After hours of research and debate we settled on the Lucky Crib from Lucky Rentals. We were looking for a cheap and cheerful camper van to spend 10 days exploring the North Island and the Lucky Crib seemed to tick all the boxes. The camper itself is a 2 berth Toyota Estima and we paid $58NZD per day for the rental (March 2013).
As we were planning to do a ‘loop’ trip around the North Island we picked the camper van up from Auckland Airport and also dropped it back off there. Lucky Rentals is located about 10 minutes’ drive from the airport and they will shuttle you from the airport to their office and back for a flat rate of $10NZD.
First impressions weren’t great – we arrived at their offices at around 1pm having booked our Crib to pick up that day presuming it would be ready to collect at 9am if we wanted. In fact, we had to wait 2 hours before we could drive away our camper van as we had to wait for someone to drop one off.
It turns out that the way Lucky Rentals works is that they charge the customer the full price on the first and the last day, and they rent out their camper vans out again on the day that the previous customer is due to be returning their camper van. The result is that the previous customer will want to make the most of their booking so they will not normally return it until the last moment (4pm), so the customer due to pick up the camper van will have to wait until it is returned – and Lucky Rentals pockets two days’ worth of rental (the cost of the last days rental from the previous customer, and the cost of the first days rental from the new customer!)
We thought this was extremely greedy and cheeky and it really put a downer on the start of a great trip. In fact, when we arrived at their office there were two other couples waiting to pick up their camper vans, and both had been waiting since 9am in the morning – only after waiting 5 hours in Lucky Rentals office were they able to pick up their camper van. They were obviously very angry at Lucky Rentals and it was a rather tense atmosphere in the office!
Layout of the camper van
The crib is obviously very compact, but it was exactly what we wanted.
When the bed is not folded out in the sleeping position there is room to sit in the van – although when we folded the bed down on the first night we kept it folded down the whole 10 days as we did not wish to sit in our camper van when it was such great weather outside!
At night when we were sleeping we stored our backpacks on the front seats, and then during the day time we just threw them in the back on our bed. We found this worked reasonably well, but at the end of the 10 days I was a little bit fed up of always moving my backpack from the back to the front and then rummaging around to find things. It is a great size for a small trip, but I’d invest in a larger camper van if you plan to spend any longer than 10 – 14 days touring around.
The camper van came with a cooler box that we managed to keep cool by freezing down old milk bottles whenever we stayed in camp site with freezer facilities. The ice would then keep our food cool for about 2 days before we needed to freeze the milk bottles again.
We found there was plenty of room for food storage in the back, although we didn’t find the sink very useful as it was just too small and would turn out to be too messy to really wash anything inside the camper van. It was easier to simply wash our utensils and plates under the taps provided at most campsites.
We found that the gas stove did do the job, although compared to other gas burners we have used in the past it was less powerful and so it took a little longer to cook food and boil water. We’d therefore tend to use the cookers in campsite kitchens when we could. The gas bottles also seemed to run out pretty fast and one bottle only seemed to cook 3 meals – so stock up when you first set off!
We paid extra to rent a picnic table and chairs set from Lucky Rentals, which (if I recall correctly) cost us $25NZD for 10 days rental. It was a very worthwhile investment as we loved eating and sitting outside in the evening.
If I am honest we did expect the fuel efficiency to be better on a small camper van like this, however, it did not seem to consume any less fuel that our larger Totoya HiAce that were drove around the South Island in 2012. The Estima managed around 9km a litre.
Despite the rocky start, and the minor issues I have mentioned above, I would actually say that you should certainly consider Lucky Rentals. They were the cheapest camper van rental company that we found, in fact substantially cheaper than most other companies. The camper van we hired was clean and reliable, and was certainly everything we wanted in a budget rental.