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Where to buy a car in New Zealand?

Buying a backpacker car of course appears to be a luxury option in many countries, but in New Zealand it can be actually a cost-effective transport option. This is especially convenient if you are planning on visiting New Zealand for a few months. As there is a huge import of reliable Japanese automobiles in NZ, you can easily pick up an affordable runner for cheap prices.

When purchasing a vehicle always take note of the mechanical problem, it may have or else you may not be able to sell it at a higher price. Remember not to pay more than you are willing to loose. If you are going to be here at the onset of the summer season with an idea of enjoying the summer travelling and then selling the vehicle at summer’s end, then remember a lot of other travellers will be also trying to do the same.


Generally, when you are buying a vehicle, it’s a seller’s market and when you are trying to sell it, it’s a buyer’s market. As you there will be other travellers too who will want to sell their cars for good money.

Where to buy a car to travel in NZ

There are a plenty of ways to buy a car to travel in NZ. There is a popular online auction marketplace, i.e. Trade Me that has a wide selection of used cars from both auto dealers and private sellers. You will also find a lot of private ads in Newspapers classifieds, roadside sales, auto fairs that are held in the main cities, auto auctions and of course vehicle dealerships.

The avenue you choose to go through the process of purchasing a car in NZ should also depend on your practical knowledge about automobiles. However, auto auctions are probably the cheapest option to buy a car. Auto Dealers may give you a warranty and can be quite helpful, but will of course cost you more. There are also places which offer a buy back option on certain conditions. This means they sell vehicles with an assurance to buy it back at a fixed price.

Places to buy a car

Wellington and Christchurch are the main cities where you can get a large choice of the Backpacker cars at a reasonable price range. However, you can even find a cost-effective deal out of the town. When you go to one of these cities, have a quick look and visit the local auto shops, hostel noticeboards, garages, hostel receptions and outside hostels. Other places like car buy backs and markets can also be a great source to buy a decent set of wheels.

Insurance Companies

In NZ, it is surprisingly not mandatory to have an auto insurance. But it is still best to get a Third party insurance so as to avoid heavy expense, if you get yourself in an accident. When compared to the UK, insurance is very affordable prices in NZ.

Travelers auto insurance agencies offer cheap insurance for backpacker cars, campervan or motorbikes. They also provide almost instant online quotes for policies that are from 3 to 12 months. You can also get an instant insurance policy online. Also look up the Hostel network, which can be very helpful as it have introduced its own backpacker’s auto insurance policy.

Things to look for when buying a car

  • When rust overrun an automobile, it can be quite difficult and costly to rectify it. Also, it is the prime reason for automobiles failing their WOF. So make sure to check the door hinges and see that majority of the vehicle is rust free;
  • Look for broken or damaged headlights and cracked casings as these issues can also make your vehicle fail the WOF;
  • Remember, it is illegal to drive without proper headlights at night. Hence, ensure that the headlights function properly in dipped and full beam;
  • Check out for the oil leaks. To do so you can ask someone to stand behind the vehicle and have a look at the smoke that comes out of the exhaust when you give the vehicle a good hard rev. If the smoke is blacker, the more oil leaks you will have. Be cautious of sellers who use oil thickener into their engine. Because it helps in keeping the black smoke down until the buyers drive it off;
  • Observe the engine sound to see it turn over smoothly and also have a look at the engine oil to see whether it is new or old. You may also drive the vehicle up a hill and check the engine strength;
  • Ensure that the steering wheels turn smoothly as you drive the vehicle. If it pulls to the right or left as you drive, it can indicate a damaged or worn-out axel, which could cost much to replace;
  • If the vehicle already has a WOF, then ask the inspectors if there are any serious problems with it;
  • Also inquire about the vehicle’s history like when it was last serviced.

Determine the price you should be paying

Few auto auctions are the largest and very popular auto auction house in NZ. Who offer free tools through which you can explore what automobiles have sold for in the previous 12 months. After this you check out how much you should be paying. You can also request for the free car valuation online here.

Additionally, Trade Me is also a great online auction marketplace to find out the price range of cars and campervans. There you will get thousands of advertisements from across the globe.

Diesel Automobiles

When you will arrive in NZ, you will notice that the rates of petrol are much higher than the diesel. In fact, all diesel automobiles are subjected to road user charges, but petrol automobiles are not.

This means that although petrol is far expensive than diesel to purchase but the additional road user charges means the real advantage of purchasing a diesel automobile.

Registration Tax Charges

The Registration tax, which is basically the road tax is displayed on the windscreen of the automobile. To get it renewed you can visit the local post office and also take along the old slip which will be given on the automobile’s window.

Warrant of Fitness (WOF)

In Warrant of Fitness, inspectors check whether your vehicle is safe and fit to drive on the roads or not. WOF test is usually conducted on old automobiles after every six months. In New Zealand, the date of next WOF is also shown on the sticker put on the windscreen of every automobile. However, make sure to check that the sticker is still valid when purchasing a vehicle. There is also a “as is, where is” option in which you can purchase an automobile, provided you will first need to take it to an inspection station to get a warrant. And, if its condition is not up to the warrant standard, then you will have to pay for the repairs.

Auto Inspections & History Checks

You can have the automobile inspected by a local mechanic for the peace of your mind. Although it will cost you big dollars, but at the end you will know that you are not being ripped off.

Experts also recommend to get a history check done before purchasing a vehicle. A car history check will let you know if the auto has an inconsistent odometer, owning money on it or been reported stolen. It will also help you to confirm the authenticity of the current owner. So you can be sure that you are dealing with the right person.

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