Home » Buying a Car in New Zealand: The Beginner’s Guide

Buying a Car in New Zealand: The Beginner’s Guide

Buying a car can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Today I’m going to show you the ways you can buy a car in New Zealand. I remember feeling overwhelmed researching how to buy a car in New Zealand. I had so many questions about buying a car but could not get a straight answer.

In this guide I will get you straight to the point so you can begin your car buying process.

There’s a few key things that need to happen before purchasing a car. You need to know which car you want to buy, it’s cost and where to buy it from. Even if you’re not on New Zealand soil yet you can start the process of making some of these decisions from anywhere around the world. 

Decide Which Car to Buy

A parked black Honda Jazz.
My 2019 Honda Jazz

One of the bigger decisions you will need to make is which type of car you should buy. New Zealand’s inventory might look different from other parts of the world. The most registered car in New Zealand in 2020 was a Ford Ranger. The Toyota RAV4 is the most popular registered SUV in New Zealand for 2020 with the Kia Sportage coming in as a tight 2nd.   

Some things to consider


Depending on where you are coming from, gasoline (petrol) might be more expensive in New Zealand.  Compared to the states petrol here is more costly. 

average global prices from 28/12/20 – 05/04/21
Electric vs. petrol

Cars that run on petrol are usually less expensive than electric vehicles. Did you know that New Zealand wants to have an increase of 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2021?  In New Zealand electric vehicles emit 80% less CO2 than petrol vehicles. New Zealand government wants to decrease emissions and is incentivizing owning electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are exempt from road user chargers and save owners NZD $600 a year. 

New vs. Used

If you are buying used keep in mind that a used car must pass the New Zealand warrant of fitness check. Here’s some examples of prices for new and used vehicles in New Zealand. 

CarPrice NZD
Honda Jazz$31,790 + ORC
Honda CRV$40,990 + ORC
Susuki Swift$26,500 + ORC
Nissan Leaf$61,990 + ORC
New Car Prices 2021
CarPrice NZD
2019 Honda Jazz$25,950
2019 Honda CRV$35,950
2018 Susuki Swift$24,990
2017 Nissan Leaf$21,990
Used Car Prices 2021
On road costs

Depending on which type of car you choose to buy you might need to pay on-road costs or ORCs. This cost will cover registration costs, warrant of fitness costs, and  Road User Charges for diesel vehicles. Depending on dealerships on road costs can vary in price. Prices range from NZD $350 to $595 for used cars or $795 to $1300 for new cars.

A parked silver Toyota Estima Minivan
Toyota Estima Minivan

An option is to take your time and rent a few cars in New Zealand before making a big purchase. For example I rented a Toyota Estima Minivan and a Mazda CX-5 before buying my car. For the minivan reservations I used Scotties Car Rentals. They have locations in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. We rented our van from Christchurch and dropped it off in Wellington.

Once you have a good idea of which car you want to buy you’ll need a place to buy it from.

Decide Where to buy

Deciding where to buy your New Zealand car can be as challenging as deciding what type of car to buy. The options on where to buy include buying directly from the owner, buying from a used car lot, or buying from a new car dealer. 

TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace are popular sites in New Zealand to buy cars. TradeMe works similar to Craigslist in the States. You can usually get a good deal using these sites. If you go this route be prepared to get a proof of inspection, a certificate of fitness, a warrant of fitness, and registration.

Two small children walking through the isles of a used car lot
Used car lot in Lower Hutt

Another option is buying a car through a used car lot. These companies typically have a lot of inventory to choose from, affordable prices, and financing options. If you are going to be in the Lower Hutt area I recommend Trade in Clearance. New car lots in NZ are very similar to car lots in the united states.

Alternatively you can buy a car from a new car dealer. Dealerships offer full packages which include the car warranties, registration, and insurance. Some of the financing options at dealerships can be tricky if you are not a New Zealand Citizen. Financing loan term length depends on visa length. For example if your visa is for 6 months, you will only be eligible to finance over 6 months. Be sure to ask the dealerships about the ORCs. We purchased a used vehicle from the Wellington Honda Dealership and did not have ORCs.

Get Paperwork in order

The final step of the process will include lots of paperwork. Make sure to bring identification and supporting documents along with you. Some of the documents I needed were:

  • Photo Identification
  • Driver’s License
  • New Zealand physical address 
  • New Zealand mailing address

If you need to register your vehicle here’s the NZ government site. Here is the NZ government site to buying and selling.

Consider public transportation

The Metlink train and bus system can be a good option in Wellington and Auckland. There are a few you things you should know about public transportation before climbing on board. The ticketing system is outdated and requires a paper ticket purchased at select stations. Not every train or bus station offers these paper tickets. Tickets may be purchased as a single trip, 10 trips, or for one month. These tickets must be purchased in person and they cannot be renewed or purchased online. Stations that sell these tickets often do not keep regular hours and are often unstaffed without warning. You must know your final destination before purchasing a ticket as this will change the ticket price. Tickets ca be purchased on the train but it is more costly and must be purchased with cash.

Once you navigate the antiquated ticketing system, public transportation can be a fun option for getting around. Sit back and enjoy the views. The train is quiet and tends to run on time. Outside of peak travel times it is also easy to find a seat or even bring your bike on board. Considering the train or bus for your commute can be an alternative to buying a car in Auckland or Wellington.

metlink train waiting at train station for passengers to load.

Thanks to “Buying a Car in New Zealand: The Beginner’s Guide” you have everything you need to get started. You now have an idea of what car you want to buy, where you want to buy it from, and what paperwork you need to finalize the sale.

Get started and let me know how it goes! Comment down below which type of car you’d use, electric vs. petrol?

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2 thoughts on “Buying a Car in New Zealand: The Beginner’s Guide

  1. Hello! Thank you for this helpful info. Do you happen to know if scooters are allowed on the roads in NZ? I was thinking of buying one in the US, using it for a few months, then bringing it with me.

    1. I’m so happy to hear. Wellington and Auckland seem to be scooter friendly. I see a lot of them around. They’re even available for rent on the streets. Here’s the NZ government site on motorcycles and mopeds.

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