ⓒ Wild Lovely World

7. Educate Yourself On The Process Of Buying A Campervan In New Zealand

There can be a lot to think about when buying a campervan in New Zealand, especially if you are from a different country.

Buying a campervan in New Zealand is a relatively simple process. But there are important steps you must follow and legal requirements to meet.

Understanding the paperwork, vehicle taxes and maintenance requirements is essential. For example, every vehicle in New Zealand must pay a registration tax. Diesel vehicles also need to pay mileage charges.

Vehicles must also be compliant with safety and maintenance standards and have a valid Warrant of Fitness.

When purchasing a vehicle second-hand, you will also need to complete change of ownership documents with the New Zealand Transport Agency.

This post is a comprehensive guide and will give you detailed information on everything you need to know about the campervan buying process in New Zealand.

Once you know the steps and legal requirements to follow for buying a vehicle in New Zealand, you will be able to navigate the process with confidence.

Best Tips For Finding & Buying A Campervan In New Zealand – Thanks For Reading!

In this post, I have shared my best tips for finding and buying a campervan in New Zealand. Reading my other blog posts and guides on buying a campervan in New Zealand will help you on this journey further. I hope that they help you to find the campervan of your dreams! Enjoy your road trip in New Zealand! – Lauren x

wild lovely world thanks for reading end of blog post
Thanks for reading! 🙂 – © Wild Lovely World

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Lauren is a coffee and cat obsessed travel writer from the U.K., specialising in solo female, couple travel and budget backpacking. She has previously lived in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England and Scotland. Follow her adventures around the world on her blog WildLovelyWorld.com