Choosing a great car can take your road trip from so-so…to woah!!
There are plenty of options to choose from, and that’s why we created this simple guide answering all your questions about Tasmania car hire – and saving you money!
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You’ve just stepped off the plane. You’ve said g’day to the friendly airport sniffer-dog. The bags have been collected. So, what’s next?
In this guide to Tasmania car hire we not only show you how to save money on your rental car, but we also give you all the tips and info you need to make a smooth start to your Lap of Tasmania road trip.
Quick summary of Tasmania car hire options
Do you just want to know the best car hire companies in Tasmania?
This table summarises all the options, with the best ones at the top.
Make your booking by clicking on the link provided for each company.
Low / High Season
Pros / Cons
|🔥 Bargain Car Rentals|
$116 / $1,136
|Tassie owned family business. Exceptional service. Best prices in low season. Less competitive in summer. Supports the Lap of Tasmania - 5% OFF (use our link)|
|🔥 AutoRent Hertz|
$235 / $826
|Excellent service. Large, young fleet of vehicles. Great reputation. High prices in winter, but very competitive in summer.|
|Apex Car Rentals|
$151 / $648
|Excellent customer feedback. Small company, servicing Hobart and Launceston only. Competitive pricing year-round. Insurance will not cover you on Bruny Island.|
|East Coast Car Rentals|
$144 / $1,043
|Mid-range pricing year-round. Good customer feedback. Complicated pickup and dropoff process for early/late flights. Hobart and Launceston only.|
$171 / $1,012
|Large company with solid reputation. Wide coverage. Mid-range pricing year-round. Need to pay extra to drive on unsealed roads.|
$171 / NA
|Large company with solid reputation. Driving on Bruny Island is prohibited. High prices. Website wouldn't let us book in January 2020.|
$223 / NA
|Large company with solid reputation. Driving on Bruny Island is prohibited. Very high prices. Website wouldn't let us book in January 2020.|
NA / $1,200
|We checked numerous date ranges, but could only find SUVs on offer through to Xmas. Very limited availability in January. In winter there is a 'snow' fee to access Cradle Mountain.|
|ABC Car Hire|
$141 / $707
|Small company. Competitively priced year-round. Older vehicles. Launceston only.|
|RentForLess / Drive|
$237 / $1,064
|Website redirects to Drive Car Hire. Not as competitive on price. No information available regarding driving in alpine areas.|
H = Hobart, L = Launceston, D = Devonport, B = Burnie
Prices were calculated for 7-day bookings in September (low season), and January (high season), picking up and dropping off at Hobart Airport, for a compact automatic vehicle (eg. Kia Cerato or Hyundai i30) with no extras and no excess reduction options selected.
We would have preferred to select a larger vehicle, however the variation between companies unfortunately made it too difficult to compare them fairly.
We can’t cover everything in such a small table, so if you’d like to know more about the pros and cons of each company, and especially the driving restrictions, please keep reading!
What are your Tasmania car hire options?
Hiring a rental car is the perfect way to explore the island, and both Hobart and Launceston airports have a large range of Tasmanian car hire options.
The big brands like Hertz, Avis and Europcar are all there, but you’ll also find some smaller car hire companies that we think you’ll love.
Car hire in Hobart Airport and Launceston Airport
These are the car hire companies that will greet you in the arrivals hall at both Hobart Airport and Launceston Airport:
- Budget Car Rental
- Thrifty Car Hire
Choosing one of these companies will mean you get your road trip started quicker and with less hassle than for the smaller companies (see below).
The drop-off process is usually simpler and quicker as well.
Car hire near Hobart Airport and Launceston Airport
Some car hire companies are located close to both airports and operate a pick-up and drop-off system.
- Bargain Car Rentals
- Apex Car Rentals
- East Coast Car Rentals
- YesDrive Car Rentals (Hobart only)
- ABC Car Hire (Launceston only)
The system these companies use is fairly similar, and operates like this:
- Let them know your flight number beforehand
- Contact them after collecting your luggage
- They pick you up from the airport and drive you to their nearby office where you collect your car
- Drop the car off at either the airport or the company office
- If dropping off the car at an office, they will then transport you and your luggage to the airport (after-hours you may need to book a taxi to transport you to the airport)
Our review of Tasmania car hire options
Not all hire car companies are the same. Some charge more up front, but have better insurance cover. Others might cost less, but restrict you from driving on unsealed roads.
To help you make your decision, we’ve looked at 11 large and small car rental companies in Tasmania.
- First, we show you the companies that allow you to drive on unsealed roads and in alpine regions – very important in Tasmania!
- Then, we look at customer feedback and whether they offer great value.
This table summarises what we found, showing you the limitations that some companies will place on you when you hire a car from them.
We talk about this in more detail below, so keep reading!
Spirit of Tasmania
|Apex Car Rentals|
|East Coast Car Rentals|
|ABC Car Hire|
Note: You’ll notice that Enterprise Car Rentals isn’t on this list. Unfortunately we can’t recommend them because we couldn’t obtain their Australian T&Cs (despite reaching out to them).
