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Can foreigners buy a car in New Zealand?

Traversing New Zealand in a private vehicle lets you get the most out of your holiday.
Can foreigners buy a car in New Zealand?

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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.
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What do our customers say?

Read reviews of Wise Move to learn stories from our customers.
Vauxhall Viva
Glen Eden, Auckland
Reviewed 1 hour ago
The driver was great. He waited around when the trade me seller didn't show up on time and he even pushed the vehicle into the shed for me. Awesome service
Henderson, Auckland
Wigram, Christchurch
Reviewed 2 hours ago
It was a great experience with ASAP Transport and a special thanks to mark for being so considerate to my requests. The transport was quick and hassle free, really happy with it.
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Reviewed 3 hours ago
Great service, good communication, reasonable charge!
Bucklands Beach, Auckland
Parnell, Auckland
Reviewed 5 hours ago
10 out of 10 I do recommend
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Reviewed 7 hours ago
Very easy to deal with, good communication throughout the process
Milson, Palmerston North
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A great experience dealing with Alex. He was punctual and kept me upto date with progress. Would definitely recommend him to anyone and would use his services again
Papamoa Beach, Papamoa
Reviewed 3 days ago
Andy Collins was very professional … the communication was excellent and Andy was very respectful of the vehicle … excellent job … thank you Andy
Volkswagen Beetle
Yaldhurst, Christchurch
Albert Town
Reviewed 3 days ago
Awesome service. Thank you.

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