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How to buy and sell a car, campervan or motorhome in New Zealand

Interesting fact.


New Zealand has the second highest rate of car ownership per head of population in the world.

New Zealand is a very easy country to buy or sell a vehicle. The vehicle prices are reasonably cheap by worldwide standards.

The reason New Zealand has a good used vehicle market is the abundance of "Japanese imports" these are vehicles that are brought by New Zealand car dealers. Car dealers purchase them in Japan second hand and ship them to New Zealand. The other sorts of vehicles are "New Zealand assembled" and imports from other countries. The New Zealand assembled vehicle often has a higher cost.

There are three main ways for people to buy and sell cars and other vehicles in New Zealand, licensed motor vehicle dealer, newspaper and auction. The Internet and car fairs are also used.

Change of Ownership

This is done with two forms, filled out by the buyer and seller, the buyer pays for this and it costs around $10nzd. The buyer takes one form into the post office, and the seller sends in the other form. The new owner is then sent out the new Certificate of Registration. The form is not an ownership paper but does show that the new buyer is the registered owner.

WOF and Registration

All vehicles on New Zealand roads must have a current Warrant of Fitness (WOF) and Registration or the police will fine you if you drive a vehicle with either of these things expired. The WOF is a 15-minute check that is carried out every 6 months on older vehicles and 12 months on newer vehicles. This check is to make sure the vehicle is safe and road worthy. It will cost you around $25-$55nzd depending on the checking facility. Many garages offer this service as well as purpose built testing facilities, with a total of around 3,500 WOF agents throughout New Zealand.

If you have a current WOF you may then go to your nearest post office and purchase between 3 and 12 months of registration. This will cost around $230nzd for 1 year.


Insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand, but most people do have insurance. If you have insurance this covers damage you do, or someone else does to you. Any injuries are covered by ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) this is an area of the Government that pays for your injuries and loss of income because of any accident.

Insurance is not that expensive compared to somewhere like the UK. Here is an estimate; full insurance for a 29 year old, driving a $6000 standard car, with a good driving record, would be around $350nzd.

Money owed by previous owner

You will need to ensure that there is no money owing on the vehicle, otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where the car is repossessed to repay the previous owners debts. For $3 you can check the vehicle with the Personal Property Securities Register (tel 0900 90977; website You will need to provide details of the car's registration, VIN and chassis number.

Licensed Motor Vehicle Dealer

These are exactly what their title tells you they are licensed to trade in motor vehicles. They offer you the most protection when buying a vehicle. They provide warranties and must represent the vehicle accurately and in a saleable condition. For the most protection you will pay a "retail" price, which in most cases will be more that you would pay on the "wholesale" auction market.


This option is open to anybody in any region to advertise their vehicle for whatever price they want with an as is where is general rule. Once you have brought your car or other vehicle off any individual in the paper and something is not right the problem is now yours. There are regional papers and the most popular are the trade and exchange type newspapers in each region. These are free for private sellers to advertise in with the cost of the paper to buy is just under $3.00nzd.


This option is very popular with this being the "wholesale" market price of a vehicle you can pick up cheap vehicle if buying and achieve surprising results if selling depending on the time and place. The most well respected and professional nationwide auction company is Turners, and a visit to them may be worth the time. They have many auctions a week.

Auctions are the same as the newspaper and all vehicles are sold on an as is where is basis, you have to check for current WOF and registration and it is up to you to sort out new ones if they are expired. Turners have expanded their business over the years to be more users friendly and now offer warranties, finance and pre-purchase vehicle appraisals. The auction will charge a commission for selling and take a fee for buying.


The Internet can be treated the same way as a newspaper advertisement. All vehicles are treated on an as is where is basis. Three good websites companies are Trade Me and Traderpoint or if you are looking for a campervan or motorhome

Car fair

These are set up in major New Zealand centres and are treated the same as a private newspaper sale with regards to protection to the buyer. With so many things to do in New Zealand you sometimes can spend a lot of time hanging around at car fairs so this would be a good place to buy with other tourists needing to move on. Remember your holiday time in New Zealand is valuable.


Reviews / Comments for How to buy and sell a vehicle in NZ

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I know that Turners Car Auctions have a price check tool that lets you look up the market value of any car. Pretty handy to make sure you're not getting ripped off. You can access it here: Car Price Check

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Just thought i would add:
When getting a Warrant of Fitness, if your vehicle is 7 years or younger, the "W.O.F" is carried out annually.
Also, in New Zealand, some vehicles require a Certificate of Fitness (C.O.F), not a WOF, if they belong in any of the following categories:
1) heavy vehicles such as trucks, tractors, buses, large motorhomes and large trailers
2) all passenger service vehicles, such as taxis, shuttles and buses and
3) any rental vehicle
In this instance, any such vehicle requires a COF, instead of a WOF.
There are also a couple of other things such vehicles need, found on this website
Well that was my 2 cents :) lol
Hope it helps someone!

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We brought a 1990 Toyota Corolla that had done 400,000kms for $500 at the auctions. It went really well.
I just have to put a good mention in for our "blue rocket" because it did so well.
Thanks again "Blue Rocket" and enjoy your new owners.

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