Why are Kiwis flocking to buy & hire out their own handmade campers?

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Quirky Campers NZ has seen an enormous increase in people looking for advice on how to buy or convert their own ‘bach on wheels’

Quirky Campers New Zealand, a unique campervan hire service offering handmade campers from around the country has seen their website traffic jump by more than 1000% since January – and hundreds of Kiwis a month are searching for information on camper van conversions online.

They are also fielding more calls from people interested in hiring out their bespoke campers when they’re not using them.

“It looks like staycations are going to become an increasingly popular option in 2020 and beyond, so we’re not surprised that ‘vanlife’ is attracting a lot of attention,” says Leanne Edwards, co-owner of Quirky Campers NZ.

“Building or buying your own customised camper can be a really cost-effective way to create a holiday home for yourself. We have noticed a definite uptick in calls from people wanting advice on conversions, along with how to make money from their vans when they’re not exploring New Zealand themselves.”

Leanne explains that a customised camper can more than pay for itself over time – something that is appealing to many potential van owners.

“It’s a compelling investment. It usually takes a few years to recoup your initial costs but then it’s all profit,” explains Leanne. “You can use your beautiful personalised van to explore your own backyard whenever you want and know that it’s earning money the rest of the time, rather than sitting on the driveway. It’s a win-win.”

Leanne thinks that in a post-lockdown New Zealand, customised campers are climbing in popularity as they are such a comfortable, special way to explore more of the country’s iconic spots without being tied down to one location.

“The customised vans themselves are a drawcard as they’re so unlike anything else out there,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with the factory-fitted vans, but they can lack those homely touches and the element of surprise and delight. Hand crafted vans boast features that you'd expect to find in a well-appointed bach. Think carved wooden cabinets, log burners, double beds and fully kitted out mini kitchens. It can certainly take your road trip up a notch or two.”

In response to the high level of queries, Leanne has pulled together some top tips for Kiwis interested in buying/converting and hiring out their own customised van.

Leanne's top tips for converting and hiring out custom campers

1) Go with what rents well. Aside from the quirky aesthetic of a custom camper, which is the main appeal, the most popular vans hired are automatic and ones you can stand-up in. It’s also a good idea to have some form of heating so your van still has appeal in the cooler months.

2) Get the best base vehicle you can afford. Budget about 50 percent of your investment on the base vehicle (leaving the rest for conversion) and find the best van (think good bodywork and service history) with the lowest kilometres on the clock that you can afford.

3) Decide how you want to convert. Find a converter (you can use the directory on the Quirky Campers NZ website) or do it yourself, if you have the skills and confidence. There are lots of layout ideas online for all manner of van makes/models. Write your list of must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. Have customers in mind if you plan to rent. Choose hardwearing materials, quality fittings and make things relatively intuitive to use!

4) Final thoughts on cost & payback. This varies depending on the age/size of vehicle and fit-out quality. However, for base vehicle and conversion, the investment could be $15k - $80k with a pay-back in rental income of 1 - 5 years respectively. While you have the benefit of your very own bach-on-wheels to use in the meantime.

Quirky Campers NZ was launched by husband and wife team, Leanne and Dan Edwards last year but is already causing quite a stir. The family owned business acts as an agent for a collection of friendly and likeminded campervan owners, each with a vehicle that they have lovingly created and want to share with the world.

The campers even have their own names, such as Mahara, which is like a Scandi style log cabin on wheels, complete with wood burner. Or Ivan – with a modern urban twist on a classic wooden camper van interior, he feels very much like you are travelling in your very own boutique hotel room.

Quirky Campers can currently be picked up from Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. Prices include all the essentials such as fully comprehensive insurance and booking fees. All current campers are pet-friendly.

For more information, visit quirkycampers.co.nz. You can also follow the brand on Facebook and Instagram.