Car Rental Between North & South Islands of New Zealand

If you’re ready to hit the road for your ultimate road trip adventure, New Zealand is one of the best countries to visit. With a host of car rental companies that you can choose from, you can easily travel anywhere in the North or South Islands.

So whether you want to experience the feel of middle earth, visit a marine volcano, or just feast your eyes around the beautiful countryside, you can definitely get it on your New Zealand visit. There are lots of places to see. Hobbiton, Edoras, Auckland, Coromandel Coastlines … you name it.

Now, if this is your first time to visit, you will be happy to know that there are different options to travel around New Zealand. Aside from going on a road trip, you could take to the skies by plane, or sail on one of the many New Zealand Cruises on offer.

Going on a road trip is one of the best options to take since you will be travelling at your own pace. Or you can combine the three to get the best experience. And in case you are wondering how you can cross the islands with a car in tow, read on to find out what these car rental companies do it.

Hiring a Car in New Zealand

One of the realities of travelling is that if you’re travelling with a group, you will always be in a hurry to reach all the places in your itinerary. This often results in your inability to really absorb and feel the beauty of each place you’re visiting.

This won’t happen if you have a car with you. Aside from having control of the places where you want to stop, you will also have the freedom to spend as much time as you want in a certain location.

If you’re going to several locations where there is a need to fly or take a ferry, you can book for a car in each location that you will use for your travels.

Car Rental Options Between the North and South Islands

In New Zealand, you will be amazed at how many car options you will have, whether you’re in North Island or South Island. Car hire companies such as Europcar, Avis, Ace, Budget, and Hertz offer great deals depending on the location you are in.

Multi-Island Hire and Car Rental Operator Policies

To aid you in your search for the best car hire company to make your North and South Island tours a blast, let’s take a closer look at the policies of some of the more popular car rental companies in New Zealand. Note, these are the policies of the companies themselves if booking directly with the company.


Europcar is one of the best car rental companies that you can approach if you want to have a multi-island car rental. It may sound a little complicated, but what you can do is to create a booking that includes both North and South islands. They will split this into two separate bookings for both islands. Don’t worry, there will be no changes in the price. Just make sure to notify Europcar when you’re about to travel to the other island. They have a ferry terminal station where you can drop off the vehicle, and then you can board the ferry to travel to the other island. Once you arrive, you will be given another vehicle which has the same size and features as the other car.

But, before booking, you can review their policy so you won’t miss anything:

  • You should be at least 21 years old (applies to most countries)
  • Young driver surcharge if any of the drivers is under 25
  • Local driving licence issued by your country of residence
  • Identification documents (this can be a passport or ID card)
  • Valid credit card

Take note that Europcar has a deposit policy. This means that you will be asked to leave a deposit for your rental car once you arrive at the rental location. However, this will not be debited from your card immediately; it will just be blocked on your card. The deposit will cover extra charges such as missing fuel when the car is returned, an extra day, extra mileage and one-way charge.


Avis’ procedure for multi-island rental car hire is almost the same as Europcar, although it sounds a little better. They have a specific booking called Multi-Island Hire. Once you choose this as your option, they will automatically set up your entire journey. You just need to provide them with your travel dates and itinerary so that they will have your car ready from the pick-up date, the pick-up locations in both north and south islands, and the drop-off point when you’re done with your journey.

Here are their car rental policies:

  • You should have an up-to-date full valid driver’s licence which is appropriate for the type of vehicle you will be renting.
  • Driver’s licence should be in English; otherwise, it should be accompanied by an accredited translation which is issued by an authorised NZ transport agency. If this is not possible for you, you can get a diplomatic representative at the embassy or consulate, or you can ask the authorised person who issued your overseas licence to translate your ID.
  • You have to be at least 21 years old. Drivers between 21-24 years of age will be asked for a surcharge.
  • You can have other people drive the rental car, however, their names should appear in the rental agreement.
  • You need to have a valid credit or debit card for payment purposes. They accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Diner’s Club.


