One of the biggest decision to make in a working holiday would probably be whether to buy or rent a car! So how do you decide if you would need a car or not? How do you conclude if renting is more cost effective or not? Continue reading to get an idea of the factors I considered before I bought my car, FDD.

driving new zealand

P/S: I call my car Fei Di Di, and that means plump little brother in Mandarin (肥弟弟). Don’t ask me why but when I was thinking of a name for my car and I saw the first three letters of the car plate being FDD, that just did it. Fei Di Di it shall be. It has an English name too if you’re wondering, and that’s Dylan 😀

1. Transport Options

Firstly, you got to understand the various transportation options available in New Zealand. Have a grasp of how it’s like especially in the city or town you will be living in. If you’re working in a developed city like Auckland, Wellington or even Christchurch, there’s probably a wide network of buses readily available. However, if you’re in a small town, public transport may not be as frequent and that’s when having a car may be necessary!

One other thing to consider is also parking charges. Parking in bigger cities does cost more than if you’re parking in a little town. I remember paying for parking only when I drive in bigger cities like Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. However, parking was nearly free in every other small town.

For me, my decision to buy a car was when I secured a job in a small town. It was so small that I think having a car is the only way of transport to get around. I got mine off TradeMe from a car dealer who listed their cars there too. Contrastingly, I survived really well with just the bus and train throughout my time in Auckland without a car. Just to level out your expectations, I did walk a bit too because bus stops do not stop directly outside my accommodation. However, that was acceptable for me because I personally love walking. So, this might be something you awnt to consider too!

2. To rent or to buy?

How long are you planning to stay for your working holiday? The Working Holiday Visa typically lasts for 6 months to a year. If you’re staying for the full year, it definitely makes sense to buy a car because I can’t imagine the cost of renting for a full year. On the contrary, you may not need to buy a car if you’re only planning to stay for three months or so. Renting as and when you need it may be the more cost-effective option!

Next thing to consider is whether renting would be more cost-efficient than buying a car. Here you got to do some math. Take the cost of your car divided by the period of time you’ll be there for your working holiday. If the cost is lower than the cost of renting a car per day, then at first glance, it might seem cheaper to buy a car. However, do consider other costs to maintaining a car too, such as parking, fuel and maintenance costs etc. So take that into consideration too as you do your math!

Note: Renting a car in New Zealand can range from $30 to $50 per day, depending on the type of car you’re looking at.

3. Solo or Together?

To buy a car for your working holiday requires high upfront costs while renting a car seems more affordable upfront! So, consider if you’re travelling solo, with your partner or with a bunch of friends? Travelling with at least one other person would already help to cut your costs by half. Also, this would be a good chance to share the upfront costs and maintenance costs thereafter with your travelling buddies.

car new zealand

However, if you’re travelling solo, be prepared to pay a higher cost upfront. This does not mean that you should not buy a car because I travelled solo and bought a car. I made friends along the way and we shared certain car costs like the daily petrol costs. That really helped me save some costs throughout my 6 months too. If you are lucky, some friends might even share the maintenance costs of the car with you, so more cost savings!

4. Advantages and Disadvantage of Buying and Renting

So here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of buying or renting a car during your time there. Take these recommendations with a pinch of salt because eventually, it still boils down to what suits your travel style and risk appetite.

Buying your own CarRenting a Car
+ Have the liberty of owning the car for the full period of your working holiday– Need to consider the period you want to rent the car for, may not be cost-efficient to rent a car throughout, so there may be days that you have no car and is limited in your movement around the town, especially if there are limited public transport around.
+ Insurance is much cheaper and cost of maintaining or repairing car is mangeable compared to if you damaged a rental car– Utmost care in not damaging the car unless you bought insurance with it. Otherwise, cost of paying for damages to the car is high.
– Need to bring it to maintenance especially if you’ve been travelling extensively with it+ Cars are usually maintained by the operator and some do offer a 1-for-1 exchange if car does not function properly during your rental period
– Huge amount of cash stuck in buying a car upfront+ Pay per use basis, no need to tie in cash upfront with the rental car
+/- Need to sell your car at the end of the working holiday (might be sold at a loss if you’re unlucky, but again you may sell it at the cost you bought it for so your car is considered free!)+ No problem of having to sell a car at the end of your working holiday, but it’s sunk costs that can not be recoverable
– Might be buying an older car as compared to renting+ Able to rent a newer model of the car


I hope this helped you out in your decision to buy or rent a car during your working holiday in New Zealand!! If you’re keen to rent during your working holiday, feel free to check out the car deals on They’re a trusted travel leader which boasts of 24/7 English customer service that would be most useful if you ever meet with any issues during your travels.

Also, feel free to head on to my other articlesif you’re curious to know how much it costs me to own a car in New Zealand or know what a buyer should look out for when buying a car for the first time.

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