Compare Nelson Car Rental Deals
Big savings on car hire at Nelson Airport
Compare the best Nelson Airport car rental deals from 12 rental brands. Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar, Omega, Go Rentals, Ezi, Ace & more.
* Some rental car suppliers may charge a credit card fee for amounts payable on arrival.
Car Hire Options at Nelson Airport
There's a range of car hire companies operating at Nelson Airport. Big-name international brands like Avis and Hertz are well known and trusted. There are also independent local brands offering competitive prices.
The good news is that you'll find them here and can easily compare their best deals.
This means you don't have waste time trawling the Internet looking for options. Or have to pay exorbitant walk-up prices at the airport rental counter.
One of the key reasons for renting a car when you’re visiting Nelson is the freedom and flexibility it offers.
With a rental car you’re free to explore at your own pace and on your schedule - not someone else’s.
Public transport can be great and a real cost saver. BUT the problem is it severely limits where you can go.= And when. If you’ve got limited time, do you want to waste it standing around waiting for buses? We didn’t think so!
Taxis are another option. They give travel flexibility but relying on them can quickly become painfully expensive as fares add up. Nelson Airport is located about 8 km south of Nelson's city centre. A one-way taxi ride into town will cost you about $26.
Low daily rental rates plus unlimited kilometres means that hiring a rental car is usually your most cost effective option and allows you to make the most of your limited time.
We offer some suggestions at the bottom of the page about places around Nelson you might want to visit. Having a rental car makes getting to them easy.
Nelson is one of NZ's most popular holiday destinations so it's a good idea to book your rental car early, especially for travel during peak periods.
On-Airport Rental Brands
"On-Airport" means these rental companies have check-in desks within the airport terminal.
The big advantage of this for you is convenience and speed. Once you've checked in you can jump in your car and get going. No waiting around for transfer vans.
But it does come at a cost. The fees are higher than off airport rental companies to offset the costs of being at the airport.
The car rental kiosks are situated just outside the terminal entrance to the left as you exit the building.
Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty, Europcar & NZ Rent a Car drop off is situated in the Rental car park located to the left after the rental car kiosks as you exit the terminal.
Keys can be deposited in the drop-off boxes situated on the exterior wall of the rental car kiosks if the offices are closed.
Use our price comparison search tool to find the best prices for these on-airport car rental brands at Nelson Airport:
Off-Airport Rental Brands
"Off-Airport" companies don't have check-in desks within the airport. This means you'll need to make your way to their depot to check in and collect your car.
Most provide free shuttle services and will collect you from the terminal. This gets arranged when you make your booking & you'll need to let them know when you've arrived.
Off-airport car hire options aren't as fast or convenient as using on-airport car rentals. But the big advantage is they are usually much cheaper.
Use our price comparison search tool to find the best prices for these off-airport car rental brands at Nelson Airport:
Maximum Choice. Best Deals.
I tried Mates Rates after reading some positive reviews. Was not disappointed! You can spend a lot of time searching for a rental car, but found the best deal there
Best deal we could find after looking at all the rental car websites.
Quick and easy
Best site to compare car rental prices and get the best offers
Easy, I had no problems at all. Prices seemed to be ok. I didn't check others. Definitely recommend.
Better prices and variety than going direct
Best car hire rate I could find. Recommended to a friend and she said same.
Very easy to use. Really good specials for a run around car. Would recommend.
Easy to compare the different rental companies in one place. Lots of choice which is great. Prices seemed cheaper than other sites including when I looked at booking direct
Second time I’ve used MateRates. Always a good deal.
Great value! I'll be telling my friends.
Glad I found your site – we left things to the last minute and couldn’t get a car at a price that made sense. Problem solved!
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!
Easy and efficient. Competitive prices with good choices. Worth a try.
Good comparison site. Saves time.
We booked ahead from Germany. Prices very reasonable, and a good choice of cars. Saved us time and money — would use again.
Thanks for making things easy. Found a 4WD for much less than we had seen on other sites, and booked it — no worries.
Nelson Airport Car Hire Tips
Compare prices of on-airport and off-airport brands. If you're not in a big rush, hiring a vehicle from off-airport rental depots can result in big savings.
But you will have to take extra time with the shuttle transfer. Transfers are usually free, but limited to opening hours, so check when you book.
Driving from the airport
If you're going into central Nelson the most scenic route is through Tahunanui and along the waterfront. This takes around 15 minutes.
Once you've collected your vehicle, drive out of the airport car park and you'll get to a small roundabout. Instead of turning right into Quarantine Road, go straight on Bolt Road for 500 m. At the next roundabout turn right into Parkers Road. After 1km turn left into Muritai Street. This will take you into Tahunanui and along the waterfront into central Nelson (about 4-5 km).
If you're heading South, at the first roundabout turn right into Quarantine Road. After 1km turn right onto State Highway 6 which goes to Richmond and is about 10 minutes drive.
Return with a full tank
If you're dropping off your rental car at Nelson Airport remember to top at a nearby petrol station before returning your vehicle. The extra 5 or 10 minutes this takes will definitely save you money.
Should you return the car with the tank not full then the rental company will charge a high price to top up the tank. These charges can be excessive, such as a $2.50 a litre surcharge on top of the fuel cost. Not a nice surprise to later find this charge on your credit card.
There are several petrol stations located close to the airport, and the Mobile station in Tahunanui is open 24 hours.
Mobile - 565 Main Road Stoke, Stoke
Mobile - 28 Tahunanui Drive, Tahunanui
Caltex - 209 Waimea Rd, Bishopdate
Attractions Near Nelson
A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring the Nelson and Golden Bay areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Nelson you might like to consider checking out. For more ideas, check out the Nelson Tourism website....
