4 min read

Can foreigners buy a car in New Zealand?

Traversing New Zealand in a private vehicle lets you get the most out of your holiday.
By · June 28, 2023
Can foreigners buy a car in New Zealand?

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!

New Zealand is an ideal country for exploring by car. With its breathtaking landscapes and no shortage of scenic routes, traversing the country in a private vehicle lets you get the most out of your holiday.

If you're a foreigner considering buying a car in New Zealand, you may have questions about the process, requirements, costs, and other important factors.

Why buy a car for your holiday in New Zealand?

If you plan on travelling in New Zealand for an extended period of time, buying a car is a cost-effective option. New Zealand is a long narrow country with many sparsely populated towns. Most of the attractions are based around adventure sports, beautiful natural landscapes, or national parks. To get to these places, you need a vehicle.

Is buying a car the best way to explore New Zealand?

First of all, you can always book a spot on a bus tour. There are lots of different types of tours, some more guided than others, that will take you to all the main areas of interest. While this is a great way to see the country, it doesn’t allow for much personalised travel. If you want to spend an extra night in one location, move on quickly, or explore the many small towns or geographical areas that are off the beaten path, you’ll likely miss out by travelling with a tour bus.

Another option is a car or van hire service. Hire cars or vans are a great option as you can explore the country for as long as you like via any route you like. The only downside is the cost. It costs between $40/day - $150/day to hire a car. The price increases depending on what type and size of car you hire, but you can easily spend $3,000-$4,000 on the price of hiring a car or campervan alone.

The third option is buying a car. If you are travelling for more than a month, buying a car is often worth the investment. If you are only in New Zealand for three weeks, don’t waste precious time trying to buy and sell a vehicle to buy. However, if you plan on being here for an extended period, buying a car can save you thousands of dollars.

Can Foreigners Buy a Car in New Zealand?

Yes, foreigners can buy a car in New Zealand, even if they are non-residents or tourists. You don’t need anything in particular to buy a car in New Zealand. However, it is easier to buy a car with a New Zealand driver’s licence for identification. Getting an NZ driver’s licence is relatively straightforward for most nationalities. We cover how here.

If you have a NZ driver’s licence, you can complete the vehicle purchase online. Otherwise, you must fill out some paper forms at an NZ Post Shop or AA centre.

Finding the Right Car

When it comes to purchasing a car, the second-hand market in New Zealand is a popular choice for both locals and foreigners. Used cars offer excellent value for money, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something that fits the bill.

Websites like Trade Me, Turners, and Autotrader are great online platforms for searching for a wide range of used cars available throughout the country. Additionally, you can explore local car dealerships and notice boards for more options.

Popular affordable car brands in New Zealand are:

  • Toyota

  • Hyundai

  • Subaru

  • Honda

  • Mazda

Cost and Condition

The average cost of a used car in New Zealand varies depending on factors such as age, make, model, mileage, and condition. As a general guideline, you can expect to find vehicles in the range of NZD $2,000 to $5,000. Spending any more on a vehicle could mean you’ll lose money when you sell it in a few months' time.

It's important to note that prices can vary significantly, and conducting thorough research will help you make an informed decision. Consider the vehicle's service history, Warrant of Fitness (WoF) expiry date, and whether it has a current registration.

Vehicle Inspection and History Check

Before making a purchase, it's a good idea to have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic or an authorised inspection service. This step ensures you know of any potential issues or hidden defects. You can take your vehicle to VTNZ for a pre-purchase inspection. These are around $100 and will ensure a trusted, licenced and independent mechanic checks the car over.

Ownership Transfer and Insurance

Once you've chosen a car, the next step is to transfer ownership. Both the buyer and the seller need to complete the appropriate forms, which are available from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website. It's also essential to arrange insurance coverage before driving the vehicle. Comprehensive insurance will protect you against potential accidents, theft, and damage.

Purchasing a car in New Zealand as a foreigner is pretty easy and will give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to balancing your itinerary and your budget.

Need help getting your vehicle delivered to your door? Find a trusted vehicle mover on Wise Move.

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.
Havelock North
Reviewed 8 hours ago
Mark was so good at communicating
Reviewed 8 hours ago
would use gavin again anytime , kept me updated . was there when he said he would be , nothing was a problem to him , took good care of my classic vehicle
Ford escape
Waiau Pa
Dunedin North, Dunedin
Reviewed 10 hours ago
Gavin is a brilliant contractor. Very professional . Attention to detail and excellent communication. Great price as well. I would not hesitate to use his service again
Jaguar F Pace
Greenlane, Auckland
Huntington, Hamilton
Reviewed 11 hours ago
The service was fast and no hassle very well done thank you
Reviewed 14 hours ago
Good price great service will use again thanks
Toyota Hi Ace
Saint Marys Bay, Auckland
Palmerston North
Reviewed 23 hours ago
Nick was great to deal with and provided a really prompt delivery.
Halswell, Christchurch
Frankton, Queenstown
Reviewed 1 day ago
Matt went above and beyond to help us with our needs! Would recommend this service to anyone
Mazda Verissa
Tinwald, Ashburton
Reviewed 1 day ago
Express Movers did a great job delivering my car from Auckland to Christchurch at short notice. Even with ferry disruptions, they delivered quickly, for a competitive price, and were able to answer any questions I had. Highly recommend.

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