Taking your hire car on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry
Driving a rental car in the snow in Tasmania
Our research found that all companies allow you to drive in Tasmania’s alpine regions. However, very few allow you to drive in the snow.
Snow isn’t common on Tasmanian roads, but if you are visiting Tasmania in winter and plan to visit Mt Wellington, Mt Field, Cradle Mountain or any other alpine location then we suggest you discuss this with your agent.
We also noticed that many T&Cs prohibit driving ‘above the snow line’.
All the definitions we found spoke of the snow line only existing in the snowfields of NSW and VIC, and didn’t apply to Tasmania – however a recent conversation with one of our Facebook group members found that Thrifty will charge you a $25/day ‘snow fee’ for your entire rental period, even if you only only go to Cradle Mountain for one day!
If in doubt, best ask for clarification.
Driving a rental car on unsealed roads in Tasmania
It’s easy to get confused with this one when reading the T&Cs.
A few clearly state ‘no driving on unsealed roads’, but after asking for clarification they then said it was ok, so long as the roads were ‘gazetted’ or maintained, and not off-road (ie. 4WD tracks).
Some also allow you to drive on unsealed roads for a small daily fee, or by accepting that you’ll pay more in the event of an accident.
We’ve designed the Lap of Tasmania route so you don’t need to take your car onto unsealed roads – but there are still some places around Tasmania that you can’t reach without hitting the gravel.
Attractions in Tasmania that do require driving on unsealed roads include:
- Lake Dobson (Derwent Valley)
- Cockle Creek (Far South)
- Southern Bruny Island
- Friendly Beaches (Freycinet)
- Cape Raoul hike trailhead (Tasman Peninsula)
- Bream Creek Market (Tasman Peninsula)
- Western Explorer Road (West Coast)
- Fortescue Bay (Tasman Peninsula)
If you’d like to visit any of these places then we recommend having a chat with the rental agency to get the latest information regarding their terms.
Reputation and customer feedback
The last, and perhaps most important thing we researched for these companies was their online reputation and customer feedback.
This is always very subjective, as negative experiences are more likely to trigger an online review. But we still feel it is important to scan TripAdvisor, ProductReview, and other online forums to get a feel for both the good and the bad.
Doing this, it became clear that Bargain Car Rentals, AutoRent Hertz, East Coast Car Rentals and Apex Car Rentals are the best Tasmania car hire companies from a customer service perspective.
Thinking about booking with East Coast Car Rentals?
East Coast Car Rentals are great, but before booking you need to know that their shuttle between office and airport only operates between 7am and 5:30pm. So this means…
- Morning arrival – If your flight is the first into Hobart then you may need to wait an hour or so at the airport before the first shuttle arrives.
- Arriving between 6:30am and 5pm – No problems!
- Evening arrival – If your flight arrives later than 5pm then you will miss the last shuttle and you will not be able to pick up your car until the following day.
- Departure – Drop-offs are fine at any time, but before 7am and after 5:30pm you will need to book a taxi to take you from the office to the airport (2km) at your cost.
The best Tasmania car rental company
Bargain Car Rentals – If you want the best all-round car rental company then we recommend Bargain Car Rentals.
We always prioritise Tassie businesses wherever possible, and when you experience their fantastic customer service you’ll be hooked – just like us!
The team at Bargain strongly support Tassie road trippers and have generously offered Lap of Tasmania readers with even more value – a 5% discount off any car rental!
AutorentHertz – If you don’t mind paying a small premium for the simplicity and confidence that comes from a larger company, then we recommend using AutorentHertz. They are also nicely priced during the Tassie summer (book here).
Apex Car Rentals – One of the smaller companies, but we hear very good reports from their customers. An excellent no-fuss alternative.
East Coast Car Rentals – Their pick-up and drop-off process can be limiting if you have an early or late arrival, but they receive very good reviews and compete well on price.
Book your car ahead – not on arrival.
Tasmania is only small, and it is isolated from mainland Australia. This means the number of cars available at any one time is limited and rental agencies can’t easily shuffle cars around like they do on the mainland.
Tasmanian tourism is also highly seasonal, and experiences huge spikes in demand for rental cars whenever a cruise ship docks in Hobart – placing further stress on the limited supply.
But if you book ahead you’ve got nothing to worry about!
Rules for renting a car in Tasmania
The minimum requirements for hiring a car in Tasmania are similar to those around Australia. These will vary between companies, so make sure you ask, or check their FAQs online.
Age: Most require the driver to be at least 21 years of age.
Licence: A full licence is normally mandatory.
Experience: Some agencies require a minimum of 3 years full-licence driving experience.
Overseas Drivers: An International Drivers Licence or an English language licence from a foreign country is normally sufficient. If you have a non-English language licence then you may also need an International Driver Licence and/or a translation of your licence.
How to get from the airport to your accommodation in the city
You’ve got your new wheels – now it’s time to drive to your accommodation.
Driving from Hobart Airport to Hobart CBD
Distance: 18km | Driving time: 20-40 minutes
Driving from Hobart Airport into the city is easy.
- Follow the airport road (Holyman Avenue) past the petrol station before turning left at the big roundabout onto the dual carriageway Tasman Highway ‘A3’.
