During the World Tour,  New Zealand,  Oceania,  TDM,  Tips

Opinions on Spaceships Beta S2 (New Zealand): Mini-van rental for 2 people

On the occasion of a colleague’s imminent departure for New Zealand, I reread my own articles about this beautiful country and realize that I forgot to write a review on Spaceships, the company where we rented a van for 24 days

Note: I take this opportunity to tell you that this article completes our guide about New Zealand: 27 days in New Zealand: itinerary, guide and budget and I have also added the photos for all the articles about New Zealand

Background

We visited New Zealand during our first world tour in November 2016. In 27 days, we criss-crossed the country (South Island + North Island) aboard our van rented at Spaceships

Our itinerary

More info on our itinerary here

Why Spaceships?

Because it is the cheapest company

Here’s what Spaceshipsoffered : $3,136 for 24 days, insurance included

At the time of booking we had a 20% discount for any vehicle departing from Christchurch. This suited us because we wanted to visit the South Island first – and return the car to Auckland where we had to catch our plane to Tahiti.

And what Jucyproposed : $3,480 for 24 days, insurance included

It should be noted that we only thought of booking a rental car 8 days before our arrival in New Zealand, whereas some people book months in advance. It’s possible, you’ll get better rates by booking in advance. Yes, it seems surprising, but in the middle of a world tour, we have a lot of things to think about and we completely forgot this “small detail”

Budget for transportation (all inclusive)

Here are the detailed costs related to the use of the van during our stay

  • Car Rental: 3136$NZ for 24 days
    • NZ$97 per day in November 2016 – NZ$2336 in total
    • NZ$30 of all-inclusive insurance per day – or NZ$720
    • Rental of a summer kit (table, chairs, freezer bags): 80$NZ

  • Washing the car: 40$NZ (exterior and interior, by pros), you have to make the car clean
  • Petrol: At NZ$1.92 per liter of petrol, this represents a big budget of NZ$1056 for 5500km
  • Toll: NZ$0. We didn’t go all the way north. In any case, it would be nothing at all, about 5$NZ
  • Plane Auckland – Christchurch: NZ$160 for two
  • Ferry Picton – Wellington: NZ$253 for one car < 5.5m in length and two adults

You should know that we already had a GPS (the rental costs NZ$5/day if I am not mistaken)

And we didn’t think about getting car insurance outside of Spaceships (it would have been cheaper)

Which vehicle to choose?

We have opted for the Beta 2S model

It is better than the Beta and Rocket models because

  • there are only two of us and we don’t need the third seat which is in the way (it’s only used to pick up people hitchhiking in reality)
  • it’s all-purpose, the logo is very discreet
  • we have USB slots connected to the 2nd battery (the one that powers the fridge and the light), so we can charge a phone and the GoPro at night
  • we can lengthen the bed up to 2.3m (in theory, but I will explain why we didn’t).

Why didn’t we choose the Dream Sleeper Mini model? Simply because it’s too expensive 😀

Our opinion on Spaceships Beta 2S

1. Rates : my note 9/10

The rates are the lowest for the period we have requested. But they are also advantageous because

  • we have unlimited mileage. It’s a good thing because we expected to do 3700km at the beginning to finish at 5500km
  • the additional driver (me) does not cause any additional load
  • we do not return the car in the same city as the one of departure. On the contrary, taking the car in Christchurch gave us a 20% discount.

2. Customer Service & Reception : my mark 10/10

I am very happy with the Spaceships service. We were able to reserve our vehicle directly on their site and received confirmation very quickly
We paid part of the NZ$627.38 online (by credit card) out of the NZ$3,136.88 and paid the rest on site

When we went to Spaceships (by cab) in Christchurch, the car was waiting for us. They showed us all the features, storage and so on. The mattresses were already covered with their (clean) sheet, the blanket in its cover. The car already had some petrol. The employee gave us a lot of advice about gas (where to buy cheaper etc.)

We were shown a corner where previous travelers left their food and cooking gas. We were able to recover some nice things

The car can be picked up and dropped off outside of business hours (by appointment only) at no charge. We didn’t have to do it but it’s cool that the option exists

3. Storage space : my note 7/10

I’m going to take some pictures from the official Spaceships website, I hope you don’t mind because I forgot to take some pictures

The plusses :

I find the storage space in the back to be really spacious. We really have room to empty the contents of our backpacks, to put them in the bottom of the main trunk, and to have very quick access to the contents of our bag. It’s like a tote bag for us. We even put the groceries in it if we need them

The – :

As for the storage of kitchen utensils, it’s spacious enough I find. BUT the weight of the mattress on top of it makes the operation a little difficult, it is often JB who takes care of the contortion, pushing the mattresses to open the kitchen storage. Similarly for the fridge, you have to lift the mattress a little to open (from above) the fridge

4. The bed / mattress : my note 9/10

The plusses :

I think the mattress is tip top! One sleeps super well. Good, the width is 1,4m, but fortunately it is cold at night so that does not bother us too much (and we are far from being overweight). I think that when we make a lot of road and spend the day at the wheel, to spend a good night is really important

There are curtains everywhere and tinted glass on both sides at the back, which guarantees privacy. There are even curtains separating the front seats and the sleeping area (you can change in the car without any problem)

The cool thing about Spaceships, unlike its competitor, is the ability to sleep halfway outdoors .

