Thinking about renting from Wicked Campers for your upcoming New Zealand campervan roadtrip? Here's an in depth look at what to expect from your rental, as well as our review of the experience.
*Update May 14 2016
It has now been over a month since we dropped off our Wicked Camper at the depot in Auckland and our deposit still hasn't been returned. When you rent a Wicked Camper without opting for insurance, you have to pay a $3,000.00 deposit along with a $100 deposit fee. While we were far from thrilled with handing this amount over, I understand that a company needs to limit its risk when they aren't assured the renter is carrying insurance. I would do the same thing in their position.
That being said, Wicked Camper has had over a month to evaluate the damage that someone did to our vehicle and return the remaining deposit. The damage itself is minimal- a broken taillight and a dent in the rear from someone backing into our van in a parking lot. After two online chat sessions and a phone call to Wicked NZ, our deposit has still not be returned and all customer service will tell us is that they "are working on it."
At this point, I just want Wicked to evaluate the damage, let me know what the dollar amount is, and return my remaining deposit. Then I can go ahead and move forward with a claim with the awesome team at World Nomads.
The Van Itself
If the vehicle itself isn't in good shape for rental, it really doesn't matter what the rest of it looks like. Luckily, we ended up with a very reliable, late model Toyota that seemed to be cared for with love and attention.
We've seen a few news items about Wicked Campers not being in good mechanical shape, but this one certainly was. The campervan was rust and dent free inside and out and only had about 130,000 km on the engine. The tire treads were in great shape. After pulling away from the rental center, I tested the tire pressure (dead on) and even checked the air filter for the engine. It was spotless.
We may have gone above and beyond on inspecting our rental vehicle, but since we booked our rental for over 40 days and were going to some pretty remote areas, we wanted to be sure we weren't driving a breakdown ready to happen.
The built in kitchen consists of a sink, two bins on racks, a butane stove and a decent sized cooler. Wicked Camper throws in some pots, plates, bowls and silverware as well.
We actually never used the sink the entire time. It seemed to be way more work than it was worth. Way easier to just wash dishes in campground sinks or nearby rivers.
The chairs and the table are not included in the rental and cost a flat fee of $15 to have for the duration of your rental. Very much worth it. Don't forget and leave them behind at any campsites. (If you do happen to leave them behind, you can pick up a new table from KMart for $25 and new chairs for $10. Not that I know from personal experience...).
Could the kitchen setup have been better? Yes. Was it livable for camping? Absolutely.
To make a bed every night, we spread out three large pads (included in cost) across the built in storage area. The first two would lay completely flat and the third one would slightly overlap onto the seats. Not the most comfortable thing in the world but every night when we crawled in the van for sleepy time, we were glad to not be outside sleeping in a tent. It rains A LOT in New Zealand.
Allison and I are both over 6ft tall and fit in the back of the van comfortably. You wouldn't want to necessarily share that area with someone larger than 6ft or 200 pounds unless you're very much in love.
If you do rent from Wicked Campers, Wicked has a free bedding give away area (when available) at their pickup depots. You can grab to sheets, blankets, and pillows that people have left behind in their returned van. You can find a ton of great items and then just head to the nearest laundromat and hit that stuff with a hot wash. Then wash again.
If you had to buy all the blankets and pillows we needed for our trip you're easily looking at $100+ dollars. You don't want to skimp on blankets either. It will get freezing cold when you least expect it.
Under Bed Storage Area
Our Wicked Camper had storage on storage on storage. The back storage area was a bit of a pain to access so we put things here that we almost never need. Extra clothing, laundry powder, emergency jug of water, jumper cables….all this stuff was stored so that it wasn't ever in the way.
The front storage area was great for clothing that you need everyday as your backpacks will fit perfect here. They almost became pull out drawers on each side of the van. (Another reason for NOT having a top-loader backpack. See what we use here)
The very front area is where we kept all our food (and hid our electronics when we parked). You will have more than enough space to store all the food for 2 (or even 3) people up here so that its easy to access.
Beneath all the storage area there is a great spot to stash shoes, walking sticks, and treasure. Nothing amazing here, but when you have some muddy shoes to put away, you'll be happy you have the Under Nunder area.
Seldom used but invaluable when we needed it, the vans have a built in table. When you do set up the table, things are of course tight, especially if you're taller, but when you hit those rainy days in NZ you'll be glad you have this option. Two of us could sit comfortably and use our computers at the table while it poured outside and it made a nice switch up from having to lay in bed when the weather was bad.
This will vary greatly by which model of van you get. Our van had a ton of nice stash spots for our gadgets, snacks, and treasures. Inevitably, you're going to end up with a van that has some nice covert spots to hide your most valuable possessions such as hard drives, wallets, etc.
All in all, we were really happy with our campervan from Wicked Campers. They were definitely our least expensive option and when we booked it for over 30 days they gave us a break on the daily price.
We were happy with the artwork on the side. We requested a “tame” camper as you can end up with some pretty wicked slogans or graphics. Renters always reserve the option of taping over anything they deem inappropriate (we frequently saw on the road in NZ), but its easier to just request a tame camper ahead of time. Nothing will ruin a good time faster than a disapproving head shake from a local when your visiting New Zealand (we saw a few but had nothing negative or offensive on our Gonzo van.
There are far nicer campervans and RV's out there for hire but at a heavily inflated price. If you're looking for the best bang for your buck and can skip out on a few luxuries, Wicked is great company to work with. We compared pricing at 5 other campervan rental companies and Wicked Camper was cheaper than all of them-by far. I was worried it would come at the price of getting a rough looking vehicle, but our Toyota Voxy was rock solid.
*Someone did hit our vehicle while it was parked in a DOC parking lot, so we'll be back to update on how that shakes out with fees' from Wicked and how insurance handles everything.
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