On our recent NZ holiday we decided to hire a United 2 +1. Although the vehicle was great mechanically we had a few minor issues with some of the fittings,notably the heater (which wouldn't work in the mornings) & the water tank which was leaking & needed refilling every 2nd day. United did exchange our vehicle 10 days into the holiday but again there were minor issues with a few fittings (back demister broken, hard to close side door etc) The vehicles were 2yrs 7 mths & 2yrs 6mths old, within the 3 year United label but only just. As it was not peak period & both vehicles were about the same age, I am wondering whether anyone has actually had a new vehicle from United. I would probably advise anyone looking at using United to consider their cheaper range Alpha as I'm sure the vehicles would be much the same as what we used, which wasn't really worth payiing the extra. Also keep your eye out for special deals such as the pay for 2 wks get one free offer that we used in October.
Despite this we enjoyed travelling in this way and found it very economical. We stayed at DOC campgrounds (contact DOC & they will send you the booklets) which were sited in many lovely locations. All had toilets (flush, pit or compost) which meant that we didn't have to use our toilet. It was however very nice having our own shower available, as the only showers at the DOC parks we stayed at were cold. The cost of diesel was about $1.23 per litre and the van averaged 9 litres per 100km.
The roads were excellent compared with many in Aus, with even secondary roads being good bitumen with neat white-lined edges (no crumbling shoulders) Very few were so narrow as to be an issue, although the tunnel on the Milford Rd does need care, particularly later in the morning when the tour buses start arriving.
Scenery was spectacular esp. the snow covered mountains , lakes & rivers (water , water everywhere!) The volcanic area on the North Island (Rotorua & Tongariro NP) should also not be missed as they are so different to anything here in Aus. Another cool place to visit is Hot Water Beach on the Coramandel Peninsula. The info suggests you hire a spade, but if you arrive after low tide many people have been and gone leaving holes already dug (although we were there late in the day)
In all we had 3 weeks & spent 1 on the North & 2 in the South. We could have done with another week on the North Island & no doubt if it had been warmer we would also have lingered longer at some of the beachy areas. No doubt we'll remedy this at some future date