Compared to Europcar and Avis, Ace has a different approach to inter-island car hires. Although they do allow using different cars on different islands, they encourage their renters to keep the same car for the whole duration of the trip since it is cheaper. If the renter opts to just use two cars, there should be two reservations for each journey.

They can book your interisland ferry travel for an additional cost; you just need to give them the date and time you prefer to cross, as well as the passenger’s names. Ferry tickets should be paid in full prior to booking - they will charge a 5% fee for cancellations.

Let’s take a look at Ace’s car rental policies:

  • You need to pay a deposit of 10% at the time of booking. If you want to pay the full amount at this time, you’re welcome to do so.
  • If you decide to cancel the rental car, you will be obligated to pay a 10% fee.
  • As opposed to Europcar and Avis, the minimum age requirement for drivers in Ace is 18 years old.
  • All drivers should have a valid and unrestricted driver’s licence. You can present an overseas licence, but there are certain conditions: First is, you shouldn’t have received any disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and you should have been staying in the country for less than a year and know the road rules in the country.
  • If you wish to have other people drive the car, you should also write their names in the rental agreement.
  • If your driver’s licence is in another language, you have to get it translated by an authorised translator. This may be an authorised translation service, a diplomatic representative at the embassy or consulate, or the authority that handed your driver’s licence.


Like other rental car companies in New Zealand, Budget has car rental fleets in both the North and South islands. They have what they call a special type of booking called the Multi-Island Hire. With this special booking, a renter will have one continuous booking for the entire journey. You just need to drop off the rented car at the port and collect it at your destination. Unlike the other rental car companies, they basically don’t switch cars. This option makes it possible for the renter to pay lower prices … definitely a good option for those who are on a tight budget.

So if you want to use Budget for your car rental needs, just start by making a reservation for your whole journey (mention your pick-up date and drop-off location) and they will set up everything for you. Take note, though, that you should have at least 3 days rental period in each island to be eligible.

Budget's car policies are basically similar to other car rental companies. There are just additional policies for younger drivers (aged 21-24).

  • Renters between ages 21-24 should present a valid credit card. They don't accept debit cards.
  • Renters of these ages should also present a valid driver's licence.
  • A $27 per day surcharge fee is applicable for ages 21-24.
  • Drivers between 21-24 are not allowed to rent luxury cars, mini-vans, 12-passenger vans, specialty vehicles, full-size SUVs, or premium SUV's.
  • Additional drivers should be 25 years old or older and will be asked to present their valid driver's licence and credit cards.


Hertz’s inter-island car rental program doesn’t allow their cars to be transported to the other island. Although you can keep the same car the whole time you’re travelling on one island, once you make the cross over to the island, you have to surrender it and have another car on the other island.

Upon booking, they will need to know the date and time you’re sailing between the islands and which ferry you will be onboard. This ensures that your car will be ready as soon as you arrive.

Take note that if the vehicle is not returned on the same island where it was rented, the renter will be charged a maximum of NZD1,000.

Just like the other rental companies, Hertz's minimum allowable age for drivers is 21 years old, although there will be charges for drivers between 21 and 24.

Here are some of Hertz's car policies:

  • The hirer should return the vehicle on the specified end date, otherwise, he will be asked to pay a fee for each additional day
  • If hirer exceeds maximum travel distance agreed upon, he will be charged a fee
  • The hirer will be held liable for any loss or damage of any spare parts during the hire period

You may check Hertz's website for more policies so you will be able to assess if this car company is for you.

Who operates Ferries Between North and South Islands


The Interislander ferry is the longest running Cook Strait ferry service in New Zealand. Bookings can be made on the following links for the Wellington to Picton Ferry or the Picton to Wellington Ferry.


Bluebridge is another Ferry service provider offering a full cafe-style menu, free movies, WiFi and activities for the kids. Book your Bluebridge Ferry transfer here.

Travelling to the North and South islands in New Zealand is a journey that everyone wants to take, but only a few get to experience it. If you belong to the few of the lucky ones who can do this in their lifetime, we hope that you will have an amazing experience. Again, hiring a car that you can take with you on your journey will help you travel at your own pace and will make you appreciate your journey even more.

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