Family of 4 moving to New Zealand

AK Burwell

New member
Cool. Do you know where you will be working/living? North/South island? Rural or city?
We're working on sorting out where we'd like to go. Ideally source the location, job and visa long before the flight over. The practical side of having small kids and possible urban needs but not wanting congestion or long commutes to get into nature means we'd like to ideally be on the rural/urban fringe. Most of my wife's colleagues have worked on the North Island. I haven't done enough research to develop an opinion yet.

In the effort of full transparency - we're 2 years from our move so this thread is part information gathering then planning then execution so hold on for an epic! Kids ages were projected out to our trip too so we've got our hands full with little ones as well and appreciate the patience should there be lag's in appreciation or reply.

From this thread so far I think it makes more sense to set aside the cash to buy something over there as RHD would be fun/unique/helpful driving against the grain. Also being a big time Toyota fan I'd like to consider what would be the most fun for day-day driving and weekend adventures. Initial used postings on 80 series, 100 series, Ute Hilux CC or 70 Series Ute or go more campervan conversion on the Hiace/Liteace vans if able to be found in 4WD plus seat 4 safely, not a gutted back with full RV set up. A recent Adventure Ace caught my eye as pretty ************** and practical (see attached). Others I could see picking up something like this: https://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars/toyota/auction-1954771588.htm?rsqid=557d4e44d925436dab7c1a5cdc75504f and adding a 4 person RTT and not having a whole lot else to add for the rugged tours.
 

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luthj

Engineer In Residence
4x4 toyota hiace vans are around, they do command a bit of a premium. Mitsu 4x4 vans are also about, likely a bit cheaper. Mid sized suvs from various Japanese makers can be found with AWD/4WD, and will seat 4. Toss a modest sized caravan behind for sleeping arrangements.

RTTs are not super common in NZ. For good reason I would think. When it rains there, it doesn't stop. The wind can be absolutely nuts in places, especially on the coastal south island. Planning a longer excursion, and having the weather close in means you will be stuck (often soaking wet) in the RTT. A van, caravan, or campervan can make this weather bearable. You park up and wait for a break in the weather. Then do your thing. Auckland for example rains 185 days per year. Being surrounded by ocean weather is high variable and difficult to predict. Much less so than the North American continent.

As mentioned 4x4 is really only needed if you plan on technical 4x4 tracks (lots of mud) or you like beach driving. Though campgrounds can turn into quick-mud real quick in the winter though.

We drove over 25,000km in NZ, and there was only a handful of times we actually wished for 4x4. Both were in poorly picked spots in campgrounds (winter rainy season). There are numerous forest 4x4 tracks, but they are tight and steep often. Not suitable for weekend outings in a nice vehicle, especially a larger one that seats 4+. That's just my opinion of course.

Given NZs population density, the north island has few dirt roads in general (at least to places you would really want to go). The south island has quite a few more gravel roads and tracks, due to its much lower population density. Most actual roads are decently well maintained, and not really 4x4 roads. There are some worthwhile tracks there, but they can be highly seasonal.

I would suggest digging into the 4x4 and off-road enthusiast forums for NZ before you make any firm decisions. Lots of great info I would guess.


Do you plan on visiting Australia while you are in NZ? Its a short flight away, and Aus has more dirt tracks per capita than any other 1st world country. Shipping your NZ vehicle over for a month or two may be worthwhile.
 
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Paddler Ed

Adventurer
I'm just organising my permanent visa here in Australia; the processing time is about 2 yrs at the moment from start to finish, just so that you aware... I don't think NZ is a long, but that gives you something to be aware of.
 

Wyuna

Observer
Any particular make/model 4x4 vans you recommend? I had a buddy years ago with some sort of spaceship looking Toyota that trickled down from BC but can't recall what it was. Seems like MItsubishi and Toyota win the day on the one used site I looked.
Sorry i didn't see your reply,

I would't go past a 4x4 Diesel Hi ace, the Mitsubishi's are good as well they have the drive line from a Trition, just watch out for the petrol V6 as it chews through the gas.

Trade me is a good site to look at vehicles, Trade Me (NZ eBay version) is the go to website in NZ

I found vehicles and Rego over there quite cheap, it's just the Fuel that is expensive.
 

AK Burwell

New member
Hi ✌ Expo Members! Sorry for the radio silence... life has gotten busy, plans discussed/changed and well there's been a pandemic I've heard. Trying to flush out a plan that gives us a few years of stateside adventure (in the new era of the roadtrip being the safest way to explore) and something to move/explore NZ with. Thinking about a 4wd Sprinter, regular roof 140 wb and the Sportsmobile pop top.

What I've learned - shipping can be reasonable for a vehicle this size if it's 8' 5" H meaning it fits in container. Approx: $1700 each way vs. $5000+ for roll on/off which also has to be an empty rig. This height can be achieved creatively either by airing down or removing the tires and essentially palletizing the rig.

So I'm wondering if anyone has any experience going this route be it NZ or elsewhere with cargo shipping a vehicles and importing said vehicle? Seems like the MB Sprinter is the most practical choice the application as it's readily available in NZ, rugged-ish, loads of aftermarket options, sleeping 4, and being shaped like a box to move our gear around in. Thanks again for sticking around if you get this message or if you are new to the thread.
 

AbleGuy

TeamSuicideChipmunks
Make sure to read up early before you go about the quarantine rules they have regarding bringing in your dog from the US (currently a Category 3 country).

