Tourist Tips: A Guide to Purchasing a Car in New Zealand

Buyer checking a car
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New Zealand has continuously topped bucket lists of individuals around the world. This is mainly because numerous people — especially city dwellers — are attracted to its lush greeneries, beautiful farmlands, and stunning nature wonders.

Accordingly, if you plan on vacationing in New Zealand for a number of months, the best way to make the most of your stay is having a convenient mode of transportation. Moreover, because the cities are quite small, you can finish exploring them in a few long drives along scenic highways. It’s also much easier to move to and from destinations and venture into rural areas.

Indeed, having a car in New Zealand is favourable and efficient. However, is it also practical and cost-effective? In addition, is the purchasing process simple enough for tourists? Below, we’ll discuss how buying a car works in NZ, as well as some tips on getting the best possible deal.

The Technicalities

  • License. As a tourist, you can legally drive in NZ for up to a year, provided that you have an active and current driver’s license from your country. You’re also allowed to drive if you hold an International Driving Permit.
  • Driving. Be sure to familiarize yourself with driving practices, as well as road and safety rules in NZ before buying a car. Check out the Land Transport New Zealand website to know more about the specific regulations.
  • Registration. When you buy a car, you’re required to renew the car’s registration online or at a post office. You and your dealer must also inform the New Zealand Transport Agency about the sales transaction.
  • Car Insurance. Unlike in other countries, such as the UK and U.S., acquiring auto insurance is not mandatory in NZ. However, it’s still best to have third party insurance so you are financially protected if you ever get involved in a road accident during your stay. Additionally, you don’t have to stress yourself out about insurance costs because there are many affordable options, like the traveller’s car insurance that is ideal for backpackers.

Cost-effective Tactics

Woman showing her car key

  • Opt for a used car. Instead of going for a brand new car, it’s more economical to purchase a second-hand vehicle. It’s also quite easy to find a pre-owned car in its main cities. For instance, you can try dealerships in Christchurch or Auckland where car dealers are often easy to negotiate with. Other options include car fairs, like the Ellerslie Car Fair in Auckland, classified ads, and car auctions.
  • Resell. You can sell the car by the end of your vacation so you can offset at least a portion of the cost. Accordingly, you can score a used car in NZ for about $1000 to $3000, so budget properly and choose the brand and model wisely. Besides, it’s not smart to spend too much on a vehicle you don’t intend to keep.

Key Reminders

It’s vital to verify if the car dealer you’re buying from is legally registered. It’s also indispensable to check the history of the car, to know if it’s not stolen property. Moreover, ask the dealer to provide all essential documents. Lastly, never purchase a used vehicle without having an expert perform a complete inspection.