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.
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.
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.
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.
Do any of the hire companies let you do the Mereenie loop in the 4WDs? What about an SUV? May be a silly question!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Hi, I am looking to hire a car from the Gold Coast and travel out to Uluru and then fly home. Any advice?
meg roper, that woll be a vey expensive hire … consider flying to the red centre then hiring a car
Hi there, we are hoping to hire for a trip from Uluru to Darwin. We would be flying into Uluru and out of Darwin. Has anyone done similar, will the hire companies allow this? Any feedback is GREATLY appreciated ?
i seem unable to find any camper hire in Uluru. Do you know which company rents out campers there?
Hi Jacobien, check out Britz, Maui or Apollo campers. However, this is why we tell people to START their outback trips in Alice Springs, not just visit Uluru. Alice Springs gives you cheaper prices, more choice and definitely better supermarkets to stock up on groceries at city prices. Hope this helps,
Hi Jacobien. Did you find anywhere? We are having an issue with finding a company that operates from Uluru.
thank you for all your information, im staying at the ayers rock emu apartments for 2 nights. im looking to hire a car but only for travel to and from ayers rock and the resort really. i dont feel i have time to venture beyond. is there a need for me to hire a car ? what other option to get to the rocks please?
thank you king
can you recommend car hire companies with unlimited kms from ayers rock airport
Sorry Sue, to our knowledge there are none. This is why we say -over and over again+ on this site, that you should skip flying to Uluru and fly into Alice Springs and then drive to Uluru. Alice is cheaper for food, fuel, accommodation and you can hire an unlimited km vehicle from several places…
Is it possible to hire a campervan in Ayers Rock Airport?
I can’t see that any car rental companies in the airport offers campervan rental online.
Hi Amanda, i have the same question – is there any campervan car rental companies from Uluru airport ? If so, which ones so i can check.
We fly in May ‘19.
Thank you for all your valuable information.
Yes you can hire campervans from Apollo Campervans at Uluru.
You mentioned “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.”
Wondering if this is valid if I plan to visit Kings Canyon as well? Thanks.
You absolutely DO NOT NEED a 4WD if you are travelling from Alice to Uluru and then going out to Kata Tjuta. All of the roads are sealed highways. You can also drive to Kings Canyon via the Luritja Road (off the Lasseter Highway) on a sealed (bitumen) road as well.
The ONLY time you would need a 4WD is if you decided to return to Alice Springs via the Red Centre Way (see this page for a DETAILED guide), as it’s dirt and quite corrugated.
Again, please DO NOT HIRE a 4WD if you only plan to drive from Alice to Kings Canyon and then to Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
You seemed to say Apollo is renting vans in Uluru but I checked with them and they said it is only Alice Springs, they only rent cars in Uluru. Where did you get that information please?
From their website, Victor.
I’m planning hiring a car for less than 24 hours, pick-up AYQ resort, return AYQ airport. I’ve made a simulation with Thrifty and Avis. The first one actually shows me premium location surcharge, Avis doesn’t mention this but chatting with their client agents they assure that is included on the fees. May I have to trust them? Do you think also that they can ask me to pay the one way surcharge? Do you know if eventually there are other “secret” fees that they force me to pay at pick-up? Thank you
In the process of planning our trip to Australia next February (UK residents) and Avis are charging an extra $500 for a one way from Alice Springs to Uluru so have decided to drive both ways – saving the $500 on the one way charge and also 2 flights back to Alice Springs!! Just wanted to ask what the mobile phone signal is like along that road (just in case!!)?
Hi Amanda. We will be traveling from Alice Springs to Uluru. You mentioned there are car rentals that have unlimited km vehicles for hire – could you please point us to these? Also, we would like to experience driving on the unsealed roads for part of the trip, but are not going to be visiting Kings Canyon – which route would you recommend? Thank you!
According to Apollo’s website, I also found campervans are only available from Alice S. not Uluru. They only hire cars at Uluru
Yes, it has changed over the years, we have updated that piece of information. Thanks for letting us know.
Hi, we’re hiring a car to drive from Uluru to Alice Springs via Kings Canyon. Do we need a 4WD? And any tips? Thanks
Hi there, providing you are willing to do a bit of backtracking then you do not require a 4wd. It means you have to drive to Kings Canyon from the Lasseter Hwy and then return via the same route to get back onto the Lasseter Hwy to then drive to Alice Springs. Even the smallest car is very capable of doing this trip providing you don’t need the space. Hope this helps, cheers Gary
Thanks for that Gary… Any must sees on the way?
The price listed above are included of insurance?
I will hire the car form Ayers Rocks airport and drive to Adelaide in December. Is it a good idea?
Hi Amanda –
I looked for hire car in website carrentals.com for Jan 6th 2020 from AYE airport and returning the car back on Jan 7th at AYE airport; thrifty comes up with $68 for economy car. Does this include insurance?
Also, if we hire a car, would the car park and walks be open at 5AM? We are trying to beat the scorching sun and get the small walks done before 7AM.
Hi Priya, you would have to contact Thrifty for this information. The park is open from 5am – 9pm 365 days of the year. Hope this helps, cheers Gary
Ayers Rocks airport’s rental car is costly. If we personally drive this car. It can help us decrease some costs.