Ara Rentals Review

Customer rated 3.4 / 5 from 2 reviews

Editors Review

Ara Rentals is a budget campervan rental service offering 2-3 berth campervans. They pride themselves in offering a very low-cost alternative to motorhomes and other campervans in New Zealand. They are a small family business, where you can expect friendly, efficient customer service.


Based in Christchurch, Ara Rentals has been a family-owned and operated company since 1995. The fleet is relatively large, and they have always been a budget oriented company.


Ara has a solid reputation for offering reliable transportation on the cheap. They are upfront about all charges, insurance, and what’s covered on the minimum mandatory legal insurance, and how much the driver will be responsible for in the case of repairs being required (the first NZ $1,200).

People have very few complaints about how Ara handles their customers, no matter what the issue. From pickup to drop off, and any problems in between, Ara truly appears to handle their customers with care and simplicity. No mucking about to figure out what’s covered and what isn’t, and no hidden costs or surprises. Just a straightforward, no frills company for a straightforward, no-frills target market.

If you do run into some damage, the reputation for handling such matters is not what you’d expect from a “small” family business. Perhaps it’s because they are so upfront about what they will and will not cover, and are forthright about what you’re expected to pay in the event of a mishap. They have a reputation for basics — simplicity — and that’s exactly what you get.


The fleet consists of 2+3 berth campervans that are economical and simple to drive. The campervans are available in two models — the ARA2 and the ARA3 — and are branded by Toyota, Nissan, and similar manufacturers. Depots are located at Auckland and Christchurch, and rentals can be arranged for a number of locations — including Picton, Queenstown, and Greymouth — for an additional relocation fee.

Because the focus is on economy, the fleet is a bit long in the tooth. The ARA2 models are 1995-1997 models, and the ARA3 are 1999-2000 models. This age, however, does not mean they are beaters. They are well-maintained and frequently serviced to assure a reliable rental (this, plus roadside assistance, is rather reassuring).

The fleet is rented out at rates from NZ $45 – NZ $105 per day, and quotes are all inclusive with any extras you choose.


For all of the no-frills touting and the economical angle at which Ara markets their fleet, they actually do provide quite a bit of extras that are included in the rental price. Some of the inclusive extras are very handy to have, too — such as 24-hour roadside assistance, area maps and brochures, deck chairs, pots and pans, sheets, towels, pillows, sleeping bags and duvet (doona), bowls, and buckets.

There are a few optional add ons that cost NZ $25 per item, but are harder to get with other economy rentals, such as ski chains, DVD players, and chemical toilets. Other optional features include baby seats, cell phones, camping kits, and tents.


This company is a small, family owned and operated business that provides very basic campervans at a good price. They are extremely budget friendly and market to the low-budget, money conscious crowd. Luckily, they do provide quite a bit of extras with their service, which makes up for the bare necessities feel of the rental. Ultimately, you will get just a little bit more than what you pay for with the majority of the fleet, and, should you encounter any problems, you will receive the assistance you need from this family oriented company.

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mrmagnan - avatar not loaded
, Canada
1 Review

"Don't rent from ARA"

  • Reviewed 8 months ago

Here is my explanation why ARA Rentals deserves 2/10 and you should not ever rent a vehicle from them:

1. Before I arrived in NZ, the owner did not respond to my email where I requested a copy of the terms of the "mandatory" insurance policy. The insurance policy was expensive, and did not provide as much coverage as a third party insurer would have covered for less money. Had he provided it, I would have insured myself from another insurance company.

2. On my first night, I discovered the van had leaks in the rain. One of them was through the back doors, and water fell directly on the bed.

3. On the third night, I had mice in my van. This occurred anytime I was camped near a beech forest, which was almost every night. I had many sleepless nights where I constantly had to remove mice from the van.

4. The windows did not open properly. Windows are important when you live in a van and cook food inside.

5. The van constantly had "warning" lights turning on and off. The owner told me when I rented the van to ignore them. What he didn't tell me, is that when a warning light is on, the van will not perform well at simple tasks, like going up hills.

6. The owner told me to drop off the van at the wrong location. As a result of his mistake, he almost made me miss my flight home, as the other location was over 30 minutes drive from the location he instructed me.

7. I caused some minor damage to the van. The owner told me it would cost approximately $300 when I dropped it off. He charged me over $600. He did not provide any receipts proving the repairs were made, but he did provide phoney quotations of repair estimates. I challenged this with my credit card company, and the owner refused to provide any additional information to them.

In short - New Zealand is awesome. Camping in New Zealand is really awesome. ARA Rentals is terrible. Spend your money elsewhere, and enjoy your time in New Zealand.

1Service 3Mechanical 2Interior 1Value
. George - avatar not loaded
, Afghanistan
1 Review

"Small company fantastic service"

  • Reviewed 1 year ago

Although this is a small family owned business the service and campervan was outstanding. From being picked up at the airport to the friendly tips on making the most of our stay was first class. Forget the big rental companies book direct with ara and you will not be dissapointed

5Service 5Mechanical 5Interior 5Value