Cheap Car Rental New Zealand Wide
Big savings on New Zealand car hire
Compare the best car hire deals from over 25 rental brands in locations across New Zealand. Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar, Omega, Go Rentals, Ezi, Ace & many more.
Good comparison site. Saves time.
Great value! I'll be telling my friends.
Best site to compare car rental prices and get the best offers
Shopping around for the best rental car deal & visiting one website after another to compare prices can be frustrating. There’s a better way!
MatesRates Car Hire makes renting a car easy. With a few clicks you can instantly compare the best deals offered by over 25 different brands at car hire locations throughout New Zealand. If you need to hire a car in the North Island, South Island or both, we can save you time & money!
You'll find some of the cheapest rates on rental cars in Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin, Nelson, the Bay of Islands plus pretty well every other major town and airport around New Zealand.
There are cars for business, cars for families, and cars for backpackers. And campervan rental is also available for amazing road trips around New Zealand.
And at the best prices.
But isn't it cheaper to go direct?
You might expect the prices you see here are what you'd pay by going direct, but with an added markup.
The good news is they're not.
In fact, you'll invariably pay less than by booking direct with a rental company.
That's because the rental companies are all here in one place competing for your business. Our comparison engine enables you to instantly compare car rental companies side-by-side. So to win your business, they give us their best prices. Savings that get passed on to you!
And besides saving money, you'll also save time not needing to visit one website after another to compare deals.
Brands you can trust
Unlike some other car rental comparison websites, we don't limit your options to only a handful of car hire brands. Here you'll find all the well known international brands, plus many independent New Zealand car hire brands. That means you get maximum choice and lower prices.
- Big Value
- Drive NZ
- Go Rentals
- Yes Rentals
Great value! I'll be telling my friends.
I tried Mates Rates after hearing some positive things. Was not disappointed! You can spend a lot of time searching for a rental car, but found the best deal there
Good comparison site. Saves time.
Why Choose Us
Bookings are powered by one of the world's biggest car rental comparison engines. It's booked over 2.8 million rentals and hundreds of bookings are made daily.
Making your booking is simple and quick. Usually bookings are confirmed instantly. This means you can get on with organising the rest of your trip and not worry about vehicle availability.
If things need to change, free amendments and free cancellations apply for most cars. We also offer some great deals on car rental insurance if you need this.
No booking charges
What you see is what you pay. No booking charges for rental cars.
Apart from any deposit requirements when you make your booking, you pay the rental firm directly for your vehicle when you collect it.
No credit card charges
You won't get hit with credit card charges for payments made on this site.
[Note: some rental car suppliers may charge a credit card fee for any amounts payable on arrival. These are specified by each rental brand - to view, click the Useful Info link for any vehicle you're interested in on the booking results page.]
Some - but not all - operators require payment of a deposit at the time of booking. Deposits are refundable for cancellations made prior to a defined time. This varies by supplier and is advised at time of booking. For many, it's 72 hours before pickup.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not really possible to provide a meaningful answer to this question. Car rental rates in New Zealand vary widely and prices depend on a range of factors. These include the pick-up location; the time of year; vehicle availability; the rental company; its depot location (on-airport or off-airport); the make and model of vehicle, and its age.
The lowest prices are older compact and economy-sized cars from local NZ operators with ‘off-airport’ depots. Their prices typically start from around NZ $40 a day. At the other end of the scale are the near-new, low-mileage vehicles from ‘on-airport’ international car rental brands. These can cost around four times more than equivalent-sized cars from the cheapest budget operators.
To find a rental car that fits your budget and your needs, you need to compare apples with apples. An easy way to do that is using our search engine to instantly compare car hire deals. You can quickly find what you need by using filters to sort results by price, vehicle type, vehicle age, rental company and depot location. You can also see each rental company’s reputation based on user reviews.
The best way to secure the lowest price is to book as early as possible – generally, prices get higher the closer you leave it to pick up date. And while you won’t want to pay more than you need to, bear in mind you get what you pay for. Spending a few extra dollars can go a long way in terms of quality, particularly at the lower price end.
