"Take a gamble, you might win, but the house normally wins"
Quick review of our experience with freedom/tui/budget campers in Auckland,...
Last Updated: 9/25/19
Freedom Campers is a rental company offering 2-4 berth campervans and motorhomes on a budget. They are a child company of Tui Brands that offer mid-range campervans and motorhomes.
With depots in Auckland and Christchurch, Freedom has been in business since 1983 under Tui Brands who also has holdings with Tui Sleepervans, Budget Campers, and Tui Campers. If you are concerned about where your money goes when you choose Freedom Campers, your money will be going to a 2nd tier company of Tui, which is a family-owned business still retained by the original owners. Yes, your money will be going to a huge company, but they are still New Zealand based and put their money right back into their community. Since most parts of NZ allow freedom camping, best that you know the rules before hitting the road. Check out this freedom camping tool for convenience.
The fleet is a diverse and extensive amount of older vehicles that seem to be second string to the second string. They offer a great deal of room for the price but seem to have problems with the equipment more often than sister company, Budget Campers. At present, their rental range is consist of seven different units, ranging from 2007 to 2010 age models. Each unit is equipped with essentials like kitchen, beds, storage, and such. Extras include baby/ booster seat, GPS, picnic table and Chairs, and snow chain.
The Path Finder 2+1 is technically a 3 berth campervan based on a 2007 Volkswagen T5. This automatic unit comes with 3 seats in the front cab and two beds at the back (rear dinette and top bunk). Even if there's no shower/ toilet, this one provides a porta potti for convenience. Also, the kitchen has almost everything you need, from the sink to the 2-burner gas stove.
These are 2008-2010 Toyota Hiace models that are designed for 2 adults and 1 child. With the pop-top roof, the interior of this unit is pretty much spacious. The large windows make it easy to see the panoramic views outside. This one is an upgraded and more sophisticated version of the previous campervan. Unfortunately, there's no shower/ toilet inside.
The 4+1 Path Finder is quite the same as the Path Finder 2/ 3, except that it can accommodate up to 5 people (4 adults and 1 child). The two rear forward-facing seats can be equipped with lap/diagonal seat belts or child seat. Since this is also a hi-top model, the extra vertical space provides a roomier feeling as well as a loft bed on top of the double bed below.
For couples who want to explore the roads in style and comfort, here's the Path Seeker. In comparison to the previous campervans, this motorhome now comes with a shower and a cassette flush toilet. The double bed easily converts from the spacious rear lounge. Plus, this manual motorhome is such a breeze to drive!
Path Blazer is for families who want to try luxury living while on the road. Furnished with a big living and dining area, this motorhome is perfect for a treat for touring families up to 4. The sleeping arrangement inside this 2008-2009 Ford Transit comes from the convertible rear space and permanent cabover area.
Travelling with the entire fam? This automatic 6 berth motorhome based on a 2008-2009 Mercedes Sprinter is the answer. Geared with amazing features like walk-through access, shower/ toilet, and rear kitchen, it's not hard to fall in love with this well-equipped unit. There are three double beds inside―dinette bed, rear lounge bed, and cabover bed.
If you prefer a manual unit, there's also an option waiting for you. Path Explorer Manual, which is a 6 berth motorhome, features almost the same facilities with the Path Explorer Automatic, except for some interior layout. Instead of a Mercedes Sprinter, this one is built on a Ford Transit, with a much spacious kitchen. Further compared to the other motorhome, the entire rear space for this unit is allocated for the convertible lounge.
The insurance excess depends on your age and rented unit. For motorhomes with shower/ toilet, the excess is NZ$4500 ($5500 for drivers under 25). On the other hand, HiAce campervans come with NZ$4000. You are given the chance to reduce the excess by availing one of their reduction options below:
Reduction Option 1: Only a credit card imprint is required
Path Seeker, Path Blazer, and Path Explorer: NZ$30 per day (NZ$33/day for drivers under 25) reduces the excess to NZ$2,000. Path Finder’s 2+1, 2/3, and 4+1: NZ$20/day (NZ$25 per day for drivers under 25) reduces the excess to NZ$1,500.
Reduction Option 2: Only a credit card imprint is required
Path Seeker, Path Blazer, and Path Explorer: NZ$50/ day (NZ$55 per day for drivers under 25) reduces the excess to NZ$0. Path Finder’s 2+1, 2/3, and 4+1: NZ$40/ day (NZ$45 per day for drivers under 25) reduces the excess to NZ$0.
The company has a less than stellar reputation regarding its vehicles. While they promise a reliable ride, many people state they fail to deliver this more than other companies of their level. More often than others in their price range, their equipment is among some of the lowest-rated by renters. However, their service is friendly and perfectly acceptable for the amount you’re paying for your trip. Essentially, Freedom Campers is meant to be a bare-bones camping experience, but they will take care of you if anything goes wrong. Essentially, the equipment you will get is hit-or-miss, so make sure that they run down every piece of equipment with you before departure (they are actually very good about doing this for the most part). For the most part, people are typically pleased with the service more so than the rental itself.
This company should likely be avoided unless your budget is super tight. Just go in with very low expectations and the desire to travel super cheaply, expecting that the equipment is not up to par. It is not recommended if your holiday is an extended one. You will get good service from the company, however, and for some, the service is more important than the equipment. For the most part, go for the upgraded models to avoid potential problems with your trip. They seem to be better choices overall.
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Quick review of our experience with freedom/tui/budget campers in Auckland, it's worth thinking about it before booking.
The short version is you might end up with a working van, or you might not. If you think putting the holiday budget on black and seeing how it goes then they are the van for you. If spending a week in a clunky hothouse with broken aircon on wheels, reliant on filling up an esky/chilly bin/cheap bucket every few hours with ice to keep your food cold as the fridge doesn't work isn't for you then probably look else where. They didn't think it was too much of an issue to be in a glass room with virtually no ventilation during a heat wave and very begrudgingly gave use 1.5 days refund rather than the two we asked for to take it to a comparable model and the costs due to ruined food, ice and eating out costs. Any issues are your problem if they can't fix them due to short working hours and not offering a 7-day service, yep being asked to stay around in Auckland for another 3 days to have it fixed wasn't an option..... so in summary, if you like to take a gamble hire from here, you might get lucky, but if you aren't a gambler go elsewhere.