Family of 4 moving to New Zealand

#1
Hi ExPo Community!

Long time Overland Journal subscriber, adventurer and dad.

Looking for rig recommendations, logistics and ideas. Our family of 4 is going to move to New Zealand from the PNW for a year or two for work and play. Our kids will be 2.5 and 4.5 years old and we'll likely bring the family Australian Shepherd for emotional support lol. We're campers, hikers, mountain bikers and mix it up on our weekends as most out west - tow a small rental camper trailer, rent a cabin, explore backroads, trailheads, ski mountains and find secluded beaches. Ideally we'd be looking to be a 1 car family plus have a flexible configuration in NZ that could sleep 4, get us to work/groceries, get us up into the mountains and down to the beaches and maybe, just maybe give me something to join the local 4wd club outings with?! My current truck is a Ram Ecodiesel which ULSD isn't available in NZ so it either needs to be sold or stay home. Plus it's not a super desirable in international travel and/or reliable IMHO.

Rig configurations/logistics I've thought of:

1. Buy a rig here, modify it for adventure and ship it over. For reference I got a quote to ship a Land Cruiser there and back for $3k with possibly more room in a container for gear beyond what we pack the truck full of. Appealing because I get a project rig (I'll start a build thread for that direction), customized for our needs, can load it up with gear here that would be hard to find or expensive in NZ. IE: I'm a diehard mountain biker and would need to bring a few. Configs for buying here considering we want to sleep 4 could be an SUV w/ a RTT plus trailer either sleep in or another RTT or a van conversion set up or just set up the truck/suv here but plan to buy a local small tow behind caravan as homebase. Money isn't bottomless so if a build were to go forward we'd want to make sure it's something we can enjoy here and there or there and sell it there when we return.

2. Buy a used rig there and sell it when we leave. If it's old enough and we enjoy it possibly ship it back to import into the USA, right hand drive be damned lol. A crew cab 70 series has always been on the bucket list, a cool van build, cheap campervan but would still need a daily driver and other options I'm sure. Trouble here is could be spendy to buy as most rigs are more per the NZ used car online market I've seen, wouldn't have any of my tools to build out myself and would take time away from our working vacation to get our rig setup.

3. _____ Ideas.

I really appreciate any ideas or considerations anyone with a few kids has and also international overland travel especially NZ.

Best,

Ada
 
#2
I'd look into the diesel options, BP sell Ultimate Diesel, and as far as i'm aware they do sell low surfer diesel, as the new market is full of european diesel cars over there that require it.

I've spent quite a bit of time living there, the used vehicle market is full of japanese imports, so heaps of 4x4 mid sized van options and european caravans are quite reasonable.

you will love it over there, great country, awesome landscape and nice people
 
#4
From what I gather, any car/truck there is super expensive. You will probably want a right hand drive rig, and not a full-size American one. Plenty of skinny roads there and the max speed is about 62 mph (100 kph), so you won't need anything too big. Not sure what the options are for importing a RHD rig are, but it is worth checking out what is available there and from Asia. To be fair, they do take very good care of their vehicles and you will see rigs that disappeared from the states years ago still rolling around.
Lifted vehicles may need a sign-off to be road worthy, not sure if you need that from a licensed engineer, so you should probably stick to 2" or less and get specific info about what is allowed regarding lifts and oversize tires. Monteros and Nissan Patrols are still around along with Land Cruisers, Troopies, Defenders and Isuzu's-- all of which you can find someone to fix for you, Rams-- not so much.
While gas/diesel is much more expensive than here, the low speed limit helps keep the cost of driving down.
If you want to sleep 4, you may consider getting a rooftop tent here and shipping it, as most gear will be cheaper that way.
It is also worth looking into renting a camper-van for your longer outings, they have tons down there available for that in every shape and size. If it is certified "self contained" (built to hold water + blackwater for 3 days and a stove) you can camp in many different places. That might give you more flexibility with your daily driver.
It is almost one of the last places on Earth, so don't expect that all the comforts or habits of modern life have made it down there, although you might find it better for that fact.
 
#5
4x4 mid sized van options
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.
 
#6
Gas prices are really high, and roads reallllly tight at times, but its a riot to drive down there, 100kmh open mountain roads with no gaurd rails, i loved it! and plan to move there in a few years when ours kid is a bit older.