Generally, the cheapest car rental brands are the most popular. At airports, the cheapest deals are offered by "off-airport" brands. Overall, the most popular "off-airport" rental brands booked through MatesRates are:
- Snap Rentals
- Big Value (Omega)
The most popular "on-airport" rental brands booked through MatesRates are:
Prices depend on a range of factors including rental location, time of the year, how early you book, the age and type of vehicle you’re renting, and the length of hire. This means that at different times of the year the brand with the cheapest price will vary at different airports. Use the search widget to find the best deals.
With a valid driving licence, most rental firms will lease their cars to anyone 21 years or older. However, if you are aged 21-25 you may see some surcharges. Some companies require that drivers be aged 25 or older. Another common requirement is that drivers have had their licence for at least a year before the time of booking.
To get yourself on the road, you will need the following:
- A current driver’s licence from your home country or
- An International Driving Permit (IDP)
- IMPORTANT: If you do not have an international licence, and your licence is not in English, then you must carry an English translation of your licence (issued by an approved translator). You’ll need to show the translation so that the rental car company can check what class of licence you hold. If you have a licence but no translation, you may not be allowed to continue driving if you are stopped by the police. NZTA approved translators can be found here.
How you may pay varies depending on the company you’re renting from, but no companies will accept cash and none will let you leave without your providing a valid credit card (some will take debit cards as payment). Typically, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, China Union Pay, or Union Pay International credit cards are accepted. Depending on the car rental firm, a booking deposit may be charged when you make your reservation. When you collect your car you will need to present a credit card against which any rental charge balance and other fees will be charged.
Nobody wants to be surprised by unexpected fees, so when you make your booking be sure to check on the following:
- Mileage limits – most of the time you’ll have unlimited kilometres, but it’s worth checking.
- Cancellation fees – When you have to change plans, you may be charged a portion of the rental fee as a penalty. You may need to pay anywhere from 10% to 50% of the total cost, depending on when you cancel – leave it to the last minute and you could be paying half the hire cost for a car you’ll never drive. Let the hire company know as soon as you can, and be sure to have their contact information handy!
- Some rental companies charge airport fees to recoup the cost of having offices at those particular locations. Often these aren't apparent until you start making your booking reservation and mean you end up paying more than the price initially displayed. (NB Any airport fees are are included in the rental fees displayed on this website, so no nasty surprises).
- Some rental companies charge booking fees. As with airport fees, often these aren't apparent until you start making your booking reservation and mean you end up paying more than the price initially displayed. (NB there are no booking fees for rental cars booked through this website, so the price you see is the price you pay).
- Refuelling charges. Fill up your tank before drop-off. If it’s not full, expect to pay a premium for having the rental company refuel your vehicle.
- If you are running late or if you are planning on an after-hours return, be aware there are likely additional charges for out-of-hours returns (how much varies by company).
- There are typically extra fees for additional drivers (and higher fees when any drivers are 21-25 years of age.
- If you want any extras, such as a GPS, kids booster seats, snow chains or a roof rack these normally incur additional charges. We recommend pre-booking any extras you require at the time you make your reservation. If you wait until you pick up your vehicle from the depot extras may not be available. And if they are, it adds time before you can hit the road.
- Present a copy of your paperwork including a print-out of your reservation voucher
- Have your passport, payment method and drivers licence ready
- If you don’t already have insurance that covers the excess charges which apply in the event of an accident or damage to the car, consider purchasing CDW insurance. As noted earlier, there are alternatives which can save you money and provide more cover
- Don't allow yourself to be rushed and do an inspection of the vehicle before accepting it. Note any existing damage. It's a good idea to take photos with your phone so there's no debate about pre-existing damage when you return the car.
- Make sure the fuel gauge is full. If it's not, take a photo of the gauge.
- If the vehicle has any problems or is not what you reserved tell the rental company staff before you accept it.
Good question but, unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Each company has its own policies and requirements. In New Zealand, as a general rule, these factors will influence how much is put on hold:
- Age of the driver (higher bonds are required for drivers under 25)
- If you have opted for and purchased additional insurance coverage
- Whether you have paid with a debit card or credit card (as there are higher holds for debit cards).
Rental car insurance is a topic misunderstood by many people and frequently the source for complaints. Let’s face it – insurance is deadly dull, but getting it wrong can be a costly mistake.
Here’s information that will equip you to make the right decisions & not get ripped off or be out of pocket for substantial costs in the event of an accident.
