Cheapa Campa New Zealand Review

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Editors Review

Cheapa Campa New Zealand is a budget campervan and motorhome rental company offering 2-6 berth motorhomes and cars for hire. They are part of the Apollo Motorhome Holidays group. 

About Cheapa Campa New Zealand

As a division of the international Apollo Motorhomes Ltd., who have been established since 1985, Cheapa Campa NZ is run by the same people (Apollo originated in Australia as a family business) and their vehicles are for all intents and purposes identical. The only difference here is that Cheapa-branded vehicles are a few years old, as opposed to Apollo-branded vehicles, which are new.

Cheapa Campa — as their name and slogan, ‘Freewheeling on any budget’, suggest — focus on providing vehicles for the money-saving market, although not at absolute rock-bottom prices (that’s the domain of Apollo’s youth brand Hippie). These vehicles are generally all between three and five years old, so taking that and Cheapa Campa’s pricing into account, don’t expect a hire to be particularly luxe or perfect and unmarked when it comes to the interior, but it won’t be too austere either. They frequently offer limited-time deals on almost all their vehicles at particular times of the year, often filling particular conditions, such as pickup and dropoff in certain locations, and they emphasize flexibility in their pricing and liability options.

Fleet

Cheapa Campa NZ vehicles are — as is the case with the other NZ branches of Apollo— made in New Zealand by Apollo’s manufacturer TALVOR Motorhomes. Cheapa Campa offers fewer options than Apollo itself, as not all vehicles are handed down, but those which are ‘tried and tested’, so to speak. Also, there are a few minor differences— Apollo provide complimentary bed linen, whereas you have to pay extra for it at Cheapa Campa, and the insurance terms vary. But on the whole, you’re going to be getting an Apollo vehicle that’s just a few years older, ranging from 3-5 years old.

All vehicles have hi-top roofs, allowing you to stand up in the back (which doesn’t sound like much, but is very welcome on long journeys!), and all come with cooking equipment, crockery and cutlery, and kitchen equipment (at least a fridge, gas stove, microwave, and sink) included as standard. What isn’t included free of charge is linen. That’s sleeping bags and/or doonas, bath and tea towels, pillows and pillowcases, and some have raised concerns about the sparseness of what’s provided at this cost, so plan on bringing extra if you think you’ll need it.

Vehicles

Cheapa Hitop

The 2/3-berth Cheapa Hi-Top is a standard model that you’ll see fairly often on the roads. Built off a Toyota Hiace, it sleeps a maximum of three (two adults, one child of up to 50kg in weight in the single bed above the cab) and seats three in the driver’s cab (although baby and booster seats are unable to be fitted). There’s not much here to differentiate Cheapa Campa’s Hi-Top from its competitors, aside from perhaps its air conditioning, kitchen facilities — no hot water, though — and its cost when considering its age. Cheapa Campa vehicles tend to be aged from 3 to 5 years old, while many competitors will be older at the same price. If these factors are important, then, by all means, the Hi-Top might be for you.

Cheapa 2 Berth

The Cheapa 2-Berth is a ‘step up’ from the Hi-Top, being built on a much larger base (a Ford Transit or a similar VW model). For a couple travelling New Zealand alone — children under the age of eight cannot travel in this vehicle since no child seats can be fitted — this is the best option among Cheapa Campa’s fleet. In terms of kitchen facilities, it has a larger fridge than the Hi-Top and a 3-burner stove. Its other attractions include an onboard shower and toilet, making it the most cost-effective fully self-contained vehicle in the fleet, and internal walkthrough access from the driver’s cab to the main cabin. For longer journeys, these factors (along with heating and air conditioning!) are a godsend — and you need the self-contained certification if you’re planning on doing any freedom camping, as opposed to hauling up for the night in caravan parks.

Cheapa 4 Berth

For family travel, you’ll want to look at the Cheapa 4-Berth at a minimum; it has two seats in the driver’s cab and two in the main cabin, allowing up to four adults to be seated, although there’s also the option of fitting up to two baby or booster seats. During the day, the layout allows for up to four people to be seated at the dining table— and the 4-Berth has the kitchen facilities to match, with a large fridge-freezer that’s practically a necessity if you’re feeding four on a motorhome holiday, a sink with hot and cold water, gas stove and microwave. At night, the dining table converts to a small double bed, while there’s a slightly larger double permanently installed above the driver’s cabin. The onboard toilet and shower also mean that it’s fully self-contained, while the TV/DVD player will come in handy for kids on long rides.

Cheapa 6 Berth

Coming in as the largest motorhome that Cheapa Campa offer, the 6-Berth Motorhome is the way to go if your group size exceeds four. All the bells and whistles you’d expect are provided — good kitchen facilities, onboard shower and toilet, three comfortable double beds (two converts from dining areas) and a couple of extras like a side awning and TV/DVD.

Cheapa Endeavour

For budget-conscious families, this 4 berth Endeavour is a very economical choice. An easy to handle camper built on either an automatic or manual transmission Toyota Hiace, this family-friendly camper allows you and your kids to have an awesome Kiwi getaway. Offering a quite unique layout, the entire rear is allocated for the kitchen with sink, gas stove, microwave, and fridge/ freezer. Though without an internal walk-through access, this unit comes with a side door entry for extra convenience. The living area alters into a sleeping room, with one double bed down and one double bed up. 

Insurance

The standard liability and bond is at $3, 500 to $5, 000 but can be reduced depending on the rented vehicle and liability reduction option availed. For Hi-top and 2-berth ST, you can either pay $22/ day to have an excess and bond of $ 1, 500 accordingly or $29/ day to have an excess of $0 and a bond of $250. For the 4-berth and 6-berth motorhomes, you also have two choices on hand: additional of $32/ day for $2, 500 bond and liability each or $39/ day for $250 bond and $0 liability. But do take note that the liability reduction options still do not include windscreen and tyre damage, so might as well exercise extreme caution at all times. 

Reputation

Given that they’re one of the largest private motorhome rental companies in the world, you’re more likely to see Apollo-branded vehicles on the road than any others — which should tell you something about the quality of their fleet and their service. However, the reputation of Cheapa Campa New Zealand isn't that appealing or let's say, quite shocking, considering the almost several negative reviews from previous renters. There were lots of issues, ranging from receiving a different vehicle to the one booked online to delays in returning the bond deposit. Amidst the not-so-attractive standing, Cheapa Campa continues to offer campervan and motorhome hire a great price. The company's initial price to lure you in may be far affordable than those fancy, local businesses, but the general accord of those who rented a Cheapa Campa unit before is far more important, right? Just like any other companies― rent with caution or it will cost you a fortune!

Summary

While Cheapa Campa isn’t the cheapest on the market, and there are definitely cheaper options out there if you shop around, what you get for what you pay is good. If the condition of the vehicle is important to you, then a motorhome of between three and five years old is pretty good — not old enough to be battered, but old enough to lower the prices, and enough that you’ll need to be realistic about mild interior wear and tear (not to mention some glitches along the way or even after the rental).

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Pros

  • Huge range
  • Backed by Apollo market strength
  • Competitive rates

Cons

  • 3 years + campervans
  • Reputation for keeping deposit too long
  • Mostly negative reviews

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