Cheap Car Rental Nelson Airport

Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar, Omega, Ace & more. Big savings on Nelson Airport car hire. No booking fees. Instant confirmation. Lowest prices.

There's a range of rental companies operating at Nelson Airport. Big-name international brands like Avis and Hertz are trusted and familiar, but there's also a number of independent local brands, many offering very competitive prices. 

The good news is that you'll find them all here.

We bring together all the leading rental vehicle brands, as well as many of the independents - meaning you don't have waste time trawling the Internet for options or pay exorbitant walk-up prices at the airport rental counter.

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.

Save money on your car rental like thousands of other smart travellers

Just wanted to say thank you. We had a fantastic NZ trip and saved heaps

Customer review - Cheryl Rhodes

Cheryl Rhodes

Great to deal with. We got a really good price on a Yaris that was much less than anywhere else. No complaints!

Customer review - Stu Clements

Stu Smith

This made getting around New Zealand so much easier than when I was last here.

Customer review - Jim Cook

Jim Cook

Maximum Choice. Bests Deals.

  • All the best deals in one place from up to 11 different rental brands at Nelson Airport
  • Instantly compare the best deals. No need to waste your time checking out multiple websites.
  • Easily filter results by price, brand, or type of vehicle.
  • And if you're finding it difficult to decide, check out the customer ratings to hear from those who've been there and done that.

Why Rent

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 constrains 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 $17.

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.  

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.

Petrol Stations

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

Your Options...

You have the choice of renting from 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 substantial savings. It does mean however you will have to take extra time with the shuttle transfer. Transfers are  usually complimentary, but limited to opening hours, so check when you book.

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. Invariably the fees are higher than off airport rental companies to offset the costs of being at the airport. 

If you're arriving you'll find car hire counters situated just inside the terminal entrance on the left, opposite Air NZ. This will eventually change when the new Nelson Airport terminal is opened.

Offices are manned during flight arrivals and departures, if unattended you will find a phone available on their counter to contact them direct.

 Vehicles are conveniently located in designated car parks for rental cars just over the road from the terminal entrance. When returning your car the keys can be deposited in the drop-off boxes situated on the rental car counters if the offices are closed.

On-airport brands we offer:

Off-Airport Rental Brands

"Off-Airport" companies don't have check-in desks within the airport terminals. Instead, they provide free shuttle services and will collect you from the airport. This is arranged when you make your booking & you'll need to let them know when you've arrived.

Whilst off-airport options aren't as fast or convenient as on-airport rentals, they usually are cheaper.

Off-airport brands we offer: 

Average economy rental price

  • Jan $62
  • Feb $69
  • Mar $58
  • Apr $51
  • May $46
  • Jun $46
  • Jul $44
  • Aug $43
  • Sep $43
  • Oct $49
  • Nov $49
  • Dec $55

Average rental duration

  • Jan 6 days
  • Feb 6 days
  • Mar 6 days
  • Apr 6 days
  • May 5 days
  • Jun 5 days
  • Jul 5 days
  • Aug 5 days
  • Sep 5 days
  • Oct 6 days
  • Nov 5 days
  • Dec 5 days
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The Best Deals From 11 Car Rental Brands At Nelson Airport

  • Lowest prices
  • Huge choice of brands
  • No booking fees
  • No credit card fees
  • Instant confirmations
  • Free cancellation on most cars
  • Free amendments on most cars
  • 24/7 customer service
Ace Rental Cars
Omega Rental Cars
East Coast
Inter Rent
Go Rentals
4WD rental

Great value - thanks. Definitely will recommend you to my friends.

Customer review - Phil Dwyer

Phil Dwyer

I found your site when my mother needed a rental car for her visit. Easy and quick to use, and she was very happy.

Customer review - Paula Connor

Paula Connor

Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!

Customer review - Tim Brown

Tim Brown

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....

Nelson car rental background

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 round 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).

Farewell Spit

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 to be found here). An added bonus is the historic Cape Farewell lighthouse, originally built in 1869.

On one side of the spit you’ll face open sea, and on the other, enjoy calm sheltered waters. The Spit Track takes in both sides of the headland. Starting from the carpark 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 a 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 - horse treks are another option here.

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 as well as 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, as well as some representing historic exhibitions. The World of WearableArt was in fact pioneered by local 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 gallery, highlighting the world of 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. An aluminium ribbon wall, stretching to six metres high, is reminiscent of flowing silk. Open daily, the museum is an easy 10 minute drive from the city centre and close to the airport.

Rabbit Island

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 the 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.

You’ll see lots of sea birds and waders like herons and shags as the tide ebbs and flows. 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 - 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.