When you hire a rental vehicle your charges normally include base insurance (Collision Damage Waiver or CDW) for the vehicle. However, as with any insurance policy, an excess applies. This the amount you are obliged to pay should you be involved in an accident or should there be damage to the vehicle.
The excess amount varies by rental firm, the type of vehicle, and the renter’s age. Usually, it’s $2,000-$3,000 for cars, but for some vehicles (such as campervans) the excess can be as much as $5,000-$7,000!
Your car hire company will charge your credit card an amount equivalent to the insurance excess for the vehicle. The amount charged will vary by hire company and vehicle but may be as much as $2,000 – or even higher.
- Some rental firms require full authorisation which means the excess figure is charged against your credit card at the time you collect the vehicle and refunded only once the vehicle has been returned without damage.
- Other companies use pre-authorisation. They don’t charge your card when you collect the vehicle but are authorised to make a charge if the vehicle is returned damaged.
For just this reason, be sure to take before and after pictures when collecting and returning your vehicle.
No matter how good a driver you may be, it’s risky being liable for insurance excess. The good news is you can reduce this risk by taking extra insurance.
And extra insurance is something car rental firm staff will always try to hard sell you when you collect your rental car. Don’t let yourself be railroaded into buying insurance you don’t need. Some staff in car rental depots can be quite aggressive pushing their excess waiver insurance because of the commissions they get.
Excess Waiver insurance offered by car rental companies can reduce you excess liability down to as much as zero.
While that's appealing, it's important to know the cover can be limited and may exclude things like tyres, windscreens, and underbody damage for example. So ensure you check what is and isn't covered before you get pressured into buying. The other point to realise is that excess waiver cover is charged at a set rate per day. The rate can be shockingly high and substantially add to the cost of renting a car.
An alternative option to cover against insurance excess charges is DriveEasy which is offered on bookings made through this website. It's a protection policy provided by RentalCover.com which provides reimbursement cover for excess charges incurred in the event the car is damaged or stolen.
The advantages of this compared to buying excess reduction cover when you collect a rental vehicle is that it includes wider cover than most car insurance companies offer and is substantially cheaper.
Of course, like all things, there are pros and cons. The disadvantage of DriveEasy is that you first have to pay any excess charged by the rental company and then claim them back through DriveEasy which usually are processed in the week a claim is submitted. You can see more details if you want here.
So do you really need to buy insurance?
The short answer is yes. Accidents happen, even to the best of drivers. The cost of paying insurance excess if you’re not covered can be substantial and ruin your trip. But there are other options to the excess waiver insurance you may feel pressured to buy when you collect your rental car.
Be aware that you may already have adequate insurance, making any extra insurance the car rental firm is trying to sell you a waste of money. If you have travel insurance then your policy may include car rental excess cover. But don’t assume it does without checking to see what it actually covers. Also, some credit cards provide limited insurance when used to pay for travel purchases. Again check – in many cases, coverage is quite limited.
Your car hire company will charge your credit card an amount equivalent to the insurance excess for the vehicle. The amount charged will vary by hire company and vehicle but may be as much as $2,000 – or even higher. Some rental firms require full authorisation: the excess figure is charged against your credit card at the time you collect the vehicle and refunded only once the vehicle has been returned without damage.
Other companies use pre-authorisation. This means they don’t charge your card when you collect the vehicle but are authorised to make a charge if the vehicle is returned damaged.
When you make a booking, you should be told about these charges – and if you’re not, don’t be afraid to ask. One way to avoid the hassle altogether is to take out the company’s Excess Waiver coverage which protects the vehicle and can reduce your credit card hold amount to near zero. Coverage is charged at a set rate per day and can add up. However, do be aware that you may already have adequate insurance through either your credit card company or other sources, making any extra coverage a waste of money.
- Avoid last minute stress and allow sufficient time for returning the rental vehicle if you're catching a flight. This is especially important if the rental depot is not at the airport and requires a shuttle transfer to the airport terminal.
- Fill the fuel tank before getting to the depot
- Note the mileage
- Do a quick tidy up of the vehicle, getting rid of large rubbish and food items to avoid cleaning fees
- Double check to ensure that you have left nothing behind. Look in seat pockets and under seats to make sure you don’t forget mobile phone charger cords, sunglasses, and so on.
- Take photos of the vehicle (inside and out) so you have a record of the vehicle condition. This is especially important if there's any damage to the vehicle.
