Renting a Car in Auckland When You Visit New Zealand

On this post I want to talk about something that is not specifically related to this blog. On my last trip to New Zealand I’ve had a blast. NZ is just a beautiful country and I would recommend to anyone to spend at least 4 weeks traveling though the north and south island. In addition to the beauty of the country, one should also stop for a minute and appreciate the city of Auckland. Let’s talk a little more about it.

Auckland is also called “the city of sails” and this is clearly an allusion to the fact that there are lots of aficionados to sailing in this city, as one can witness with a visit to the viaduct, or anywhere really with a coast, which in Auckland seems to be everywhere! It’s funny but when you are in Auckland you very easily lose perspective of where is north and where is south, and where the heck is the sea coming from. It feels like it’s everywhere. This is actually not so hard to understand when one looks at a map and realizes that Auckland has an irregular shape, and it has many bays and gulfs, so the city enjoys many waterfront aspects to it.

Obviously waterfront properties are expensive, but also beautiful, and most of them enjoy a view to a dormant volcano called “Rangitoto”, which is one of the prides of the city. One can take a ferry to this volcano and walk to the top, which is pretty cool.

Anyways, Auckland has so much to offer, but it does have one problem. The public transportation sucks, so there is no way around it really, you need to rent a car. This is not very expensive and you can chose one of the big international brands, or shop around a little more if you are the kind that enjoys a good deal and look for a good deal. As NZ is a small country, there tends to be a place for small businesses in a way that may seem odd for visitors (americans especially). See, Kiwis (such the term New Zealanders adopted for themselves) like to own small businesses. Instead of the big American dream, they have what they call the “BBB dream” which consists of a BMW, a Batch and a Boat. As long as they can afford these three, they see no need to upgrade, professionalize and eventually sell their business to a bigger operator. This results in lots of small operations with an often less than average customer service experience, which is more often than not compensated by the warmth and friendly attitude of most Kiwis.

So you have the usual operators on one side: Budget, Avis, Jucy, Hertz, Ace, and then you have smaller companies that may or may not be a suitable option for you. The option is there and you should compare the prices, read some of the small print and choose the option that is best for you. Sometimes this is the cheapest option and sometimes it’s not.

The advantage of the bigger brands is that you can pick up your car straight from the airport, which saves you the shuttle or taxi when you arrive. But I know some people that really don’t feel like having to deal with a car rental company when they’ve just arrived. Some feel like getting to their hotel or apartment, and call it a day, leaving the hassle for the next day with a bit more energy in the tank. Whatever the case, you have the option, if you do prefer to pick up your car at the airport you’ll need to go with one of the following: Budget, Avis, GoRental, Thrifty, Jucy, Omega (I might be missing some, make sure you check).

The next thing you need to figure out is what type of car you need. Some operators will have more more availability of specific types of cars than others, so whether you need a regular sedan, an SUV, this is something that you need to consider.

Ultimately, be smart. Consider that sometimes “cheap” is not cheap as advertised. They may lure you in with some crazy deal like $20 a day; but once you are done upgrading, adding all different types of insurance, and crazy add-ons that the car rental types love shoving down your throat, you’ll end up spending more than double the advertised price in no time. So if you have a budget make sure you know what is going to be the final, on-road cost with all add-ons inclusive.

Finally, especially if you are in a budget and you are going to visit Auckland during high season, you need to book in advance or you are going to end up paying a higher than usual price, as this is the busy time of the year and operators like to make up for low seasons by raising their prices.

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