Plan Your Trip
As you plan your trip I’m sure you will have lots of questions. We have a wealth of knowledge collected from our travels around New Zealand, and the stories from our customers.
Below you will find some answers to frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions, please get in touch. We are happy to answer them.
Why Raglan? Well, why not?
Raglan is a lovely town & a world-renowned surf destination.
Raglan is only 40 minutes from Hamilton airport & less than 2 hours from Auckland airport meaning you can be out on the waves in no time. Whether experienced or aspiring, Raglan is the perfect place to start and end your NZ surf adventure. We can recommend surf schools for lessons on the beach, or if you already know a fin from a flipper point, you in the direction of the many world famous breaks that are within easy reach.
In our experience, the last thing you want to do after a long flight is get in a vehicle and try to negotiate the unfamiliar roads and rules of a new country. Why not take an easy transfer to Raglan (which we can arrange for you), pick up one of our vans and check into one of the local campsites. You can then spend a couple of days getting over your jet lag and getting to know your van in our beautiful and relaxed little piece of paradise.
Why start your adventure picking up your van up from a faceless lot in a dirty part of a big city when you can start out in a friendly town at a chilled-out pace?
To find out a bit about the town, take a look at:
Freedom Camping (sometimes called Wild Camping) is allowed in many parts of NZ, however it is getting more and more difficult to find good, free camping spots. The rules changed in 2011, just before the Rugby World Cup, when a new law was passed that allowed councils to make up their own regional rules regarding freedom camping. This law also allows councils to hand out fines to people breaking their rules.
Freedom Camping in General
In general it is legal to park up and spend the night on public land, apart from in places where there is a regional by-law prohibiting it. Regions that have passed these laws tend to be the really popular places for tourists to visit e.g. Queenstown. Places where freedom camping is prohibited are usually very well sign posted. If you see a no camping sign, it’s best not to as you could well be in for a fine up to $200.
Self Contained Campervans
In some areas you will see a sign saying ‘self contained campervans only’. To be self contained your campervan has to have a toilet on board, a grey water tank to catch the water from the sink and a valid certificate of inspection. All of our PiwiWiwi Campervans are certified Self Contained, meaning that you can take advantage of some great freedom camping spots around the two islands of New Zealand.
There are lots of great camp sites in NZ. Our favourite places to stay are the DOC campgrounds. These are run by the Department of Conservation (DOC), are located in beautiful conservation land and are cheap! The standard campgrounds cost $6 per person per night. For this you get a field, a toilet and a water source – what else do you need? We tend to stay in these, or freedom camp, for a few nights. If we are staying in one of our HiAces we then book into a Holiday Park when we really need a shower. Holiday parks will cost anywhere from $10 to $25 per person, and have facilities such as hot showers, kitchens, laundry, TV lounge, book swap etc.
Freedom Camping Etiquette
If you do come across a beautiful spot where you would like to spend the night, please follow these guidelines:
1/ Assume Nothing – Ask a Local. Make sure that you are staying on public land, and that you are allowed to do so. Ask at the nearest house, or check with the local i-Site (information centre).
2/ Use the Facilities – Leave No Trace. Public toilets are abundant in NZ, so there is no excuse for leaving toilet paper (or even human waste) lying around. Also make sure that you tidy your campground before leaving – make sure all rubbish finds a bin, or (better still) is recycled. If you see rubbish left by someone else, do your good deed for the day by picking it up and helping dispose of it correctly.
3/ Protect the Environment – Be Aware. New Zealand’s ecosystem is beautiful and fragile. Be aware of where you are parking and avoid damaging vegetation. Also be aware of the local fire danger, and follow the rules for open fires. Open fires are often prohibited during the summer months as the land is so dry a small spark can have devastating effects.
Freedom Camping Resources
Finally, if you are travelling with a Tablet or Smart Phone, there are some great Apps available to help you find off the beaten track camping options.
• Camping NZ (aka the Rankers App). This is by far our favourite! It lists every designated camp site in NZ (including the free ones) and includes reviews of most. It also lists and reviews great free things to do, and the best paid things too. Well worth the $15.99 cost!
• CamperMate – also includes wifi spots, recycling bins, public toilets, petrol stations & supermarkets!
• WikiCamps NZ – includes backpacker hostels, points of interest, information centres & day stops.
If you are not travelling with ‘smart’ devices or if you feel like talking to real people for information, the information centres around New Zealand (called i-sites) are a great place to get information and advice.
There are two companies that run ferries on this route. Both sail between Wellington on the North Island & Picton on the South Island. Both have online booking facilities, cost roughly the same & take roughly the same time. So try both for prices:
To help you, our vans are classed as campervans. They are 4.9m long.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about our campervan rentals. We hope you find them useful.
To see our full Terms and Conditions, click here.
Rates, Booking & Payment
What is included in the rental rate?
Our daily rates include:
Use of one of our vans and all the kit that comes as standard in it, as explained in the ‘what’s inside’ section of our website.
AA 24-hour roadside assistance
Goods & Services Tax (GST) of 15%
Raglan start and end location
What is the minimum rental duration?