- Make sure that you have returned any extras (such as the GPS and kids car seats)
- Return the keys and any paperwork.
- Road distances and speed limits are posted in kilometres. The speed limit on open roads is usually 100km/h (approximately 60 mph). In urban areas the normal speed limit is 50 km/h – unless roadside signs indicate otherwise.
- Red lights mean stop, even when turning into traffic
- Police cars are common (both marked and unmarked) and there are plenty of speed cameras on the roads.
- You must drive on the left side! This can take some getting used to if you are not already driving on the left. Put a post-it note on your dashboard as a reminder – it may sound silly but it works.
- Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times, in both front and rear seats. Car seats and booster seats are required for small children. Most rental companies have these available to rent during your trip. International best practice recommends the use of an appropriate child restraint (or booster seat) until your child reaches 148 cm tall or is 11-years-old. Child restraint and medical professionals recommend that you keep your baby in a rear-facing restraint until as old as practicable, at least until they are two years of age. Under New Zealand law, all children under seven years of age must use an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size. Children aged seven must be secured in a restraint if one is available in the vehicle.
- Don’t use your mobile phone while driving – it’s illegal.
- Drink driving limits are extremely low in New Zealand – just don’t do it.
- Only overtake other vehicles when it’s safe to do so. Use passing lanes whenever possible, and never cross a solid yellow line on your side of the centre line.
- Driving in New Zealand can often take longer than expected due to winding roads that are typically only two-lane. Take your time – you’ve come to enjoy yourself after all – and try not to drive more than two hours at any stretch without a break.
- Want to familiarise yourself with the road rules before you get behind the wheel of your rental? Visit the NZTA (New Zealand Transit Authority) website.
- For your safety and that of others, don’t make the mistake of driving immediately after you’ve arrived on a long-haul flight. Tragically, accidents involving tourists occur every year because they make this simple mistake. You can find plenty of affordable lodging near major airports to catch your breath and get some rest.
- Some rental firms include a GPS with their cars, but more commonly they come with an extra rental charge that can add up over time. An alternative to renting a GPS is to use Google Maps on your smartphone. The main drawback with this approach is that you could end up incurring significant mobile data roaming charges (as the maps refresh) but reception can be spotty in some areas. One alternative is to install the TomTom navigation app on your phone (it’s free) and then simply download the TomTom NZ navigation map for New Zealand (which costs around NZ$90).
- Car break-ins can be common. Make sure all your belongings are hidden in the boot and keep electronics hidden away and secure.
- Have copies of all of your rental documents, driver’s licence(s) and passport(s).
- Understand the pick-up and drop-off times for your vehicle – some companies charge more for after-hours delivery.
- Make sure to schedule your car pick-up for when you are absolutely ready to hit the road. Choosing a later pick-up time can sometimes save you part of a day’s rental fee.
- Keep in mind that if you don’t have additional drivers signed onto the agreement only the primary driver is allowed to drive the vehicle. It is always a good idea to have a secondary driver if you are able – you can split drive times, but also have an emergency backup if needed.
- Watch for parking signs (especially clear-away zones) to prevent towing, ticketing and wheel clamping.
- The sun in New Zealand is strong so not only will you want to have sunglasses with you, but keep in mind that items (such as make-up, crayons, chocolate, and so on) may melt if your vehicle is sitting in a warm spot for too long.
- In wine-growing regions, the many vineyards make tempting stops but make sure that you have a designated driver.
- If you have hired a campervan or motorhome keep in mind you cannot simply pull off and park for the night. You must look for an approved area to set up for the evening.
- Make sure that everyone in both vehicles is uninjured. Phone 111 if there is a medical emergency (this number works even if your phone is out of credit).
- Note down the names and addresses of third parties and any witnesses.
- Report the accident to police, regardless of estimated damage costs.
- Do not accept blame or insist the other party is at fault.
- Make sure that you get a copy of the police report. You will need to provide this to your rental company.
- Photograph any damage to all vehicle(s) along with registration number(s). If there is nobody at the scene (if, for instance, you’ve damaged a parked car) leave a note and your contact information.
- Most rental companies offer roadside assistance. Phone the rental firm and tell them about the incident and let them know if you need anything (for instance, a new vehicle or overnight lodging). Be aware that there are no guarantees you will get a replacement vehicle, and if you do there may be extra charges for delivery.
