Interested in renting a camper? Don’t know what to expect? Learn from our experience with our Kea Campers and Campervans review.
When we first started planning our New Zealand Trip I had no idea how we were going to get around. We considered a tour group, bussing, and renting a car – all of which had their plusses and minuses. But, when we received our press kit from Tourism New Zealand and I saw the countless ads for campervans I knew I had found our mode of transportation. It seemed from the press kit that everyone in New Zealand traveled by camper. (And, after traveling in New Zealand we found that many people do.)
Now all we had to do was choose a company. Pretty much all of the companies were offering 50% off to media (lucky for us!), so we started looking at the campervan designs, reviews, and environmentally friendliness.
Kea Campers and Campervans Review
Kea Campers was the company that stood our among the companies as excelling in all the categories we were looking for. Most notably, they are certified by Qualmark as Enviro-Gold. We later found out they also sponsor the educational Kiwi Bird and Kea Birds exhibits at Rainbow Springs. Kea manufactures all their own campers locally in New Zealand and had great campervan design options.
We settled on a 2 berth shower and toilet deluxe campervan.
No hidden costs
Thankfully, unlike many car rental companies, all the costs were included in their pricing, with no hidden costs. The off season fee was only $80 NZ (about $60 US)/ day before our discount, so it was an extremely economical mode of both transport and accommodation).
Having never even set foot in a motorhome or campervan before we arrived at Kea, I honestly had no idea what to expect. The pictures on their site looked amazing, but to be honest, I was worried what we would end up with.
High-quality, clean camper
Without a doubt the Kea campervan exceeded my expectations by a long shot. The camper was brand new and was fully equipped with absolutely everything we needed for sleeping, driving, and cooking in our camper. The interior was well decorated and most importantly the van was well organized. We could fit our luggage easily in the van and it was pretty easy to set up each night and take down each morning. I truly enjoyed the campervan experience in good part because of the quality of our Kea Camper.
Benefits of camping
In addition to usually being greener than staying in a hotel, there is the convenience factor. One of my favorite memories of our trip was pulling up to the Hahei Beach in Coromandel Peninsula, opening up the back of the campervan to overlook the water, cooking an amazing meal to overlook the ocean, and then just relaxing at the campsite. We wouldn’t have experienced this without our camper.
Friendly, helpful staff
I also greatly appreciated the friendliness of the Kea Campers staff. They served us coffee and tea, chatted with us, and answered all of our questions. They didn’t seem to be in any rush – a stark comparison to US car rental staff. They helped us plan our route and showed us all of the maps and information that was included with our van packet. The Kea representative also provided stellar wine recommendations.
Things I would know for next time
- Unpack and leave your suitcase at the rental site. When we were getting ready to leave Kea, the representative said we could unpack our suitcases and leave them at the rental site. We only had 1 backpack and 1 carry-on sized rolling suitcase and so declined her offer. Luckily we were able to fit our suitcase in one of the compartments – but next time I would unpack and leave my suitcase behind to free up a little more room in the campervan.
- It takes about an hour to get an overview of the van. I had thought we would pick up the van and quickly be on our way. In fact, it took an hour or so to get a full overview of the van with all of it’s accessories and fill out paperwork. (Not including transport time from the airport to Kea.) So, don’t expect to be somewhere by lunch as it may take awhile to get going.
- You probably don’t need a shower, but a toilet is nice. We didn’t free camp (parking anywhere and setting up camp) in New Zealand as none of the areas we were in allowed free camping. Because we always stayed at holiday parks, which had full bathroom facilities, we didn’t really need the shower in the campervan. That said, it was convenient to have a toilet onboard so we didn’t have to run outside to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Campervans are 6-speed stick shift (manual transmission). Growing up, my first car was a stick shift. Unfortunately, Kimberly’s was not. So, I did all the driving around New Zealand. I don’t love to drive and appreciate rotating now and then, so the fact that the camper was manual got old at times. Further, it was a 6-speed. Having only ever driven 5-speeds, the different shifting pattern took some time getting used to.
- New Zealand is hilly with narrow, windy roads. Our first destination on the North Island was the Coromandel Peninsula. Part of the reason this area is so stunning is because it’s sandwiched between mountains and the ocean – thus making for a lot of windy, narrow, hilly roads. Lets just say that upshifting and downshifting from 25 to 40 to 100 to 30 kph around these roads was – tense – at times.
- Kea Campers charges the insurance deductible to your insurance card and then reverses it at the end of the rental. Luckily, I had known about this ahead of time and so we were prepared to put the large (up to $5,000) deductible on our card. Our primary travel card, a Capital One card, doesn’t charge any conversion fees for traveling abroad. However, if your company does charge a conversion fee, you could end up paying a good amount in conversion fees. Of course, our entire deductible was refunded when we returned the camper, but having this much on your credit card is something worth knowing about ahead of time.
Kea Campers and Campervans review to help make your decision
I would rent from Kea again in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t have a second thoughts recommending Kea Campers to anyone traveling to New Zealand (or anywhere else they serve – which I believe to be Australia and South Africa.) They even sell their vans – and if I was considering retiring in New Zealand I might just buy one and drive around for my entire retirement.
Full Disclosure: Kea provided us with 50% our rental experience. Our airfare to New Zealand was paid for by Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand gave us media passes.