During low season, the minimum hire period for our vans is 10 days, during peak season it is 21 days.
When are you open?
We are open from the start of September to the End of May.
Do you do one way hires?
We do offer one way hires (e.g. pick up on the North Island and drop off on the South Island). We charge for this service. Contact us to find out more.
Can we have more than one driver?
Yes. Up to three drivers can be named for free. We want you to be able to share the fun of driving our van!
When do I have to pay?
We need to take a deposit from you to secure the booking; this will be 20% of the rental value, minimum $100 and maximum $500.
Payment of the balance of the rental cost is due 28 days prior to vehicle collection (we’ll send you an email to remind you when it’s time).
How much is the excess (deductible) and can it be reduced?
The insurance excess (deductible) varies depending on insurance option taken.
HiAce Surf Campervan
Is there a bond?
Yes, we take a bond. It is equal to the insurance excess (deductible) or for ‘full cover’ options it is $500. The bond must be secured by the person named on the Rental Agreement when the van is collected. It is taken by ‘freezing’ funds on a credit card. If no credit card is available then we take the funds either from a debit card or in cash.
The bond is returned once we have checked the vehicle & its contents is returned with all terms of the Rental Agreement complied with. This is usually within 24 hours of the vehicle being returned.
Which payment methods do you accept?
We accept Visa, Mosit and cash.astercard, EFTPOS, PayPal, bank dep
What happens if I want to cancel my booking?
Any booking may be cancelled without penalty within 3 days of receipt of confirmation, unless it is within 21 days of pick up.
Once the balance of the rental cost has been paid, the following charges will apply:
21 days or more prior to pick up: 20% of total rental charge.
8 days or more prior to pick up: 50% of total rental charge.
7 days or less prior to pick up or no show: 100% of total rental charge.
Driver & License Requirements
How old do I have to be to drive one of your vans?
All drivers must be 21 years old or older.
Do I need a special license to drive your vans?
No – A standard car license is all that’s required. You will need to show us a full driver’s licence that has been held for at least 2 years and is valid for the whole length of the rental for each driver.
Drivers with a non-English language licence must carry either an International Driving Permit [IDP] or accredited English translation of their licence while driving in New Zealand. Should you require further information regarding licenses for driving in New Zealand, please refer to the New Zealand Transport Authority website www.nzta.govt.nz
What comes inside your vans?
We pride ourselves in being able to offer you a van full of useful stuff and without clutter that might get in the way. A full list of van kit is available here. If you have any special requests of things that you’d like in your van, please let us know and we’ll see what we can do.
What boards fit the surfboard straps?
Our straps are designed to hold most types of surfboard from short shortboards to longboards. (We’ve frequently used them with a 9’2” but nothing bigger so far). Skis & snowboards will be fine too.
SUP (Stand-Up Paddle) boards, windsurfers & kayaks have not been tried. Please get in touch if you’ve a particular requirement & we’ll see if we can get hold of something similar & try it out before you book!
Do you have any vehicles with automatic transmission?
No – all our vehicles are manual transmission. Manual transmission vans give better fuel consumption and are in our opinion more rewarding to drive.
Other companies advertise Toyota HiAces as 2-3 berth. Will you allow 3 passengers in your HiAce Campervans?
We advertise our vans as suitable for two people because we think that they fit two people perfectly. However, the van has three seat belts and can accommodate three people, if they’re friendly in bed! A couple with a baby or young child should be fine in one of our vans.
Can a baby seat or a child’s booster seat be fitted to your campervans?
Yes, baby seats can be fitted to the front passenger seat of our Campervans. In New Zealand, children under the age of 5 are required by law to travel in an “approved” child restraint. We can offer baby and booster seats for hire if required, just let us know what you need when you make your booking.
Can I charge my phone / camera / laptop in the van?
Our vans come with three 12v outlets (cigar lighter style, two in the front, one in the back) AND twin USB charging adaptors. If you bring the correct lead, you’ll be able to charge your gadgets while driving or camping with no hassles. For things requiring mains power, there are plug sockets in our vans. You’ll need to be plugged into the mains at a campground to use them.
Can I smoke in the campervan?
We have a strict NO SMOKING policy in all our vehicles, and if there is any sign and/or smell of cigarette smoke we can charge a significant fee.
Can I bring animals on holiday with me?
Sorry, you’ll have to leave your pets at home. Animals are not allowed to travel in any PiwiWiwi vehicles, with the exception of registered guide dogs.
Do you have Diesel campervans?
No we do not. Diesel is a lot cheaper to buy than petrol but diesel vehicles are liable ‘Road User Charges’ (RUCs) at roughly 6 cents/km. This makes petrol and diesel vehicles cost roughly the same to drive.
Pick-up and Drop-off
Where and when can I pick up and drop off the van?
We are based in Raglan. This beautiful little bohemian surf town (with world famous waves) is on the West Coast of the North Island. It has fine cafes, several beaches and a relaxed vibe. Vans can be picked up and dropped off 7 days a week at our depot in Raglan. We can arrange pick up and drop off in Hamilton (additional cost might apply depending on length of rental, please get in touch).
