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