Motorhomes and caravans - what are the real costs?

Shaun Newman

Written by Shaun Newman

It’ll transform your life, but a motorhome or caravan can be one of the most expensive purchases you ever make.  However, once you've got the initial purchase price out of the way, a motorhome or caravan can be a surprisingly cost-effective lifestyle choice.  Not only that, if you buy right, the vehicle will look after you in terms of re-sale value as well.

Let’s break down the on-going costs of motorhome and caravan purchase:

WOF or COF

Like your car, motorhomes and caravans need regular warrant of fitness (WOF) or certificate of fitness (COF) safety checks.  A WOF applies to caravans and motorhomes that have a maximum load carrying capacity of 3,500kg.  A COF applies to motorhomes with a maximum load carrying capacity of over 3,500kg.

A WOF has the benefit of being required less often, it can be done at a wider range of places and it’s also cheaper.  But don’t dismiss a vehicle on a COF, as the vehicle will allow you to carry more.  Think larger water tanks, bigger batteries, taking friends and family with you, more gear, bikes and other toys.  The inconvenience of needing a COF more often will easily be forgotten when you’re on the road in a vehicle that can carry all your gear safely and within the law. Just think, what are the implications if you have an accident in an overloaded vehicle? 

TrailLite sells both COF and WOF based motorhomes, so we’re happy to give you impartial advice and information on your options and what will suit you best.                                   

WOF within the first three years Not required 
WOF after the first three years  $59 annually 
COF $139 six-monthly 



TrailLite Service Centre

Vehicle Registration (excludes ACC levy)

Caravan  $32.48 annually
WOF based motorhome $183.81 annually 
COF based motorhome up to 6,000kg $323.01 annually 

 

Road User charges (RUC)

Road user charges apply to diesel fuelled vehicles.  Almost every motorhome on the road will be diesel powered.

Costs are calculated on a number of factors, but most people can expect to pay between $62 and $68 dollars per 1,000km.  Motorhomes able to carry over 6,000kg will pay around $104  dollars per 1,000km.

Insurance

Motorhome and caravan insurance premiums depend greatly on the value of the vehicle.  Here’s some examples:

$30,000 caravan $450
$70,000 caravan $735
$70,000 motorhome  $580
$120,000 motorhome  $875
$250,000 motorhome  $1,750

 

TrailLite provides insurance from New Zealand’s two specialist motorhome and caravan insurance companies, Covi and Campercare.  Please ask if you have any questions or would like a quote.         

Nightly site costs

This one is entirely up to you. You can go a year freedom camping and not spend a cent, or you can stay at luxury campgrounds with hot pools and fantastic locations and spend a heck of a lot more.  Most people will do a mixture of free camping (options are available everywhere, and although there are some restrictions, the right to freedom camp is protected by law), low cost camping ($3 - $12) at DOC campgrounds, NZMCA parks, etc and a few nights in paid for campgrounds where they can catch up with the washing, fill up with water and enjoy the facilities.  Caravans will be a bit more restricted with freedom camping, but low-cost options are abundant.

Resale value

This could end up being the one cost that bites you the most, so choose wisely.  While some well-regarded brands (TrailLite – nudge, nudge) will depreciate only around 7% per annum in the first 2 years and then level off at around 4%-1% per annum after that, many brands can lose up to 20% in the first year. 

We’ve sold thousands of pre-owned motorhomes and caravans of almost every brand, so we’re happy to share our research on this if you want to know more.

Fuel

Again, depending on the weight and type of motorhome or caravan this can vary greatly.  Anything between 9L/ 100km to 16L/ 100km would be expected. 

A typical motorhome of a reasonable size on a COF would deliver fuel consumption of around 12L/ 100km.

 Fuel for a motorhome

Service and warranty

Every vehicle needs servicing and a motorhome or caravan is no different.  The motorhome base vehicle will need servicing on a regular interval.  The period between servicing varies by manufacturer and will impact your costs significantly.  Costs can be between $500 to $1,200 again depending on age and type of vehicle.

The motorhome or caravan body will also need regular checks which are typically around $200 - $300.

As you can see, when compared to other forms of travel, owning a motorhome or caravan can be a cost effective option with a low cost of ownership.  It also offers a level of freedom, fun and independence that can’t be matched by any other form of travel.

Find out all the reasons why TrailLite Motorhomes and Caravans is a wise choice

The information provided in this is for informational purposes only. Please do not rely soley on the figures presented without doing your own research. All information was correct at the time of writing. 

Shaun Newman

Written by Shaun Newman

Shaun is the General Manager at TrailLite and a passionate motor-homer. When he’s not at work or chasing kids around their many weekly activities you can find him travelling. Overseas when time and budget allow, otherwise exploring this beautiful country in a motorhome built for 5.