How To Buy A Car In New Zealand


Moving crateWe moved out of our Portland apartment in July. Getting ready for the move meant selling/giving away/donating anything that didn’t fit in our suitcases and one pallet sized shipping crate… AKA goodbye to all of our furniture, two cars, and many, many kitchen gadgets.

Unless you are lucky enough to have a job relocation package, a big move overseas usually means leaving a lot behind and starting over from scratch.

Pro Tip: Leave plenty of time to sell your stuff. It took us a couple months, and even then we gave a few couches to friends at the last minute.

Buying a car was at the top of our to-do list. Since I have no intention of driving on the wrong side of the road for at least a couple of months, Pete was in charge of finding us the perfect adventure car.

Where To Start

Our Beautiful AventureMobile!

Trade Me is like a cross between eBay and craigslist. [Full disclosure: Pete’s new job is with Trade Me] They have 4 sections on their website: Marketplace, Jobs, Motors, and Property.

There were many different cars to look at, with a mix of private sellers dealerships. Pete checked out a handful of cars in person before settling on our beautiful 2004 Subaru Outback.

Cars In New Zealand Are Old

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, 2004, that car is no spring chicken!” let me be the first to tell you that this is considered a pretty new car. New Zealand is geographically isolated from the rest of the world which means cars are imported and expensive. Kiwis are used to driving older cars.

StockSnap_P3O9PI8LVWNew Zealand requires cars to receive a warrant of fitness. Newer cars must get checked annually, any car older than 2000 needs a new WoF every 6 months (read more about what they are checking for here). Buying from a dealership meant that this cost was included in the sticker price but don’t forget to factor in this cost if buying from a private seller.

It’s reassuring to know every car on the road is safe and makes me seriously question why this is not a thing in the States. Just saying.

Vehicle Licensing (Rego)

In New Zealand you pay a fee to use your vehicle on public roads. The fee helps to pay for roading projects and road safety programs.

Vehicle licensing is sometimes referred to as ‘rego’, but should not be confused with registration, which is the process where your car’s details are added to the Motor Vehicle Register and you are issued number plates.

 Gas Is Crazy Expensive


Fuel is sold in New Zealand by the liter. Something that may stop you from getting that souped-up turbo engine is the insane cost of gas aka petrol. For context, the average cost of one gallon of gas in the US is currently $2.79. The same amount of gas costs about $7.56 in New Zealand. Plan your road trips accordingly.

 Cheers To New Adventures

I can’t wait to hit the road and explore New Zealand with Pete in our new adventure car. I’m sure one day I’ll get around to try driving on the left, but until then I’ll happily hang in the passenger seat working on translating the main console. It’s in Japanese.

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