Abel Tasman National Park
It may be New Zealand's smallest national park but Abel Tasman National Park is among the most impressive of them all. There’s a myriad of ways to see the park’s mix of sunny beaches, stunning bays and lush greenery — cruising, kayaking, water taxi, snorkelling, swimming, and of course, walking. Along with the beautiful scenery, native wildlife completes the picture. Seals, penguins and gannets can be seen sunbathing and diving (you might even encounter playful dolphins) while the songs of tui and bellbird can be heard reverberating through the trees.
It’s home to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of the 9 Great Walks, which winds its way around cliffs, headlands, forest and beaches. Hikers take 3 to 5 days to complete the trail in full, staying at huts or camping along the way. Many people take it at their own pace, but guided tours are available too. (Note that the track is not a circuit, so you’ll need to organise transport at either end. There are lots of shuttles and water taxi services in operation.) However, you can choose to take on just part of the trail, as much or as little as you fancy. Kayak tours are another popular option — paddling through the crystal-clear waters and observing everything from a different perspective.
To really appreciate the beauty and magnificence on offer here, it’s best to allow a few days to explore. But never fear; if you’ve only got a day in Abel Tasman National Park, try arranging a day trip with a good mix of boating and track walking.
Abel Tasman National Park can be accessed either from Marahau and Kaiteriteri in the south (about an hour’s drive along the coast from Nelson) or from Golden Bay and Totaranui in the north (about 2.5 hours drive from Nelson).
Located at the most northerly point of the South Island, windswept Farewell Spit stretches for a whopping 35km. Nearly 100 species of birds reside here among the ever-shifting sands — it’s a sanctuary for godwits, curlews, and many more (there’s even a gannet colony here). An added bonus is the historic Cape Farewell lighthouse, originally built in 1869.
On one side of the spit you’ll face the open sea, and on the other, enjoy calm sheltered waters. The Spit Track takes in both sides of the headland. Starting from the car park, you’ll cross farmland, head up through the pines, then descend on the other side to Ocean Beach. Continuing on will bring you to the rocks and cliffs of Fossil Point. 4WD safari tours are a popular way to see the spit, as well.
The Farewell Spit is truly unique — rugged and remote. For the intrepid, walking from end to end will take up most of the day.
At the other end of the spit is Wharariki Beach, a breathtaking natural spot. Here, the caves, sand dunes, and waves are all on a big scale! This particular beach is never too crowded, with the walk there taking you through pastures and manuka groves. Visit at low tide to maximise your time strolling along the sands. For those comfortable on horses, riding along the beach is an unforgettable experience and horse treks are an option.
The route to Cape Farewell is a lovely drive from Nelson in your car. As you travel up over Takaka Hill towards Golden Bay, vistas of mountains, valleys and coast open up before your eyes. The trip does take the better part of three hours, so you may prefer to base yourself in Collingwood or Takaka for overnight accommodation.
World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum
The annual World of WearableArt fashion show may be held across the Cook Strait, in Wellington, but it’s in Nelson where you’ll find the permanent collection of avant-garde garments. (Entries are also submitted in Nelson each year, then whittled down as part of the show selection process.)
A local icon, this museum combines two unique but very different attractions. The theatrical World of WearableArt gallery houses dozens of weird and wonderful artistic creations designed to be worn and not just admired. Some are inspired by nature and the outdoors, while others take inspiration from films and popular culture. The entire exhibit changes twice a year; the majority of pieces hail from the most recent season, along with popular exhibits from previous shows. The World of WearableArt was pioneered by local Nelson sculptor Suzie Moncrieff, whose idea has blossomed into an international phenomenon.
Next door, the adjoining Classic Cars museum caters to gearheads, boasting one of the largest private classic car collections down under. The vehicles here have been sourced from all around the world, over the years. Here you’ll find some seriously sought-after motors, many of which have been painstakingly restored.
You’ll also find a cafe with excellent coffee and food, along with a retail store featuring souvenirs such as books, crafts and jewellery. Art lovers will also appreciate the Reflections Art Gallery, which highlights work by contemporary Kiwi artists. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours exploring all there is to offer.
And the museum itself is a sight to behold. It features an aluminium ribbon wall, stretching to six metres high, that is reminiscent of flowing silk. Open daily, the museum is an easy 10-minute drive from the city centre and close to the airport.
If you’re staying in Nelson, Rabbit Island is a convenient 20-minute drive west of the city centre. It is the biggest of a group of sandy islands in the Waimea Estuary, at Tasman Bay. Rabbit Island is also home to rich pine forests, which were planted nearly a century ago.
It’s linked to the mainland, and as you drive over the bridge you may see whitebaiters in action (they favour this particular area of the island!). There’s also a turnoff for Rough Island, where an equestrian park caters for horse riders — cross-country as well as show jumping and dressage. Horses are allowed on the southern end of Rabbit Island’s beach, too.
With soft sands and safe, shallow waters, the beachfront on Rabbit Island is ideal for relaxing family picnics. There are BBQs here available for your use, and there are tables and seats (and, importantly, public toilets) as well. Just be sure to bring your own supplies as there are no shops to buy food from on the island itself. The public reserves are only open during daylight hours.
As the tide ebbs and flows, you’ll see lots of sea birds and waders like herons and shags. And on the back beach, you’ll find a boat ramp as well as a water skiing area.
Keen riders should bring their bikes along. Adjacent to the picnic areas lies a veritable maze of mountain biking tracks to the west where Conifer Park caters for riders of all abilities.
So whether you’re after a laid-back family day out, or an active getaway packed with watersports, horse riding or mountain biking, pack up the car and head out to Rabbit Island.