Most companies include basic roadside assistance in their rental packages and will provide you with a phone number you can call 24/7 should something go wrong with your vehicle. Typically, basic roadside assistance covers mechanical problems with your vehicle but you can sign up for a premium roadside package that, for an additional fee, covers much more.
Be aware that fuel is very pricey in New Zealand. While prices fluctuate throughout the year, here’s what you can likely anticipate:
- 91 Octane (standard unleaded petrol) - $2.90 per litre
- 95 (premium unleaded) - $3.15 per litre
- Diesel - $2.90 per litre
If you want to save some money at the pump:
- Don’t rent more car than you require. Bigger engines mean more fuel.
- Don’t speed and avoid heavy acceleration and braking, especially on hills.
- Some supermarkets provide fuel discount vouchers with your receipts when you buy groceries.
- Even better – get the free AA Smartfuel card which can give you substantial savings on fuel at BP and Caltex.
- There are a number of free local Android and iOS apps such as Gaspy that show you where to find the best prices for petrol and diesel near you.
- Air conditioning is a big fuel guzzler. Leaving it on all the time will burn through an extra 8-12 percent of your gas.
At petrol stations, most pumps will direct you to enter the amount that you wish to buy (or you can simply select to fill up your tank). You then pump your fuel and proceed inside to pay. However, pay at the pump is becoming available, but is not yet an option everywhere. If you are able to pay at the pump, simply use your debit or credit card and follow the payment instructions. While there are many petrol stations throughout the country, there are fewer in rural areas. Fill up when you can, just to be sure.
Everyone travels at their own pace. While we provide these drive times as a guideline, they assume ideal driving conditions, without stopping for toilet breaks, to eat or to sightsee along the way. Add to these estimates whatever time you think you might need to really enjoy the journey. A good rule of thumb is to add 30% onto anticipated travel times, especially if the weather is an issue.
- Auckland to Bay of Islands – 3 hours 10 minutes
- Auckland to Rotorua – 2 hours 50 minutes
- Auckland to Waitomo – 2 hours 30 minutes
- Auckland to Hobbiton (Hinuera) – 2 hours 15 minutes
- Auckland to Wellington – 7 hours 50 minutes
- Picton to Christchurch – 6 hours 20 minutes
- Christchurch to Queenstown – 6 hours
- Queenstown to Fiordland – 3 hours 45 minutes
You would be hard pressed to find anywhere more spectacular than this little country and both the North Island and the South Island have their own delights. So why choose between them? Given its manageable size, one of the most popular routes is to land in Auckland and to drive through the country, all the way to attractions in the bottom of the South Island. Doing so means you’ll need to take the ferry between Wellington and Picton (with or without your car).
Some rental companies (including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty) do not allow their vehicles to travel on the ferries (as they have depots at both ferry terminals). Make sure you clarify the “do’s and don’ts” with your company before you leave the depot (and before you make your ferry booking). If arranged in advance, for instance, you may be able to get a ride from the rental car depot to the ferry terminal or even leave your car at the ferry terminal car park rather than the depot.
Regardless of rental policy, you may still want to leave your rental car in Wellington and pick up another rental vehicle once you reach the other side. This is usually the cheaper option: you don’t have to pay the fee to transport your vehicle– but you will have to unpack and repack your car. Of course, you need to be sure that you have another car ready and waiting for you in Picton, so book ahead (especially during summer).
Alternatively, take your car on the ferry (assuming your rental company allows it) and then as soon as you get to the other side, you can get on your way. No messing about with luggage, no chance that you left your airline tickets in the glove box of the other car, and no time wasted sorting out a new car at the rental depot.
Considered one of the “great journeys of New Zealand”, the ferry is very comfortable and the passage a leisurely one, giving you plenty of time to kick back with a coffee and snack and watch the stunning scenery go by. Both the Interislander and Bluebridge ferries sail between Wellington and Picton in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds; the journey takes about three hours.
Check the timetables and select what suits you. Fees will depend on the number of people in your party and the size of your vehicle. More information on costs can be found here for the Interislander and here for Bluebridge Ferries.
We left everything to the last minute and were having trouble finding a car. Then we found your site and got a car in Queenstown at a decent rate. Will tell our friends!
Better prices and variety than going direct
Best site to compare car rental prices and get the best offers