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From Swiss Army Knife of Campers to iconic NZ brand

The short version is, we asked travellers -  like you, what they wanted in a vehicle to explore New Zealand. We took this feedback and went out and found the most suitable vehicle to fill the niche between a rental car and a campervan rental. We then added the customised features to make it the ultimate vehicle - Like a good car to drive with more useful features than a campervan - The Swiss army knife of campers.

Spaceships Rentals: an iconic New Zealand brand

Spaceships are custom designed, award-winning and Qualmark endorsed with enviro silver for sustainable business practices. We play an active part in the Responsible Camping Forum of New Zealand and strongly believe in educating travellers about just how many great facilities and camping opportunities there are around New Zealand.

We are a New Zealand owned and operated business with a long history in the Tourism Industry. We pride ourselves on offering a good vehicle to drive with innovative features, exceptional service and a unique, social on-road community.

We are passionate about the environment and where possible work with other Qualmark-endorsed quality operators to ensure consistency for our travellers whilst on the road. We have a large-scale planting and community project in Akaroa where we have installed walking tracks for the public and planted tens of thousands of native plants.

Developing the (new) New Zealand Campervan

To put it simply, most travellers want a reliable vehicle that is easy to drive but still has the minimum features of a comfortable bed, a dual burner portable cooker, water supply, good storage space, a fridge and a decent sound system with Bluetooth and at the best possible price.

From the current yet basic offering in New Zealand

New Zealand campervan rentals are either really basic; offering little more than a mattress on the floor, are high-top or other big ungainly vehicles which are both poor to drive and have features that you don’t use; such as microwaves, which means you need to be staying in a camping ground and plugged into 240-volt mains power to use.

This means you either pay too much for your vehicle plus the fuel and campground costs or you get a very basic vehicle that is not designed to drive comfortably on the open roads.

To innovation that turned into the Spaceships Universe

We looked at van options but most second-hand ones are often in poor condition; and they are all bad to drive as they are designed to be commercial vehicles (with heavy springs, gearboxes and steering etc) and spend their lives driving around cities delivering mail. We then came up with ‘People Movers’ which while prohibitively expensive new, can be purchased at reasonable prices from Japan when only a few years old.

They are ex-family vehicles, which makes it easy to get them in very good condition second-hand. They are always good to drive and have useful extras such as air conditioning, electric windows and automatic gearboxes. We have chosen Toyota Estimas for their reliability, fuel economy and size (as big as many vans). In fact, because of our extendable bed and awning, you actually get more than one square metre of extra usable floor space than a Toyota Hiace van.

Designed, created and maintained in-house

We build the interiors in our own factory to our own design, to ensure the optimal use of space and durability. We are particularly proud of the way the cooker works and the amount of storage that we fit underneath the bed. Other companies have now copied the vehicle type but do not have the unique ‘customised’ design features that make a Spaceship the Swiss army knife of Campers.

We check & clean your campervan thoroughly before it goes out onto the road! Our fleet of clean and safe vehicles are all well-maintained and serviced every 15,000km by our in-house team of mechanics.

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Designed, built and well-maintained in-house by the Spaceships Crew

Adding the Spaceships Service

There is currently no New Zealand campervan rental or motorhome rental operator in New Zealand who does much more than hire you a vehicle (sometimes with maps) and then say goodbye (if you are lucky). We found this amazing as we know from our years of developing backpacker bus networks and finding interesting places on and off the beaten track, that with a little bit of guidance and support you can get so much more of your adventure in our country. The great thing is that we are uniquely able to give such a service with our experience and contacts around New Zealand.

This is how and why we have developed the key features of the suggested itineraries here on the website; a guidebook; up-to-date discounts and deals on activities;  information on campgrounds and looking after the environment.

We are sure that you will find these features as important as the vehicle themselves – it is amazing that no one else provides them. In 2006 we won the NZ tourism award for Innovation being credited with creating a new category of rental vehicle - in between a car and a campervan and providing unique after-hire service and guidance. 

So there you have it – a vehicle which is great to drive, with everything you want, which can be rented out at the best possible price.

An ever-expanding Spaceships Universe

In 2008 we launched Spaceships in Australia and we now have 6 depots.  In 2009 we launched in the UK with 1 depot in London. In 2013 we opened Edinburgh and Ireland (unfortunately our Dublin depot closed as a result of various changes to legal and financial regulations following Brexit). In the UK & Europe, we expanded gradually and now offer a wide range of vehicles: campervans and self-contained motorhomes.

More countries and planets coming soon! We are proud of this piece of Kiwi ingenuity that is now taking over the world!