Buying a Car in New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand (map)

By now you may know that we have made it back to the mainland of the USA, but to share some of our last favorite picture memories from the trip we will catch you up on our departure from New Zealand.  Our friends Sarah and Robbie, that we had met during our hike to Everest Base Camp, welcomed us into their own custom built home for our stay before the flight to the states.  Not only was their house amazing but Auckland the largest city in New Zealand felt like our own hometown of Austin Texas.

Auckland is a large trendy metropolitan city surrounded by over 50 volcanoes, yet still has a feeling of a spread out small town and a sense of community with a strong sailing culture.  Sarah had taken us around to the 2nd highest view point in the city sitting on top of volcano Mount Eden.  While Robbie found a Keep Auckland Weird experience by treating us to Silo Park Friday night movies by the bay which goes on every week during the summer.

As we have said all along it’s the people that make the trip!

Buying a Car in New Zealand

After spending a month in Australia with a rental car bill that ran us into the thousands, we decided upon arriving to New Zealand that our first step was to secure cheaper transportation to move us around.  Reading some other travel blogs we had heard it was cheap and easy to buy a used car while visiting and sell it before you fly out.  Below is an outline of some of the tips and myths we found to buying a car in New Zealand.


  1. We found Gumtree and TradeMe to be the best websites for finding used car classifieds
  2. Other than making sure it’s mechanically sound, you really want to ensure that the registration and WOF (Warranty of Fitness) is current or even better good for the entire time you are visiting
  3. Upon buying the car head to the nearest Post to update the registration into your name; cost $9 NZD
  4. If you are flying out on a Sunday don’t wait until late on a Saturday to sell the car as you will find the banks are all closed until Monday.  This is problematic on getting a good exchange rate on your currency before leaving the country.


  1. Buying a car in the south island with the expectations that you can make money in the north island is a myth.  Both Auckland and Christchurch have plenty of inventory especially now that flights from Australia to Christchurch are cheaper.
  2. Because the price of diesel fuel is quiet a bit cheaper than unleaded in New Zealand you would think buying a car or van that runs off of diesel would save you money; and it could if you get poor gas mileage.  But the truth is with the diesel tax (RUC – Road Usage Charge), you will pay $55.80 NZD per 1,000 KM.  So in the end it evens out with unleaded fuel.
  3. In hindsight I regret buying short term auto insurance from companies like Backpacker Car World and Christchurch Backpackers Car Market.  Not because we personally had a problem with it, but talking to other travelers it is not worth more than the paper it’s written on and if you have any issues it won’t cover you.  We paid $156 NZD for 3 months of liability coverage and would have been better off  working with reputable companies like BBH.  Note NZ Auto Insurance AA would not cover us as we are not long term residents.
  4. The final myth was selling a car would be easy, it wasn’t.  We got lucky and sold it on our very last day.  My tips to you on selling it would be: 1st list it on Gumtree (free) and TradeMe ($40-$60) as soon as you know your departure day.  2nd if you leave through Auckland checkout the Sunday Ellerslie Car Fair and Saturday Auckland City Car Fair.  We had luck at the Saturday sale, but I would say we were very lucky!  15+ cars were there for sale by backpackers and only about 3 sold that day, also watch out for the shady scam guy who will try to offer you 1/5 of what you are asking for your car (he is preying on the weak).

New Zealand Skyline

Mount Eden Volcano
Overlooking Auckland from Mount Eden Volcano with Sarah

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland City Car Fair
Let the used car selling begin
Car Sell
Happy Buyer and Seller – Paid $1,200 & Sold for $1,200
Sail New Zealand
Maybe for our next adventure we will sail around the world
Robbie showing us around town at sunset
Auckland Panoramic Bay
Love this photo! – click it to see it full size
Drinks with Friends
Enjoying drinks with Robbie’s mom and step-dad

Auckland Skywalk

Auckland Silo Park
Movies in Silo Park
Thinking of our friends back home and abroad

7 thoughts on “Buying a Car in New Zealand

  1. Thanks so much for an amazing blog!!! I have followed you since you stayed in my hometown of HERMANUS, South Africa. What entrepid adventurers you are — seeing, hiking & exploring the most incredible locations. As we say in SA — really awesome!! I hope you are able to settle down back home after such a journey — what wonderful memories you will have forever. Well done!

    1. Haha Gail, settling down may prove to be more difficult than we thought, but can’t wait to find out.

  2. Really enjoy following both of you on your journey. Mark

    1. Thanks Mark, we are still on the fence if the journey is over or not 🙂

  3. I definitely wouldn’t underestimate how long it might take to sell a car or what you might get for it! From what I’ve heard from travellers the car fair is a bit of a crapshoot (though one of my good friends, an Auckland local, got her car for a steal there).

  4. We didn’t have very much luck at the Ellerslie car market, and ended up buying our car on Trademe. After talking with other travelers, we found out a lot of them bought their car through Facebook groups. Who knew?! We’ll definitely use your tips for selling our car when we leave! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Rachel thanks for dropping in, so what type of car did you end up buying?

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