First off, I have arrived in New Zealand and have been spending the past few days in Auckland. The consensus is that Auckland is a nice city, but lacking any real “wow” factor. I find this to be generally true. There were some things that surprised me, notably the incredible amount of Asians.
Now, the car. When you first arrive in New Zealand, you quickly realize that almost every backpacker buys either a campervan or station wagon. Literally, everybody. Personally, I hate cars. They are nothing but expensive liabilities where invariably something will break and you’ll end up paying loads to fix it. Add the cost of fuel and insurance, and it won’t be long before you’re in tears.
However, the many people I have spoken with agree that there is no better way to see the country than by car. Further, the luxury of a campervan or station wagon gives you steeply discounted lodging throughout the country, so long as you’re comfortable sleeping in your car. I came across a good blog post on buying a car which helped me make my decision to purchase some wheels.
What really convinced me however was the market conditions. Brace yourself, I’m about to get nerdy. New Zealand in May is down season. Most backpackers are packing up and heading home for the winter. Obviously they can’t take their cars with them, so they put them up for sale. With so many cars on the market and so few buyers, assuming you do your homework, you can score a pretty sweat deal. The beauty of supply and demand.
Conversely, flocks of backpackers return to New Zealand come spring. In October, the demand for cars is incredibly high and quantities limited. Consequently, the selling prices are much, much higher. It is very possible that I can sell the car at the same price that I bought it. Even considering the cost of insurance and fuel, it is cheaper than taking the bus and staying in hostels. I know it’s a gamble, but it might just work.
Either way, I’m in the market. Hopefully over the next few days I will find something which suits my needs – then I’ll have plenty of freedom to explore all this place has to offer.