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I am landing and leaving from Auckland and would like to hire a car to see the north island and south island.

I've heard that to go from the North and South islands there is a ferry however, it is very expensive to take your car on the ferry and that most people will drop the car off on one end then pick up another on the other end.

I'm just wondering what the best way to do that is? Do I literally just need to figure out what dates I'll be crossing and just hire three cars for each leg of the journey (north island, south island, north island) or there some sort of ferry / car hire packages that would organize all of this for me?

  • 1
    What is "very expensive"? A standard car is about NZ$200 (130€, US$140) each way versus the cost & time dropping the car off, hiring a taxi to the docks, lugging your bags on and off the ferry, getting transport to pick up your next car. Or do a one way Auckland to Christchurch and catch a flight back to Auckland. – user13044 Oct 26 '16 at 14:02
  • @Tom: Some rental car agencies have counters at the ferry terminals, so no taxi will be needed when renting with one of them. There is also checked luggage, so you don't have to carry your luggage onto the ferry yourself. Surely this limits the number of luggage items that you can bring onboard. – DCTLib Oct 26 '16 at 14:07
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I did exactly this two years ago. There are some rental car agencies that allow you to take the car onto the ferry, and others that do not. I had a car with Avis, which does not allow you to take the car onto the ferry. I booked a car (pick-up: Auckland, return: Christchurch) anyway, and they are prepared for that. You return your car at the ferry terminal, hop onto the ferry, and then you get a new car when you arrive at the terminal on the other island. This is then just one rental contract.

The rental car agency will need to know in advance when you are taking the ferry for this service. In my case, I told them when I picked up the vehicle on the northern island. Since you want to do a round trip, you would have to tell them both crossing dates.

Back then, there was no package for car+ferry available - they had to be booked separately. While having to tell the crossing date in advance sounds like a drawback (as it reduces your flexibility), you have to keep in mind that the ferry is often sold out - so will need to secure tickets well in advance anyway, and you will be able to tell the rental car agency your crossing date(s) at that point.

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If you want to avoid taking the car on the ferry, you can simple rent the car from Auckland to Wellington, then take the ferry as a foot passenger. Once you are in Picton, you can take a new rental car from that location. There are plenty of car rental agencies to choose from on both islands.

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Agree with Ash, just drop the rental off before the ferry and re-hire. Some rentals may be pretty strict. Also be careful on going off the paved road as some would not allow it.

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