Car hire in Christchurch New Zealand
Learn which car hire opportunities are available at Christchurch airport and read about my experience renting from a couple of well-known companies.
There are several car hire companies in Christchurch (New Zealand) varying in size, quality of service, and whether they’re located at Christchurch airport or not.
If a car hire company is not located at the airport, you’ll most likely have to phone them when you arrive or make arrangements in advance, so that they can bring the car over to the airport or send a shuttle to pick you up, or so that you can pick up the car.
Some car rental companies may offer to bring the car over to the hotel where you’re staying or to the airport. Just enquire before you make a reservation.
Note that you do not always have to make a reservation in advance to be able to rent a car. However, because Christchurch is kind of like a “hub”, it is advisable to pre-book a car and not try renting a car on the spot, especially if you are visiting from overseas.
Also note that renting a car at any airport generally costs more money due to airport surcharges. So if you will be staying in Christchurch city centre on your first day on the South Island, consider picking up a car from one of the car rental branches in the city and not at the airport; it might save you a couple of dollars.
Car hire at the International terminal at Christchurch airport
The following car hire companies are located in the International Arrivals Hall of Christchurch airport:
- Avis New Zealand
- Budget New Zealand
- A2B Car Rentals
- Ezi-Rent Car Hire
Just a tiny note: I’ve never heard of the last two car rental companies…
Hire a car from Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty, or … ?
Up until today, I’ve rented cars from 3 car rental companies in Christchurch New Zealand:
- Budget Car Rental
- Avis Car Rental
- National Car Rental (not in New Zealand anymore)
My experience with each one of them has been different. Let’s take a look at how they differed.
Photo: A Holden Viva from Budget near Ben Ohau Range
Budget was the first car rental company I rented a car from in New Zealand. I’ve never been disappointed by the service Budget has given me.
A good example of this is when I first came to New Zealand for a visit, had booked a car through the Budget web site, had changed my reservation, and those changes had never been recorded in the system.
I had changed the pick-up location from Auckland airport to Auckland city center. When I arrived at the Budget office in the city center at 8 a.m. in the morning, the staff there was surprised to hear that I had made a reservation, and that they did not know about it. However, they did not make a big deal about it. On the contrary, they told me to wait 15 minutes while they prepared a car for me, and after those 15 minutes I got a brand new Mitsubishi I could take with me.
Another thing I like about Budget is that whenever I make a reservation on their web site, the quote that I’m given has always been close or exactly what I’ve had to pay at the end of my car hire period.
This is unlike a bad experience I’ve had in the past with renting from Alamo in Toronto Canada where many costs were hidden and which they charged me at the counter when I picked up the car. The lesson I learned from that was: “Cheap does not always mean good, and you need to be careful who you rent from.”
Onto Avis now. Avis does not differ much from Budget here in New Zealand. Actually, they’re run by the same company. So the same service you get from Budget, you’ll most likely get from Avis.
One of the differences between Avis New Zealand and Budget New Zealand is that Avis gives you more opportunities to accrue points with your favorite airline through a frequent flyer or loyalty program. The options with Budget are more limited in this regard.
Photo: A Toyota Rav 4 from Avis on Hakatere-Potts Road
When I rented with Budget or Avis, they did not charge my credit card until after I returned the car.
And here’s a tip: If you’ve accepted car insurance and you get a flat tire and get the tire repaired, keep your receipts, because they might refund the reparation costs; enquire when you return the car.
Renting with National Car Rental here in New Zealand reminded me of renting with Alamo back in the U.S. and Canada. As soon as they give you the car keys, they take the money off your credit card. At least they did when I rented a car from them back in 2004. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I rented a car from National.
While I’ve not rented with Thrifty here in New Zealand, I’ve often rented cars from them in Canada, and they’ve never disappointed me or charged my credit card up front. Unfortunately, I have not rented with them yet over here in New Zealand, so cannot comment on their service.
Nonetheless, I might book with Thrifty someday soon if nothing else to report back to you on their service. Besides, last time I was on the South Island for autumn colours their counter at Christchurch airport was so busy, I started wondering about what they were selling…
Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details
directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.