Basically, we pull on two metal pieces, put a board on top, put a tarpaulin (with zipper and anti-insect sail) and voilà..

So with this system, we could have had a 2.3m long bed

Why didn’t we opt for the 2.3m bed?

The employee asked us if we needed an extra wooden plank + an extra mattress to have a 2.3m bed (because a standard bed of 1.9m long = 1 wooden plank and 3 pieces of mattress). But I refused. For 3 reasons

  • Seeing the car, I think I really need a lot of space and hanging around with a wooden plank + an extra mattress, it’s too cumbersome. Let’s see what we already have in the back with a 1.9m bed

  • Because it’s too cold at night to sleep halfway out
  • Because I’m so stressed in life, I’m afraid that someone will attack us in the middle of the night (since we’re only protected by the tarp, anyone can remove the tarp)

Yes, it’s silly, isn’t it? Because that’s one of the reasons why I chose a more expensive model (Beta 2S) vs. the Beta at Spaceships

The – :

I don’t know if the system is better in others, but at Spaceships, the mattresses move a lot during transport. Since we’re so well equipped, we were able to find a system to secure it with a rope and two carabiners

Here is the bed folded and tidy at best

With the mattresses and blanket folded, it still looks very “bulky” in the back of the car. Well, this is the case for all vans, not only Spaceships, but I want to give you an honest opinion. It’s also not possible to leave the bed “open” all the time because you wouldn’t have been able to access the fridge and kitchen utensils otherwise

5. Spaces and kitchen utensils : my mark 8/10

The plusses :

Spaceships offers something that others don’t have, it’s this little convertible table hanging on the side. That way, when I make dishes that smell a little bit, the smell doesn’t stay inside the car

But when it rains you can also cook, like at Jucy’s, in the back of the car

We are even provided with a system for eating under cover. Isn’t that too classy? Admittedly, it takes a Bac+12 to set it up the 1st time, but we get used to it rather quickly

The “kitchen utensils” kit is super well supplied. Honestly, there isn’t a single moment when we say “oh damn, we would have liked to have this or that”. Because even the sponge and the dishwashing liquid are provided

The – :

You have to fetch the basket of utensils (and push the mattresses to open the storage space each time). Whereas with other van companies, you just have to open the trunk and everything is at hand. I show you the Jucy’s kitchen as a comparison

6. Functioning: grade: 7.5/10

The plusses :

There are a lot of hills in New Zealand but this isn’t a problem for our van. However, the roads reserved for 4×4 aren’t practicable for this type of vans, of course

Even if you drive fast, the insulation is perfect and there isn’t too much noise. As for fuel consumption, we are at 10 liters per 100km

For left-hand drive, JB is doing very well. Because the car is automatic. This also frees a lot of space between the two seats (even the handbrake is just a button to push). Honestly, we could have easily put an air mattress on the seats and a child could sleep there
Note: if you are traveling with a child, I recommend the Beta to have a 3rd seat + buy a small air mattress to put on the front seats, but hey, it has to be small.

The – :

You can see that we have two large side doors. That’s great, but unfortunately for us, we had a lot of trouble opening one of them. Normally, we just had to pull the handle to make the door open by itself. But this one didn’t want to, we had to push the door (heavy) and my little arms hate this door

Until the day this door stopped opening. Spaceships immediately referred us to a garage nearby, but despite everything, the door stopped opening (we should have changed the door actually). They offered us either to take another car in Christchurch or Auckland but we were so far away from both cities that we had to live with the door closed all the time for a week

Conclusion

Spaceships Beta 2S is a very good van model for those who like discretion, a comfortable bed, have a lot of stuff and don’t cook too much

In addition, it offers new solutions to very specific needs in

  • those who are always warm (and who will appreciate sleeping half outside)
  • those who are very tall (and who will like the extension up to 2.3m for the bed)
  • those who cook very smelly things and don’t want to find that sweet smell on their sheet
  • those who like to travel with class (who will like a discreet car, not too branded… me for example, I really have a hard time with the graffiti-covered cars at Escape, it looks very dirty I think).

Van vs. car rental

Since wilderness camping is forbidden in New Zealand, we often went to private campsites (between 10$NZ and 25$NZ/person), where even the hot shower was charged

In terms of price, for two people: Whatever the company, vans + camping sites are more expensive than renting a car and sleeping in youth hostels

I let you check my calculations for 24 days, 23 nights, and 2 people in November in New Zealand

But sleeping in the van allows you to cook/sleep in front of these beautiful landscapes. Is it worth the 1414$NZ? I let you decide, there is no right or wrong answer

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