Buying a car at any time is a true headache for me, and out in New Zealand it was no different. It wasn’t difficult to buy, no worries at all in fact, but the whole process just fills me with dread.
Firstly though, let me say that getting a car is definitely one of the best ways to travel around NZ. There are so many places off the main tourist routes that need exploring. Now, I was about to go into a big guide for how to buy a car out here but there is an extremely concise article here: http://www.backpackerboard.co.nz/articles/buying-car-new-zealand.php which tells you pretty much all of the main points you need to know.
A few things to add though:
1) Do consider what time of the year you’re coming to New Zealand. Peak seasons are summer and winter (for the skiing/snowboarding etc.) With this in mind, trying to sell your car in April/May and September/November at the end of the seasons may be slightly more difficult.
2) Diesel fuel is quite a lot cheaper than petrol but the government add on a tax for diesel cars. From what we’ve heard, it works out pretty similar to petrol cars in all honesty.
3) Get as much as you can thrown in with your vehicle. Ours came with so much camping gear that it’s helped us no end.
4) Backpackers cars/campervans will have done a lot of miles, no question. This isn’t anything to worry about, just make sure it’s had the WOF (Warranty of Fitness) done recently.
5) No matter what, buying cars/campervans is a gamble unfortunately, that’s just the nature of it and why I hate doing it so much. On the plus side, we haven’t heard any horror stories the entire time we’ve been here and that’s got to count for something.
6) Go with your gut, if the person selling doesn’t seem quite your cup of tea, don’t buy.