We rented a toyota (previa??i think) van turned camper down there, the middle seat flips and becomes part of the bed, under bed fridge and storage, it worked awesome! might be tight for 4 to sleep in though, but for every day use it was really good. and you can get used stuff for good prices. keep in mimd they have a yearly or bi-yearly inspection report on cars so most are in good shape.

have you been there before?

https://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars can get you an idea of used stuff for sale from private sellers
 
#7
Gas prices are really high, and roads reallllly tight at times, but its a riot to drive down there, 100kmh open mountain roads with no gaurd rails, i loved it! and plan to move there in a few years when ours kid is a bit older.

We rented a toyota (previa??i think) van turned camper down there, the middle seat flips and becomes part of the bed, under bed fridge and storage, it worked awesome! might be tight for 4 to sleep in though, but for every day use it was really good. and you can get used stuff for good prices. keep in mimd they have a yearly or bi-yearly inspection report on cars so most are in good shape.

have you been there before?

https://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars can get you an idea of used stuff for sale from private sellers
Nope, we haven't been there. Several friends have done a similar "gap year" and we have traveled on most continents. Good advice on gas prices, I've heard this as well. A buddy drives a hybrid now and sold his built CC Tacoma stateside. Camper van conversion is a good idea to get the basecamp but play on the weekends.
 
#8
hit up farmers markets, and road side stands for fruit and veg, awesome prices and the best produce ive ever eaten, it takes twice as long to get somewhere as you think because no road is straight and ya can't always do 100, and anything over 105 and you will get a ticket. and sweet potatoes are called Kumara lol.
 
#9
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/
 
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Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
#10
Gas prices are really high, and roads reallllly tight at times, but its a riot to drive down there, 100kmh open mountain roads with no gaurd rails, i loved it! and plan to move there in a few years when ours kid is a bit older.

We rented a toyota (previa??i think) van turned camper down there, the middle seat flips and becomes part of the bed, under bed fridge and storage, it worked awesome! might be tight for 4 to sleep in though, but for every day use it was really good. and you can get used stuff for good prices. keep in mimd they have a yearly or bi-yearly inspection report on cars so most are in good shape.

have you been there before?

https://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars can get you an idea of used stuff for sale from private sellers
I'm assuming you are Canadian. Can you folks emigrate there without so much red tape along with a skill or occupation?
Unlike here NZ is a merit based country that controls it's immigration.
Our friend's lived there for decades. She ships back Levi's and an assortment of cheaper goods when visiting.
 

Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
#11
I'm assuming you are Canadian. Can you folks emigrate there without so much red tape along with a skill or occupation?
Unlike here NZ is a merit based country that controls it's immigration.
Our friend's lived there for decades. She ships back Levi's and an assortment of cheaper goods when visiting.
Rules,taxes and regulations makes it more expensive than California to live and that's saying a lot.
Beautiful country.
 
#12
I'm Canadian yes, we are still just looking into it, wouldnt be for years, but I think we still need the same Merits, and if your occupation is on the short list ( or long term needed list) that realllly helps get you in the door. We have family down there, but not close enough as relatives to get us in lol. Ive got a trade ticket, and my wife as a Bachelor of Social work degree, so those should help. its best if you can get a job offer first too. that really helps if you plan to move there for work. i know if they let us we could stay up to 6 months as visitors, but not work.
 
#13
I'm Canadian yes, we are still just looking into it, wouldnt be for years, but I think we still need the same Merits, and if your occupation is on the short list ( or long term needed list) that realllly helps get you in the door. We have family down there, but not close enough as relatives to get us in lol. Ive got a trade ticket, and my wife as a Bachelor of Social work degree, so those should help. its best if you can get a job offer first too. that really helps if you plan to move there for work. i know if they let us we could stay up to 6 months as visitors, but not work.
My wife is a doc so we'll be going with a job for her set up at least and me working remote for the most part. Visa's are pretty easy to come by in healthcare.
 
#15
Yea, im pretty sure Docs are on the short list. Let me know how it goes, i'll be following this post, i know your from the US but most of the immigration stuff will be pretty similar im sure.
 
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