Car Rental security concerns South Island

Old Feb 9th, 2006, 03:06 PM
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Car Rental security concerns South Island

Four of us will be driving around the South Island for 10 days. I specifically selected Hertz because they offer such a wide selection of car choices and have an option to reduce the excess liability down to zero. The "superior wagon" should be comfortable and offer easy loading and unloading of our 4 bags. Now I am concerned that for security reasons, the hatch back of the wagon might make us more vulnerable to a break in. Loading 4 bags into a standard trunk is usually impossible. In general, we will be unloading our bags when we arrive at each destination. However, at the end of our trip, we plan on driving to Akaroa, walking around the town for a few hours (leaving our bags in the car) then moving on to Christchurch for the night. I have read that rental car break-ins are on the rise--should we take the chance in Akaroa or rent a car with a trunk?
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Old Feb 9th, 2006, 05:01 PM
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You shouldn't have any trouble if you park your van in a high visibility public place, such as on a busy street, or in shopping mall car parks.

Avoid such places as car parks at the start of walking tracks, or where there is likely to be no one around.

I would be wary of parking overnight on a street. but hotel car parks should be OK, particularly if they are well lit.

NZ is still relitively safe, but we have our share of low life yobbos, just like everywhere else. Just be sure not to leave things which are obviously valuable , such as cameras, laptops etc, in view, and youshould probably carry a rug or cover to put over your bags, although I have heard that this attracts thieves. You can't win.

I think the added comfort of a van should outweigh your fear of theft, but perhaps you should always carry you cash & passports with you, or leave them in safe deposit. Clothes & bags you can replace.
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Old Feb 11th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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Four of us drove around the SI for 2 weeks. I really did not want to take a wagon.

Trying to determine how much luggage we could take to fit into the car was a problem. Finally, after comparing the trunk capacities of the various full-sized sedans available, I decided to get the Holden Commodore, which had the largest trunk. Then I took out my suitcases and saw how they would fit into the trunk of my Toyota Avalon, which had a comparable capacity.

We finally ended up fitting 2-26" and 2- 20" soft-sided rolling suitcases and 3-4 smaller canvas bags, which we could empty or mash into the crevices, along with a small camera case. We carried nothing inside.

On the NI we drove a Mitsubishi Diamonte, with the same results. We had a comfortable ride.

Are you underestimating the capacities of a full-sized sedan?
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 05:46 PM
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I am planning a trip to SI and I believe there are travellers like myself who are planning to walk on some short tracks on the way from one location to another. Eg, I intend to walk along the Punakaiki Track on my way from Fox Glacier to Arthurs Pass. That means my luggage will be in the trunk. Does that mean that inevitably I may be a potential target for criminals or such cases would be less common at more popular tracks?
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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If you do go with a hatchback, make sure the hire company rents you one with the pull out cover that goes over your luggage in the back.

This can deter unwanted attention, though sadly will not fully eliminate the risk.

Unfortunately we do have some scumbags in NZ who target rental cars in the belief that tourists have some good pickings. keep the important stuff, passports, tix, credit cards etc either on you or locked in a hotel safe.

As Jed has noted, saloon cars have ample capacity. I have in the past hired Ford Falcons from Hertz and been able to get four peoples luggage plus work materials in the boot with space to spare. Similar sized cars are Holden Commodores and Mitsubishi Diamantes. Both widely available
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 10:02 PM
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I will most probably get a normal salon car and the luggages will be in the trunks. I suppose there may be scumbags who would pry open trunks but hopefully as long as I carry my valuables with me at all times, I should be doing ok.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 02:46 AM
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Paw -

I realize thieves live everywhere, but in six trips to NZ, we haven't had a single problem. I feel safer in NZ than just about anywhere and have no qualms about leaving luggage in my trunk (or leaving passports in our locked luggage in our room for that matter).

Don't worry about it, take normal precautions and have a good time.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 05:07 PM
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Paw

Most of the car thieves here seem to be opportunist. In the times I have had my car done over (Sadly more than once) it has been smash and grab. A couple of quarter lights broken.

Boots of cars rarely if ever get jemmied. Too much like hard work for the lazy b*ggers.

In saying that since I have now got an alarmed car they have not touched it.

Overall if you just exhibit the same caution you do at home you will be fine.

Have a great trip and enjoy.

Just to whet your appetite, its another beautiful sunny day today, 24 degrees celsius, about 75% humidity.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 06:11 PM
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Thanks for being reassuring. I hope to have a good time in NZ.

On another note, if I may, how do you rate the following non-major car rentals companies (am I allowed to ask here)? Anzed, McDonalds' and Apex. Service and reliability of car? Thanks.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 08:31 PM
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Re safety at walking track car parks. I can't comment on tracks in other areas, but in the past we have had a spate of break ins to cars parked at Te Anau Downs (Milford Track): Rainbow Reach and Te Anau control gates (Kepler Track): and at the Divide (Routeburn Track):

All these tracks are 3-4 day walks, and the cars are in the parks for this length of time.

It is likely that these SOB's are local, but I guarentee it's not confined to Te Anau.

I would be wary of leaving my car overnight at any car parks in close proximity to a town (say 20 - 30 km radius)

At the same time, and to put it in perspective, there have been about a dozen break ins in the past 2 years, and in that time thousands of people have walked the tracks, and probably many hundreds of cars have been left overnight, and not been broken in to, so if you have no easy alternative, and providing you take reasonable care, you will probably be OK.

Fingers crossed.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 09:52 PM
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In our last 2 weeks in NZ, both islands, I have to say that we never gave a thought to security other than taking the normal sensible precautions that you'd take anywhere. We didn't leave valuables in the car overnight, or for long periods, of course. Had we thought about it at all I guess we'd have taken the view that if the car was stolen and/or trashed it would be(fromm our selfish viewpoint) an inconvenience but no more. I wouldn't stress to much about it, just use common sense. NZ is still one of the safest places you'll find.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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We used Apex and rented a Toyota Corolla for 1/25/06 - 2/10/06 and toured the south island. We were very happy with the service and the quality of the car. We had absolutely no problems and the car was about 2 years old and had 80,000 miles. We did a loop around the entire south island and the car handled the roads great. Lots of pep. We were also pleased that they only charged an additional $8 NZD per day for the excess insurance ($0 deductible) whereas the larger companies like Avis and Hertz wanted $20+ NZD.
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