5 min read

Buying a car in New Zealand: What you need to know

Buying a car is a popular choice for many people who are moving to New Zealand.
Buying a car in New Zealand: What you need to know

Car transport services at low-cost across NZ

Expert car shipping service, trusted by thousands of car owners across NZ.
Car type
Newshub Stuff SCOOP Yahoo!

Buying a car is a popular choice for many people who are moving to New Zealand. Whether you’re moving here for one year or ten, buying a vehicle is considered one of the easiest ways to get around.

Why buy a car in New Zealand?

If you’re moving to Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, you can probably get around without a vehicle, provided you live on a transport route or close to the CBD. While New Zealand is small, it’s not that small.

The towns are fairly spread out, and the country lacks a passenger rail system between cities. Many small towns don’t have frequent or reliable public transport. Plus, there’s so much to see and do outside the main centres, so a car is the easiest way to see the country’s stunning scenery.

There are alternatives to owning a vehicle, however. Ride-sharing platforms such as Uber and Ola provide a safe way to reach your local destination. Mevo and CityHop operate in most large centres and make hiring a car by the hour easy. Plus, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown all have transport systems that make it possible to easily and reliably get around. If you do decide to buy a car in New Zealand, here’s what you should know.

Buying a car in New Zealand

Determine Your Budget:

Before embarking on your car-buying journey, it's essential to establish a realistic budget. Consider your financial situation, including the upfront purchase cost and ongoing expenses such as registration, insurance, fuel, and maintenance. Remember to allocate funds for a pre-purchase inspection and potential repairs or modifications.

Make sure you’re researching New Zealand prices rather than relying on what you’re used to overseas. For example, fuel is more expensive in New Zealand and may take up a significant portion of your budget.

Choose Between New or Used:

While purchasing a brand-new car may not be the norm in New Zealand, it's still worth considering. However, keep in mind that buying a new car is a lot more expensive, and depreciation happens the moment you drive it off the lot.

Unlike in the United States, financing or leasing a vehicle from a dealership is not very common. Most New Zealanders prefer to buy second-hand as there’s a strong market for reliable, second-hand Japanese cars. Plus, kiwis are a thrifty bunch. If you’re worried about making the right impression, don’t. You won’t look out of place driving a mid-2010s Subaru or Toyota. Even a one year old car is cheaper than a brand new model.

Buying a used car from a reputable dealer or through a private sale on TradeMe is a popular choice. Used cars offer better value for money and a wider range of options within your budget.

Conduct Thorough Research:

Research is key to finding the right car that suits your needs and budget. Use online platforms, local classifieds, and car dealerships to explore the available options. Consider factors such as fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, safety features, reliability, and resale value. Pay attention to the vehicle's history, mileage, and any reported accidents or issues.

Arrange a Pre-Purchase Inspection:

Always get a pre-purchase inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic before finalising your decision. You can take your car to the VTNZ (Vehicle Testing New Zealand) if you don't have a mechanic. For around $200 you can get an independent test that covers everything you need to know about the vehicle's condition. This inspection helps identify any existing or potential issues affecting the car's performance, safety, or value. You’ll also need to ensure the vehicle has a current Warrant of Fitness.

Understand Insurance Options:

While car insurance isn't compulsory in New Zealand, having at least third-party coverage is highly recommended. Third-party insurance protects you from liability if you cause damage to someone else's vehicle or property. Comprehensive insurance provides additional coverage for damage to your vehicle, theft, or accidents.

Research different insurance providers, compare policies, and choose the best option for your needs and budget. You can also put additional drivers on your insurance if you want to share a vehicle with a friend or flatmate and add AA Roadservice - similar to AAA in the United States.

Transfer Ownership and Registration:

Once you've purchased the vehicle, transfer the ownership and register the car in your name as soon as possible. You can do this through the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). You’ll need some documentation, including a valid WoF, proof of purchase, and identification.

Getting a New Zealand Driver's Licence:

Obtaining a New Zealand licence is relatively straightforward if you're from overseas and hold a valid driver's licence. Depending on your situation, you can convert your current licence directly without needing to sit a practical driving test. Even so, you should familiarise yourself with the New Zealand road rules and requirements since here; we drive on the left-hand side. For more information about getting a New Zealand driver's licence, visit the NZTA website.

You'll need to:

  • Fill out an online form

  • Prove your identity

  • Take an eyesight test

  • Provide a medical certificate (if required)

  • Show your overseas driver's licence (with a translation if it is not in English)

  • Prove your licence is valid (if from India, Pakistan or Tonga)

  • Pose for a new driver’s licence photo

  • Supply your signature

  • Pay the application fee

  • Provide high-quality, colour photocopies of any original documents you've provided

Need help getting your vehicle from the dealership or seller to your home? Wise Move can help. Find trusted vehicle transportation services anywhere in the country. Book your vehicle move today.

Car transport services at low-cost across NZ

Expert car shipping service, trusted by thousands of car owners across NZ.
Car type
Newshub Stuff SCOOP Yahoo!

What do our customers say?

Read reviews of Wise Move to learn stories from our customers.
Palmerston North
Reviewed 1 day ago
Quick, organised, friendly service. Excellent
Suzuki Swift SR
Reviewed 1 day ago
Outstanding customer service...Mark was very reassuring with me being first timer using car transport Would highly recommend... grateful thanks for care taken
Dodge DU12
Reviewed 1 day ago
The team at YHT were great to deal with, looked after the car and delivered it on time. They kept us in the loop the whole time.
Massey, Auckland
Mahora, Hastings
Reviewed 2 days ago
Massey, Auckland
Reviewed 2 days ago
Excellent service from start to finish. Highly recommended
Henderson, Auckland
Johnsonville, Wellington
Reviewed 2 days ago
Brilliant service on short notice. Communicated throughout the process and was punctual on delivery. Would definitely recommend his services!
Hamilton East, Hamilton
Islington, Blenheim
Reviewed 2 days ago
Excellent service, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend or use again.
Reviewed 3 days ago
Couldn't have been easier and professional to deal with. I would definitely use them again and recommend them to anyone else without hesitation. Very happy😁.

For every (wise)move

TradeMe purchase pickup and delivery service across NZ
TradeMe Delivery
Get your heavy-large TradeMe purchase picked up and delivered by our movers anywhere in NZ.
Learn more
Car transport nz
Car Transport
Our professional car transport teams from across New Zealand are the best at what they do.
Learn more
Motorbike transport nz
Motorcycle Transport
Our pros take everything into consideration when ensuring the safety and well-being of your bike.
Learn more
Piano transport
Piano Move
Moving a piano requires the expertise to ensure is kept safe and protected on the road.
Learn more
Furniture removals
Furniture Removals
Our teams will treat your possessions like they would their own, ensuring that the greatest care and diligence is taken.
Learn more
Pet transport nz
Pet Transport
During the transport our teams will ensure full care, well-being and friendliness as if they were our own.
Learn more
Boat transport nz
Boat Transport
Our transport teams will ensure your boats will be delivered safely, efficiently and on time.
Learn more