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New Zealand Travel Tips & Questions

How much should I spend on buying a camper?

The answer to this question really depends on quite what your needs are and of course your own budget. It also depends on what time of year you are buying.

Typically speaking the smaller the vehicle - such as the car/van type combos – will be the cheapest but be realistic. Many have found to their cost (and sometimes at the loss of a relationship) that the romanticism of the road-tripping idea and the reality of spending a lot of time in a very limited space (especially if the weather isn't very kind) are something very different. Transversely, smaller campers can go anywhere a car can and are often easier to drive on the New Zealand roads which can be extremely challenging at times. It is all about balance.

Age of vehicle will also impact on the price but here there is some good news. While elsewhere in the world older vehicles can spell nothing but trouble New Zealand has a ton of highly reliable aging vehicles on the road. In the camper category the older type most reliable makes tend to be Toyota Hiaces (by far the most common camper-van type of choice with the backpacker set) and Nissan Vanettes.

Be aware that seasons significantly affect prices. In the summer (Dec to Feb) it is a sellers' market and prices will be higher while winter (Jun to Aug) is a buyers' market with the lowest prices. If you buy in winter and sell in summer it is even possible sometimes to make a profit.

One very important thing to factor in when looking at vehicles to buy is whether or not they are certified as self-contained. While generally such vehicles sell for higher prices they are the ones that can camp in a vast number of free or very low cost camp-sites and you only need to stay at a few of these to quickly recoup any extra money you have paid initially.

As prices vary so enormously it pays to do a bit of advance research before shelling out for a camper to get some idea of average prices for the size of vehicle you want and the time of year. Sometimes it is possible to bag a real bargain if some traveller has left it to the last minute to sell his camper and is getting desperate.