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Ultimate Geek


#295295 19-Mar-2022 14:33
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We are planning to hire a camper over easter for a 6 day trip up to the top of the north island from Auckland.  We want a fairly comfortable one for 2 adults and a 10 yo, and we've never hired one before.


Are there any things we should look out for?  Traps for the unwary, things that we might not think to check on?


We are currently looking at this one, although not fixed to that company if somebody suggests something else.

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  #2888742 19-Mar-2022 16:46
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Frankly that van looks sweet.


I did a relocation on one with a similar (but differnt) layout with Winderness campervans a few years back. - Really nice van.


General things to look for in camper-vans:


  • Outside of summer, a diesel or electric system to heat the cabin overnight. - That euro origin van will have a system.
  • Seating configuration. Some vans have the seat's in the cab, and the rest at the rear. Obviously not ideal socially for a group of three as somebody will be sitting alone. In this case all seat's are near the frount.
  • Insurance cost. can be a lot.
  • Insurance restrictions - One time I rented a camper-van, found out the insurance didn't cover gravel roads. Not great when my plans included visiting family who live on a gravel road. Opted to just drive it anyway, but not ideal.
  • For only 3 people it is ideal to get one that is under 3500kg GVM so you get the signposted speed limit. Anything over 3500kg gets a 90km/h max speed limit. That van will come just under 3500kg.
  • Decent amount of water tank. At 122L this is good.
  • Beds that don't need to be made and unmade every day.



Specific things to that camper-van:


  • Built on a Fiat Ducato van chassis. Most popular platform for camper van's, as it is FWD, meaning the floor (and everything else can be built lower), so generally good.
  • Pritty massive to drive - I am used to towing big trailers etc, but still did a bit of a double take when I climbed in the drivers seat for the first time. Takes a little getting used too. No poking your head out the drivers window to look backward's down the side of the vehicle when maneuvering here. It's simply to far. Need to rely on the (large) mirrors and reversing camera. - Don't let this put you off - once you are moving, the size isn't a big deal. And with three people you can use a spotter if you need help parking.
  • Has separate shower and bathroom, which is sweet. means the toilet floor room doesn't get flooded.
  • Manual. (not a bad choice as the auto fiat is actually an automated manual, which while functional I am not a big fan of).
  • Rear track (width of rear wheels) is a lot more than the front track. Better than having a massive body overhang at the rear like other brands of van, but take care parallel parking, and going close to kerbs etc.
  • Bed in middle of cab is a great setup. Hidden (fully made up) above head height when not in use, but wind down at a touch of a button normally when you need it. Means the van is lower, has less wind age, and easier cab to body access than the bed over cab setups. Usually get a moon roof over the cab too. But does mean the lounge can't really be used with the bed down. If you go to bed / wake up at drastically different times a bed over cab setup could be better.
  • Euro van means the cabin door & large boot door open on the wrong side. - Be mindful if parked on a busy road - cab has a walk through so everybody can get out the passenger door if needed.

General Campervan things:


  • Expect to be filing water, emptying grey, and the toilet cassette frequently. It's spored to be enough capacity for 3 days, but we run through it way faster.
  • Allow plenty of time on your last day to do all the van return chores.
  • It's not a cheap way to travel (car + motels would be cheaper), but worth it in my opinion.
  • Check the fridge and all the kitchen drawers are latched closed before drive off, every time. Nothing quite like cleaning an up yogurt splatter on the side of a major road in the waikato...



[edit] - I have used Kiwi Campers twice before, went fine, but that was over a decade ago. At the time they were one of the few companies that would rent a van with a shower & toilet to somebody my age.


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  #2889356 21-Mar-2022 02:01
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@Scott3 reply was very comprehensive so probably not much value I can add, however just a couple of thoughts:


Insurance, insurance insurance!!!


1. Check the status of their insurance excess requirements. Many campervan rental places require payment of the full excess to them at the time of hire. I once booked a van through Maui and had to pay them $5000 when I collected the vehicle. Note this was not just a 'hold' on my credit card - they actually debited the full amount, and then of course it took several (nerve-wracking) days after I returned the vehicle before that money showed up in my credit card account. I am not a fan of the practice - across hundreds of customers that is tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that they have sitting in their bank account at any one time earning them interest....


2. Insurance exclusions - most campervan hire companies have several standard exclusions to insurance cover, such as overhead/roof damage, underbody damage, windscreen and tyre damage. I expect the overhead damage exclusion is a bonanza for them as it is so easy for a car driver to forget they are suddenly driving a 3 metre high monster - especially when these late model vans drive so much like cars. But I have personally watched someone pull into a camp ground and drive straight into a heavy tree branch so it does happen a lot. Unless you opt for their 'mack daddy' insurance reduction option, you may still be responsible for any damage to the above items up to the full repair/replacement cost.


3. In some cases even if you do take their highest excess reduction plan, damage to the above items may still be excluded from cover. You MUST check this and understand it.


4. If you don't fancy buying their exorbitant excess reduction plans - but also don't like the thought of being bankrupted by them, then the best thing you can do is take out a domestic travel insurance policy so you are covered for the loss of the vehicle excess if something does go wrong. As an example, 1-Cover provides a $5000 hire vehicle excess benefit as standard, and you can opt for a higher excess figure up to $8000. And of course such travel insurance has other benefits too, and domestic cover is generally very reasonable for what it is. To keep the price down, just get a quote for a single person (the driver/hirer) rather than the whole family. Personally I'll never hire any vehicle again without one of these travel insurance policies. I got stung once - and it was not fun at all.


I actually just read the Kiwi Camper insurance exclusion list in their terms and conditions and it's quite exhaustive. The list of things they don't cover you for at all is quite long. Some seem fair enough (eg damage or loss caused by driving or getting stuck on a beach), but the insurance is totally void if your van rolls over in high winds, or if you reverse into another vehicle by mistake - they both seem harsh considering those are the types of events that you'd normally expect insurance to cover you for....


5. Get comfortable with the thought of dealing with poo. You will have to empty the chemical toilet (and probably more than once) and you'll need to put your heart into it. If you don't do it properly they could charge you a fee for having to redo it when you return the vehicle. It's not difficult but it's important you take your time - splashback is unpleasant lol. Buy disposable gloves and hand sanitiser in case they don't provide them.


6. Gas bottles - If you are hiring from your hometown, consider swinging by home to pick up one of your own 9kg gas bottles to use on the road. They will charge you for using their gas bottle - maybe for a full bottle refill even if you've only used some of it. Using your own gas bottle and then swapping their full one back at the end of the hire may help you avoid any gas charge. Returning a Kiwi Camper with the fuel or LPG tanks not full is the cost of the refill plus $50.


7. Cleaning - I note Kiwi Campers demand that you return the vehicle in "an identically cleans state as it was supplied" otherwise a $150 fee applies. Toilet emptying & cleaning fee is $150 and if you fail to empty the grey water tank that's another $150. 


I hope I haven't put you off - I merely wanted to point out some potential pitfalls, some of which are not obvious at all. I've had some amazing trips over the years in little 2 berths all the way up to a 6 berth leviathan. It's a great way to see the country for sure.

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