Ayers Rock Car Hire

Ayers Rock Car Hire: How to Avoid Hidden Costs and Other Nasties

Ayers Rock Car Hire

Although we recommend that you drive to Uluru, we know that some people choose to fly in and hire a car at Ayers Rock.

This means that you can drive to Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Alice Springs or all the way to Darwin (like friends of ours recently did), without worrying about booking fares or keeping to bus timetables.

Whilst car hire at Ayers Rock is readily available, we’ve heard that people often get ripped off by unexpected charges, or simply can’t hire a car at all because they’ve left it too late.

Many of the complaints we’ve heard about car hire involve people not asking the right questions when they book their car.

Some people are not aware of the additional charges which car hire in the Northern Territory often attracts.

So on this page, we’re not only going to tell you how and where you can rent a car in Ayers Rock, but also some tips for avoiding hidden costs as well as information about the costs you can’t avoid.

Where to Rent a Car at Ayers Rock

Finding somewhere to hire a car at Ayers Rock will be the least of your worries.

Three major Australian car rental companies operate at both Connellan Airport (the name of Ayers Rock’s airport) and at Yulara, where all of the Ayers Rock accommodation is located.

You’ll be able to hire cars, campervans and even large 4WDs from both locations.

Car Hire at Connellan Airport

The airport is about 10 min drive away from Ayers Rock Resort (which is technically located at Yulara), and 20 min drive from the Rock itself.

At Connellan Airport, you’ll find desks for Hertz, Thrifty and Avis car rental companies. Pricing information is below.

Car Hire at Ayers Rock Resort

You have a choice of three Ayers Rock car hire operators, with starting prices as follows:

  • Hertz : starts from $99 per day (minimum 2 days car hire)
  • Thrifty:  starts from $73 per day (minimum 2 days car hire)
  • Avis: starts from $93 per day (minimum 2 days car hire)

Now for the important information: YOU MUST BOOK well in advance to avoid missing out on a car.

This is especially true from May-September, where there is very little chance of being able to hire a car when you’re straight off your flight.

To help you out, you can book online using the form above.

PLEASE READ THIS SECTION TO AVOID PAIN

Hire companies have a few hidden charges and rules that many people either aren’t told about or just forget about when they pick up their rental car.

The biggest single mistake that many overseas visitors make is to hire a 4WD (four wheel drive) when they’re only travelling between Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta or Alice Springs.

You do not need a 4WD if you’re only travelling between any of these places. All of the roads are very good, sealed highways.

Ayers Rock, NT Australia

Another hidden cost that can be avoided is the ‘One Way Surcharge‘. The One Way Surcharge is around $330, and occurs if you’re picking up your car in Ayers Rock, driving to Alice Springs and dropping it off at the car hire company there.

You can avoid this cost by booking a car for 3 days instead of 2.

Another cost that some companies charge is the ‘Premium Location Surcharge’. This is a charge of around $100-$125, which is slapped on to the price of Ayers Rock car hire simply because of location.

Some car rental companies don’t even tell you about it. Thrifty is the only car hire company operating out of Ayers Rock that fully discloses this charge on their rental agreements and actually tells you how much it is (a murderous 17.5% at Ayers Rock!).

The excuse we’ve been given is that there’s a higher number of cars damaged in the NT by tourists than anywhere else in Australia. Personally, I think it’s just a way to rip people off.

Unfortunately, there’s no way around this charge, not even for NT residents!

The Premium Location Surcharge varies from rental company to rental company. When hiring, make sure you enquire about it.

The last trap is in the car rental conditions. There are two common car hire conditions on Ayers Rock car hire (and Alice Springs car hire) which you MUST be aware of:

  • some companies do not allow you to drive between sunset and sunrise (from dusk onwards)
  • no car companies allow rental cars on dirt roads (4WDs are allowed on some dirt roads)

If you do either of these things, and they aren’t covered by your rental agreement, if you break down or have an accident, you will forfeit your security bond and you may also be required to pay for the cost of vehicle recovery and repairs!

The lesson here is: pay attention to the fine print and ask questions.

As we’ve pointed out above, when it comes tocar hire, make sure you ask questions and book ahead!


Have you hired a car at Ayers Rock/Uluru? Why not share your experiences, both good and bad, with other people so you can help them out.

Please leave your honest advice and tips about car hire at Uluru in the comments box below.

8 Comments

  • Trent Fisher says:

    Hi

    The tips above are great. One other tip/trap i think may be worth mentioning is about mileage restrictions i had a couple over from the UK and they hired a car not realizing that they were only allowed to drive xx kms per day. I just thought due to the distances in the outback might help.

    Thanks

    Trent

  • christina says:

    Is it really dangerous to drive at night around Ayers Rock? I have a trip coming up in 03/2015 but wanted to go out at night away from the town to do some astrophotography.

    • Amanda says:

      No, that would be ok – just be careful of large animals like kangaroos and camels on the road. However two things: you can’t actually get up close to Uluru after dark – the Park doesn’t allow it, and if you’re in a hire car you may not be able to drive it after sunset without voiding your insurance.

  • Rose says:

    Do any of the hire companies let you do the Mereenie loop in the 4WDs? What about an SUV? May be a silly question!

    • Amanda says:

      Central Car Hire in Alice Springs will let tourists take hire 4WDs in the Red Centre Way (this is what the Mereenis is called now). You would need to check with each company as they vary. Some will only let vehicles hired for mining/exploration works travel on dirt roads.

  • Jessica says:

    My 2016 Frommer’s guide says the Mereenie Loop Road from Kings Canyon is unpaved and a 4WD is needed if driving from there to Alice Springs. From reading your info above, it sounds like that is not true. Can you confirm? Thank you!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi there,

      Your Frommers guide is incorrect and given that the Mereenie Loop has been called ‘The Red Centre Way’ for about 8 years, I suspect it’s out of date. The Red Centre Way is a gravel road only from Kings Canyon to the Gosse Bluff/Glen Helen/West MacDonnell Ranges turnoff, approximately 170km. From this turn off, the road back into Alice through the West MacDonnells is ALL BITUMEN.

  • Ed says:

    We hired a 4WD (Holden Colorado 7) from Avis in Uluru as we didn’t have the choice of starting in Alice Springs. Rather pricey as a UK resident, a lot cheaper if you live in Australia, extortionate if you live elsewhere – but their rental conditions seem quite generous. They appear to allow any vehicle onto a gravel road, and a 4WD all over the place:

    “You and any Authorised Driver must only use the Vehicle on a road which is
    properly formed and constructed as a sealed, metalled or gravel road (unless
    the Vehicle is a 4 wheel drive vehicle).” – with the only named exception in the NT being the Jim Jim Falls road up in Kakadu.

    Glad we took a 4WD though – it was a week or so ago, just after the rain, and the unsealed parts were all 4WD only. It was fun.

    Hertz seem to allow any 4WD but not an AWD onto gravel roads – while they offered cheaper SUVs out of Uluru, it wasn’t clear if they would count as AWD or proper 4WD.

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