- Once you’re on the highway you simply follow it all the way into Hobart’s CBD
- Keep your eyes open as you approach the Tasman Bridge – the central lane over the bridge switches direction morning and night and may result in the need to merge left. Don’t worry, as green and red lights clearly mark the status at any particular time.
The big roundabout near the airport gets very busy during morning peak hour – as does the Tasman Highway through to Hobart – so if your flight is arriving early then allow up to an hour to get into Hobart.
Driving from Launceston Airport to Launceston CBD
Distance: 15km | Driving time: 15-30 minutes
The drive from Launceston Airport into central Launceston is also quick and easy.
- Turn right at the airport gates onto Evandale Road and head north.
- Proceed straight through the large roundabout where you join the Midlands Highway – ‘National Highway No. 1’
- Follow the highway all the way into Launceston
Where to park in Hobart and Launceston
Outside the CBDs of both Hobart and Launceston you’ll find street-side parking to be plentiful and free. They are small cities and walking is an excellent option if you’d like to save a few dollars.
Car parking in Hobart
In Hobart, there are three multi-story carparks in the CBD within walking distance of Salamanca and North Hobart precincts – Centrepoint, Argyle Street, and Hobart Central.
Each offer the first 1.5hrs free (Mon-Sat), and the first 3 hours free on Sundays – how good is that?! Public toilets are also available at each.
Street parking is available throughout the CBD for a fee. A new high-tech system has recently been installed – EasyPark – and it allows you to pay using coins, cards or the EasyPark app. For more information and to download the app, visit the EasyPark website here.
Car parking in Launceston
EasyPark is also in use in Launceston.
There are many car parks and metered zones across the Launceston CBD.
Paterson Street East, Cimitiere Street, and Paterson Street West car parks are all conveniently located in central Launceston and are within walking distance of City Park, Royal Park and most other Launceston attractions.
If you’re planning on visiting Cataract Gorge (highly recommended!), your best parking options is at Cataract Gorge Reserve Car Park.
Launceston City Council have some terrific maps showing the locations, fees and other information for all these carparks and more, right here.
Petrol stations near Hobart and Launceston airports
Most rental agreements ask you to return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel, so it’s best to fill up as close as possible to the drop off location.
Both Hobart and Launceston airports have a petrol station that is only minutes away.
This is the closest petrol station to Hobart Airport:
Name: BP Hobart Airport
Hours: 7 days, 24 hours
Fuels: Unleaded, Unleaded 95, BP Ultimate, BP Ultimate Diesel
Address: 3 Holyman Avenue, Cambridge, TAS, 7170 [here]
This is the closest petrol station to Launceston Airport:
Name: United Breadalbane
Company: United Petroleum
Hours: 7 days, from 6am – 10pm
Fuels: Diesel, LPG, Unleaded E10, Premium 98, Unleaded 91
Address: 1 Translink Ave, Western Junction TAS 7212 [here]
For emergency services dial 000. It will work even if you are outside the coverage of your mobile phone provider.
11 tips and tricks for no-hassle car hire
Hiring a car is easy, and in almost all cases there is never a single problem.
By taking these 11 simple steps you minimise the chance of something going wrong in the first place, while also covering yourself in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
- Always read the Terms and Conditions before booking.
- Inspect your vehicle and take photos on your mobile phone from all sides before driving away – even if you see nothing wrong. If anything at all that looks scratched, dented or damaged then let the agent know. This evidence could prove crucial in showing you weren’t responsible.
- Confirm the rules for driving on unsealed roads and in alpine regions.
- Ask about their process if you have a breakdown, lock your keys in the car, or are involved in an accident.
- Write down any emergency contact numbers, but don’t leave them in the car – we suggest your purse or wallet.
- Ensure your phone has mobile coverage in Tasmania.
- Ask what type of fuel your car takes and get the agent to show you how to open the fuel flap
- Check whether you need to return the car with a full tank of petrol and put a reminder in your phone for your last day, so you don’t forget.
- Allow time to drop off your vehicle before checking in for your plane, especially if you need a transfer from the rental office to the airport.
- Try to be there when the agent does the final inspection of the car, so that you can answer any questions on the spot.
- In most cases there won’t be any problems at all, and in that case we suggest asking for written confirmation from the rental company – this can save you a lot of trouble in the even of any confusion after you’ve returned home.
Toll fares in Tasmania
It’s pretty simple – there aren’t any!
Other useful resources
Start your Lap of Tasmania road trip!
Whether you fly in to Hobart or Launceston, it’s easy to start your Lap of Tasmania road trip.
You can easily spend a couple of days in Hobart exploring its incredible history, vibrant markets and gastronomic delights. [Read More]
Launceston and the Tamar Valley
Launceston – ‘Lonnie’ to the locals – is Tasmania’s second largest city and it is your gateway to the wineries, restaurants and natural beauty of the iconic Tamar Valley [Read More].
If you’re looking for an overview of all the sights, accommodation and dining options along the route, we recommend starting with our Lap of Tasmania 14-day itinerary. We call it the ‘Ultimate’ because it lets you experience everything this amazing island has to offer at a leisurely pace.