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First Time Renting a Car? Here’s What You Should Know

Are you planning an exciting trip around the gorgeous North Island of New Zealand? This amazing country is just the right size to explore using car rental services, and both islands have an outrageous amount of stunning beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and city vistas to discover.

You will need some general tips about renting a car – and it also pays to find out what’s involved with renting a car in New Zealand specifically. Read on to discover some hot tips about how to rent a car and what is involved in New Zealand, specifically when you set out on a drive-your-own adventure!

DRIVER’S LICENSE 

 Driving license copy

 

First, ensure that you have a valid driver’s licence in English or an approved translation to drive legally in New Zealand – and always have your licence on you when you are driving. You will need to present your licence if you are pulled over on the road for any reason, and if you are caught driving without it, you may incur a hefty fine! There are different classes of licences specific to different vehicles in New Zealand, so if you are wondering how to rent a car, be sure it is actually a car you are renting! Heavier vehicles, motorcycles and cars all come under a different licence class, so make sure you check, as you may not be qualified to drive a particular type of vehicle with your current valid overseas licence.

AGE RESTRICTIONS 

While some car rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old, and some have additional age surcharges for those under 25, you should always check the specific age requirements of the rental company you choose. Many car rental companies won’t rent to someone under 25, so be certain to contact the company you are looking at to find out exactly what is required. 

While larger companies may be more lax about age restrictions, smaller car rental businesses will likely offer better rates. So it may be that you just choose someone from your party over 25 years old to drive to take advantage of more personal service and a great deal.

INSURANCE COVERAGE  

Understand the insurance options available and consider taking out comprehensive coverage to protect yourself from potential accidents or damages. While it may add to the overall cost of your journey, it provides extra peace of mind. Most car rental companies will have their own policy conditions, so be sure to read the fine print, particularly regarding what happens if someone other than the nominated person is driving the vehicle.

VEHICLE SELECTION 

Choose a car that suits your needs and group size. Compact cars are perfect for urban exploration, while SUVs are ideal for off-road adventures or travelling with a larger group. Consider the terrain and activities you plan to engage in during your trip. If you want to be a responsible visitor and save on emissions and the cost of petrol, look for a car rental company that offers a hybrid vehicle selection with a petrol/electric hybrid battery that charges itself as you drive. These hybrids can be substantially cheaper on fuel costs, so you will have more money to spend on fun activities and delicious local food!

ROAD RULES 

While you are researching how to rent a car, it pays to take also some time to familiarise yourself with the road rules in New Zealand; you can find the official road code information here. Familiarise yourself with New Zealand’s road rules, including driving on the left side, giving way to the right, and understanding the unique road signs. Studying and adhering to the country’s road safety regulations will ensure you are a safe road user.

 

one way sign city

 

 

 

FUEL STATIONS 

New Zealand has some wonderful out-of-the-way places to explore, but petrol stations in rural areas might have limited operating hours, so be mindful of your fuel levels during long drives. It’s smart to fill up when you have the opportunity to avoid being stranded, as remote locations may also lack cell phone coverage and are highly unlikely to offer public transport or Uber service. The smart move is to locate nearby fuel stations and plan your routes accordingly. And if you want to reduce your chance of running out of petrol further, opt for a hybrid car rental.

 

GPS NAVIGATION 

Consider renting a GPS device or using a reliable navigation app to help you navigate New Zealand’s diverse landscapes. These tools can be invaluable, especially when exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations or travelling in remote areas with limited cell phone coverage. While getting lost together might be a romantic idea, the reality can be cold and boring. It’s also smart to pack a good selection of snacks and more water than you need, and if you are making day trips from your accommodation, throwing a blanket or two in the back can’t hurt.

PARKING REGULATIONS  

You must adhere to parking regulations to avoid fines in New Zealand. Check signs for restrictions, including time limits and paid parking zones. Some cities and towns offer designated parking areas or buildings where you can safely leave your vehicle. If you get stuck, just ask someone on the street where you might be best off parking; Kiwis are notoriously helpful!

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE  

 

Confirm if your rental company provides 24/7 roadside assistance in case of emergencies, breakdowns, or flat tires. This service can save you a lot of hassle and ensure you get back on the road promptly. Familiarise yourself with the process of contacting roadside assistance when needed. At Blue Star Car Rentals, all the vehicles are covered 24/7 by AA Roadside Assist – the nationwide Automobile Association breakdown service.

RETURN CONDITION  

It’s standard practice to take photos of the car’s condition before and after the rental period to avoid disputes regarding existing damages. If you can do this with your rental agent present, even better. You should always thoroughly inspect the vehicle for any pre-existing scratches, dents, or mechanical issues and ensure the rental company is aware of these before you drive off in your car. This can save all manner of disputes as you have a clear record of what the vehicle looked like, to begin with.

GET IN TOUCH CONDITION  

That’s our tips for road trips for now – hopefully, you understand more about how to rent a car now!  Renting a car in New Zealand allows you the freedom to explore breathtaking scenery and hidden gems. By considering these points, you’ll be well-prepared for your first car rental adventure and can make the most of your time exploring this remarkable country. If you are looking to explore the North Island in a rental car that includes unlimited kilometres, call Blue Car Rentals for an exact rate and information about our rental options – including vehicle collection and our hybrid range of vehicles.

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