Can you pick me up from the Airport?
Yes of course, we can arrange for someone to be waiting at either Auckland or Hamilton airport to meet your flight. We strongly recommend this. It starts your holiday off at a relaxed pace rather than standing in line and then dealing with a new vehicle, city and side of road after a long flight Depending on the length of the rental, there might be a charge for this service, please discuss it with us at the time of booking.
How long should I allow for the handover at the beginning of my holiday?
If it’s your first time with a campervan we would like to spend at least an hour with you. This gives us time to make you comfortable with the campervan, your new holiday home! We take time to explain the van’s operation, New Zealand driving etiquette, camping tips and anything else you might want to ask us.
Can I leave my baggage and boardbags with you when I’ve unpacked?
While you are renting one of our vehicles we are more than happy to store your suitcases, boardbags and most other things if you feel you don’t need them.
On the Road
Are there any restrictions on where I can drive your vans?
Yes, but this will not affect on your holiday.
You may drive our vans on any well maintained formed road in New Zealand with the exception of the following: Ninety Mile Beach – Northland, North of Colville Township – Coromandel Peninsula, Bluff Road that runs between Kuaotunu and Mataurangi – Coromandel Peninsula, Skippers Canyon Road – Queenstown and Ball Hutt Road – Mt Cook. Please note that if you ignore these restrictions the van will not covered by insurance when travelling on these roads & you will be fully liable for any damage and/or recovery costs.
Where can I camp?
New Zealand is an amazing country to travel and camp in. It’s safe, there are no nasty animals to be wary of and of course you’re surrounded by incredible scenery. There are thousands of campgrounds and holiday parks across the two islands that range from very very basic to luxury, and are priced accordingly (usually from $5 to $35 a night). We’ll provide you with some campground information in your van, but there are many hidden gems out there that you’ll stumble across on your travels. . A great online guide to campgrounds is here
What about freedom camping?
Freedom camping is generally permitted but there are restrictions on where you can freedom camp. If unsure, always ask; the official advice with stopping on the side of the road or bush reserve is – ‘Assume nothing, ask a local’. We recommend that you check online or with the local information centre first. More information can be found here.
It goes without saying that if you do free camp, please ‘leave no trace’, don’t leave any rubbish or traces of your stay. We also recommend that you go to a campground every 3rd or 4th night to fill your fresh water and have a shower!
- surf2surf.com. A few good webcams on this one.
- marineweather.co.nz. Detailed and pretty accurate.
Their summary of New Zealand is pretty nice: “Composed of North and South islands. Ludicrously long uncrowded points, reefs and beach breaks deliver waves year-round from the Roaring 40s as swells pump up from the Antarctic. This variegated, island coastline invariably offers options whatever the wind and swell are doing, with the West coast rarely flat, but can be too big or too windy and the easy coast less consistent but predominantly offshore and lit up by cyclone season swells. Winter being the most consistent period with swell arriving with wind from the south and east. In summer the occasional north-east swell will swing down the pacific. The North Island is warmer but less consistent than the south. Temperatures vary from sub tropical in to chilly accordingly 10-20°C or 50-68°F. The indigenous Maori first surfed here prior to being banned by overzealous missionaries, Duke Kahanamoku then reinvigorated the scene in 1915.”
- swellmap.co.nz/. Intuitive integration using Google Maps, a scoring system & graphs. Don’t rely on the score, make sure you check the graphs too!
- surf.co.nz Lots of information. Watch out though, the webcams are sometimes weeks behind.
These are all local to Raglan, see this post for more detail.
- Opoutere Beach A lovely campground behind an empty beach (with surf) on the Coromandel.
- Raglan SUP Boarding Taught by an ISA qualified instructor no less!
Getting to Raglan
We offer transfers to Raglan (free if you rent a campervan for 30 days or more) but if you want to make your own way here some useful sites are:
We’ll come get you from Hamilton for free however this bus will take you there too:
Shuttle services that will take you most places:
Aotearoa / New Zealand
For those who don’t know, ‘Aotearoa’ is the ‘Te Reo’ name for New Zealand. ‘Te Reo’ is the Maori language. See, you’ve learnt something already
- Pure New Zealand You Tube channel with some great little min-documetaries. Check this blogpost for one about surfing.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
- Raglan’s Bike Shop run by Dirk, Bike2Bay
- Whakarewarewa Forest The most famous and apparently best in NZ. We’ve not been there yet so we can’t tell you for sure but it will have to be very good to beat Woodhill.
- Woodhill Bike Park A fantastic collection of trails just West of Auckland. Sandy ground and so good for wet days. Tame routes through to crazy structures. Mountain bike to your heart’s content
Californian Campervan rental companies
- Escape Campers California. Run by a good ol’ Raglan boy so it must be good!
- Lost Campers California. Get lost in California!
Other Travel-related links
I don’t know much about these but we’re sharing links in the hope that we both get more web traffic!
- iBooked.co.nz An International accommodation listing website.
Other Campervan-related links
Again, I don’t know much about these but we’re sharing links in the hope that we both get more web traffic!
- ADCO RV Covers Covers for your Camper. Based in the US