EDIT:
It seems that bringing a dog in from the USA might not only require having your pooch arrive at a different airport (one designated for those pet arrivals), extra permits and papers but probably also a 10 day quarantine upon arrival.
 
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AK Burwell

New member
Make sure to read up early before you go about the quarantine rules they have regarding bringing in your dog from the US (currently a Category 3 country).
Yeah, we do have two dogs but they're getting older and likely not coming on this journey. Our Aussie we thought may be able but having second thoughts. Our vet just said it's an extra rabies shot or two... have things changed in the last 4 months? Thanks for the pointer.
 

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Paddler Ed

Adventurer
First up have a read of this PDF:

"What about left-hand drive vehicles?
New Zealand is a country that requires vehicles to be right-hand drive. If you are considering importing a left-hand drive vehicle, see Factsheet 12 Importing a left-hand drive vehicle. "


Bascially, I don't think a LHD 4x4 Sprinter will class under their rules - but you can always ask.
 

AK Burwell

New member
First up have a read of this PDF:

"What about left-hand drive vehicles?
New Zealand is a country that requires vehicles to be right-hand drive. If you are considering importing a left-hand drive vehicle, see Factsheet 12 Importing a left-hand drive vehicle. "


Bascially, I don't think a LHD 4x4 Sprinter will class under their rules - but you can always ask.
Thanks Ed. I was searching around the transport website just last night and realized these doc's are prob a deal breaker. Don't think the family is going to want to camp in a Euro or US muscle car lol (previous permits granted) and since these vans are available in RHD and in NZ and not a car but a forward control van over 7k lbs it's pretty clear this won't be a thing. Thanks for info.
 

515

New member
Mr Burwell,

I live in NZ, feel free to message me and I will try to help with any questions you have.

Regards,
515
 

AK Burwell

New member
Mr Burwell,

I live in NZ, feel free to message me and I will try to help with any questions you have.

Regards,
515
Thanks so much for reaching out. So from what I've gathered it seems like a LHD small van/RV type of vehicle likely won't get approved for import. Is this accurate from what you see and understand? An ex-pat friend in Hawkes Bay says really the only LHD vehicles are muscle and collector cars.
 

AK Burwell

New member
NZ is a first world country with modern conveniences and low sulfur diesel. Fuel is expensive, but a big part of that is road taxes. Diesel vehicles are taxed differently. They pay Road User Charges (RUC) by their gross weight and vehicle class. These are paid per km, and done when you register vehicle. Some vehicle classes are cheaper, so check the fee schedules. Some pick-ups (called utilities or "utes") have a lower tax rate or can be written off on business taxes. So there are quite a few flatbed pickups (utes) with 4x4 running around.

Imported new vehicles are expensive, however smaller used Japanese imports (from japan) are not very expensive, and good on fuel.

True 4x4 roads which are needed to access an area are not common in NZ. There are plenty of 4x4 trails about, but you can easily bypass them on a paved road in most cases. You wan't something that rides well on undulating roads, as the constant rain, and paving method they use results in roads quite different than most north americans are used too.

Used older vehicles are not very common in NZ. At least not ones old enough to import in the USA. Anything up to about 68" track width and 23ft long should not pose any real problems on the roads. Larger than that can push up the pucker factor on secondary roads.

Another option is to buy a 30ft RV of some style, or a caravan (trailer). These can easily sleep 4. Have a smaller SUV to tow it. Given the lower speeds, there is no need to a big tow vehicle which eats fuel and is annoying to drive and park. A lot depends on the exchange rate, but be prepared for some sticker shock. Everything is imported, and the importers take a big chunk... You will find that just about anything specialty or even less common vehicle parts are about half the costs imported via international mail. We just ordered stuff and have it shipped combined.

You could possibly import a caravan (RV trailer). There is some electrical and propane stuff that needs to be done, but would not be expensive if done before shipping. You would likely make most of your shipping costs back on the sale, maybe even some profit. All RVs/campers that want to use the free camps all over NZ must have a self containment certification. This means checking your plumbing, water, toilet etc to meet the specs. If you want to plug into the electrical at a camp or RV park you need an electrical cert, which is similar.


A newer LHD rig can only be imported for a year or maybe 18 months using a carnet. Any longer is generally not possible without conforming the vehicle to NZ road safety standards. Which for all intents and purposes is not possible.

Depending on where you are in NZ, it can rain, a lot. If you are planning on outings farther from home, I would strongly consider a high roof van. Being able to wait out a rainstorm in a place where you can stand is a great feature. If you are heading out closer to home, this less of an issue. If you plan on winter outdoor activities, you will not enjoy a RTT. Some parts of NZ have more reasonable winter weather, and it varies dramatically with elevation and latitude.

I would never expect to exceed 50km/hr average speed in NZ, except maybe a few of the motorways around Auckland.
My wife and I shipped our camper to NZ, and spend 8 months there living and traveling about. There is info on our travels, and shipping experiences on our blog. http://vagariesabound.blogspot.com/
Just revisiting your comments. Super helpful and thanks for the thorough answers. I think we're narrowing our destination to Nelson for the smaller town quality of life and active outdoor scene we appreciate. Thoughts?
 

AK Burwell

New member
Thanks so much for reaching out. So from what I've gathered it seems like a LHD small van/RV type of vehicle likely won't get approved for import. Is this accurate from what you see and understand? An ex-pat friend in Hawkes Bay says really the only LHD vehicles are muscle and collector cars.
A previous post from luthj in this thread he discusses using a carnet to import their van for 8 months. I'm going to do some homework on this possibility but if you have any insight into this as an option that would helpful as well.
 
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