You don't need to be from overseas to enjoy holidaying around New Zealand in a campervan. Every kiwi should take the chance to fully explore their own backyard at least once, and a campervan offers a cost-effective way of doing this. Tick some goals off your bucket list by having your own motorhome that you can use to explore the country. Keep reading to discover some important tips for buying a campervan.
Is Buying a Campervan a Good Investment?
Whether buying a campervan will be a good investment for you or not depends entirely on how much you think you'll use it. If you're really just planning on using it for one holiday, then you might be better off renting one.
If you're going on a trip that's over two months, or you think that you'll use the campervan continually, then buying is definitely worth the cost.
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Campervan?
Self-Contained vs Not Self-Contained
The first thing you should be aware of is that you will have the choice to buy either a regular campervan or one that's self-contained. The latter is more expensive but can save you a lot of money as you use it. If you own a self-contained campervan, you'll be able to park up anywhere you can legally stop and stay there. This way, you don't need to find a campground offering the facilities you require.
Regular campervans might cost you less upfront, but you will need to pay to stay at camping grounds. This requires more planning, so you have less ability to be spontaneous with your travel plans.
Cheaper to Buy Up North
If you are in the North Island, you may find that you have more options when looking for your campervan. In particular, you’ll find that a lot of the sellers are located in Auckland. Because there are more for sale in that area, it's often easier to grab a bargain. Plus, you'll have a better variety of vans to choose between.
WOF vs COF WOF stands for Warrant of Fitness, which is a regular government-mandated check that your vehicle is safe to drive on the road. Vehicles that are 3500kg or less must get one. The regularity of your WOF will depend on the age of the campervan you end up buying. If the vehicle was manufactured before 1 January 2000, it needs a WOF every six months. If it's newer, it will only need one annually. The cost of each WOF is around $60 - $80.
If your campervan is heavier than 3500kg, then you will instead need a COF (certificate of fitness). This is the equivalent of a WOF but for heavier motor vehicles. If your van requires COFs, you will need to get them every six months, even if your vehicle is new. A COF test might cost you somewhere around $150 – $250.
The majority of motorhomes in New Zealand are lighter than 3500kg, so they only require a WOF. This is due to restrictions in Europe for campervans that weigh over 3500kg – over there, these vehicles have a lower speed limit and even require a specialised licence to drive. Since most people don't want to deal with these rules, manufacturers produce far more motorhomes that weigh 3500kg and below, so there are more of these lighter imports in New Zealand too.
Costs for Running a Campervan
You can't drive your campervan unless it is registered, but the online process to renew a vehicle's registration is super easy. Just enter your motorhome’s details and select how long you'd like to renew the registration for – 3, 6, or 12 months.
You could expect to pay anywhere from $30 – $300 annually for your vehicle's registration, depending on the size and weight.
Insurance is a must-have when you buy any type of vehicle, but even more so for a campervan. Don't get caught short on the road if you get into an accident. If this happens, you'll need to be able to get back on the road as fast as possible with all of your expenses covered. That's why getting insurance for your campervan is well worth the cost.
The amount you'll pay for insurance is highly dependent on how much your vehicle is worth. The cost can therefore vary significantly, from around $400 - $1800 annually.
If you have chosen not to buy a self-contained campervan, you will need to find campgrounds to park at. The price of staying at a campground is dependent on the types of services they offer. Low-cost camping can be around $2 - $15 per night you stay, or you can splurge on luxury campgrounds with excellent facilities that will cost you more.
Fuel is another variable cost factor. The heavier your motorhome is, the more fuel it is likely to chew through. You can expect it to use between 9 – 16 litres of fuel per 100 km. For a heavier vehicle that requires a COF, you'll be going through at least 12 litres per 100 km.
Just as any other vehicle does, motorhomes also require servicing. Take them in for a full service at regular intervals, especially before heading off on a long journey. That way, you know you'll be safe on the road with the tires pumped up, the oil changed, and window wipers checked. Keeping your motorhome well-maintained can mean that it will cause you less trouble down the road.
Tips for Buying a Campervan
When you're looking at the various campervans online, you will undoubtedly be looking at their mileage. Don't get too concerned if the one you like has a lot of mileage, as that means that it's served its owner well. If you're buying one that's 20+ years old, you can expect it to have driven around 200,000 – 300,000 km.
Get Some Camping Gear
While you'll have the luxury of a real roof over your head in a campervan, you'll still need some camping gear to use with your new vehicle. Make sure that you at least have the following:
- Cooking utensils and appliances
- Safety equipment like jumper leads, spare tyre, tyre jack, and tools
- Power inverter so you can charge your phone and laptop
- Bedding, including warm blankets
- Wet weather gear
As we all know, vehicles depreciate rapidly as soon as you drive them off the lot. The amount of depreciation depends on the brand you buy. Some can decrease in value by as much as 20% in year 1, while others may only lose you about 7%.
If you want the best resale value possible, we recommend buying a previously owned, older motorhome. These vehicles have already depreciated a lot, so the value shouldn't fall much further each year. This is the only way you'll stand a chance of getting back somewhere near what you paid for it.
Once you've found a campervan that you love, you'll need to take it for a test drive. Never buy one without taking it for a spin, as this gives you the chance to see how easy it is to drive, park, and turn corners in the vehicle. You'll also get the opportunity to pull over and get a better look at the interior, so don't forget to do this and complete a thorough check of the interior condition.
Don't take the asking price as set in stone. If you have your heart set on a motorhome that's out of your budget, offer what you are able to pay for it. Some sellers haven't used their campervans in years and really just want them off their hands! You never know what price someone may agree to, so it's worth trying to negotiate.
Get the Vehicle Checked
Getting the campervan thoroughly checked by a mechanic before you buy it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Take the campervan to a garage of your choice – it's vital that you find an impartial mechanic to complete the check, not someone who knows the seller. Get them to thoroughly inspect the vehicle, including steering, heating, locks, fittings, AC, brakes, and of course, the engine and internal parts.
It's worth getting an online check done as well to show if there is any debt attached to the motorhome. This will also show how many owners the campervan has had and other helpful information.
Don't Forget the Change of Ownership
After you have paid for your campervan, don't forget to go online and complete the change of ownership. The previous owner will need to do this as well to officially transfer the vehicle into your name. This process is inexpensive and extremely quick.
Apply for Campervan Finance
Campervans can become much more accessible with simple regular payments instead of having to pay the entire amount upfront. If you need some help getting a loan for your motorhome, contact Stadium Finance. One of our friendly team will be happy to guide you through the loan application process.
Thanks to this list of tips for buying a campervan, you’re now ready to start the search for the perfect vehicle. Find one that you want to buy and we'll have you driving off in your new campervan in no time!