Ultimate Guide to RC Cars in New Zealand: Choosing the Best Models for Your Hobby

RC cars, short for radio-controlled cars, are miniature model cars or trucks that are controlled remotely using a specialized transmitter. These hobbyist vehicles are popular for both casual fun and competitive racing, offering enthusiasts of all ages an exciting way to enjoy the thrill of driving on a smaller scale. In New Zealand, the RC car community is vibrant and diverse, making it an excellent hobby for those looking to engage in a new, exciting pastime.

Why Choose RC Cars as a Hobby

The Thrill of Speed and Control

One of the main attractions of RC cars is the thrill of speed and the precision of control. These small yet powerful machines can reach impressive speeds, and maneuvering them through various terrains provides an adrenaline rush similar to driving a full-sized vehicle. Whether you’re racing on a track or navigating an off-road course, the excitement is unparalleled. The ability to control these cars with finesse and see them respond instantly to your commands is a joy that keeps many enthusiasts hooked.

Building and Customizing Your RC Car

Another appealing aspect of the RC car hobby is the opportunity to build and customize your own car. Many enthusiasts enjoy the process of assembling their vehicles from kits, tweaking components, and upgrading parts to enhance performance. This hands-on involvement allows for a deep connection with the hobby and a sense of accomplishment when your car performs well. The customization possibilities are endless – from choosing different bodies and paint jobs to upgrading motors, tires, and suspension systems, you can create a car that’s truly your own.

Community and Competitions

The RC car community in New Zealand is welcoming and supportive, offering plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow enthusiasts. From local clubs to national competitions, there are numerous events where you can showcase your skills, learn from others, and enjoy the camaraderie of a shared passion. Competitions range from casual meet-ups to highly organized races, providing a platform for all levels of racers to test their abilities and have fun.

Types of RC Cars

On-Road RC Cars

On-road RC cars are designed for smooth surfaces and high-speed racing. These cars are perfect for asphalt tracks and offer precise handling and rapid acceleration.

Touring Cars

Touring cars are a popular subcategory of on-road RC cars. They are built for speed and agility, making them ideal for competitive racing on paved tracks. These models often feature sleek, aerodynamic designs and are equipped with sophisticated suspension systems. They’re great for those who enjoy high-speed racing and the thrill of cornering with precision.

Drift Cars

Drift cars are another exciting variant of on-road RC cars. They are specifically designed for drifting, allowing drivers to slide around corners with style and precision. These cars usually have specialized tires and a setup that promotes controlled skidding. If you love the idea of mastering the art of drifting, these cars will provide endless entertainment.

Off-Road RC Cars

Off-road RC cars are built to handle rough terrains and challenging environments. These models are perfect for outdoor adventures and can tackle dirt, gravel, and uneven surfaces with ease.


Buggies are a versatile type of off-road RC car, known for their ability to handle a variety of terrains. They have robust suspension systems and rugged tires, making them ideal for both racing and casual off-road driving. Buggies are perfect for those who enjoy versatility and want a car that can perform well in different environments.

Trucks and Monster Trucks

Trucks and monster trucks are designed for extreme off-road conditions. With their large, durable tires and high ground clearance, these vehicles can conquer obstacles and perform impressive stunts, such as jumps and flips. These models are great for those who love pushing their RC cars to the limit and tackling the toughest terrains.

Key Features to Consider

Speed and Performance

When choosing an RC car, speed and performance are crucial factors. Look for models with powerful motors and efficient transmission systems that can deliver the performance you desire. Consider what you’ll be using the car for – high-speed racing on smooth tracks or rugged off-road adventures – and choose a model that excels in those conditions.

Durability and Build Quality

RC cars can take a lot of wear and tear, especially if you’re racing or driving off-road. It’s important to choose a model with high-quality materials and robust construction to ensure longevity and reliability. Look for models that are well-built and have good reviews regarding their durability. Durable cars will save you money in the long run, as they’ll need fewer repairs and replacements.

Battery Life and Power Source

The power source of your RC car will significantly impact its performance and run time. Most RC cars use either electric batteries or nitro fuel. Electric cars are more convenient and easier to maintain, while nitro cars offer longer run times and a more realistic driving experience. Consider your preferences and needs when deciding between the two. Electric cars are great for beginners and those who prefer hassle-free operation, while nitro cars are suited for enthusiasts looking for a more authentic experience.

Where to Buy RC Cars in New Zealand

Local Hobby Stores

Local hobby stores are a great place to buy RC cars, as they often have knowledgeable staff who can provide advice and support. You can also see the models in person and get a feel for their size and build quality. These stores often host events and races, providing a great way to connect with the local RC community.

Online Retailers

Online retailers offer a wide selection of RC cars and often provide detailed product descriptions and customer reviews. Shopping online can be convenient and may offer access to models that are not available locally. Websites like eBay, Amazon, and specialized RC car retailers can provide a plethora of options to choose from.

Second-hand Markets

Second-hand markets, such as online auction sites and local classifieds, can be a good source for affordable RC cars. You can find great deals on pre-owned models, but be sure to inspect them carefully and ask about their condition and history. Platforms like Trade Me are popular in New Zealand for buying and selling used items, including RC cars.

Maintaining Your RC Car

Regular Cleaning and Inspection

Keeping your RC car clean and well-maintained is essential for its performance and longevity. Regularly clean the chassis, wheels, and other components to prevent dirt and debris from causing damage. Inspect your car for any signs of wear and tear, and address any issues promptly. Cleaning your RC car after each use, especially after off-road adventures, can prevent buildup that could affect its performance.

Replacing Parts and Upgrades

Over time, some parts of your RC car may need to be replaced or upgraded to maintain optimal performance. Common parts that may require attention include tires, motors, and batteries. Upgrading certain components can also enhance your car’s speed, handling, and durability. Many hobbyists enjoy the process of upgrading their cars, experimenting with different parts to find the best combination for their driving style and conditions.


Getting into the world of RC cars in New Zealand is an exciting and rewarding experience. With the right model, you can enjoy hours of thrilling driving, whether on-road or off-road. By considering the key features and top brands mentioned in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the best RC car for your hobby. Remember to maintain your vehicle regularly and take advantage of the local and online resources available to you. Happy racing!


What are RC cars?

RC cars are miniature models controlled remotely using a transmitter.

Why are RC cars a popular hobby in New Zealand?

They offer a thrilling driving experience, customization opportunities, and a vibrant community.

What types of RC cars are available?

On-road cars like touring and drift cars, and off-road cars like buggies, trucks, and monster trucks.

What should I consider when buying an RC car?

Consider speed, performance, durability, battery life, and power source.

Which are the top RC car brands in New Zealand?

Traxxas, Tamiya, and HPI Racing.

Where can I buy RC cars in New Zealand?

Local hobby stores, online retailers, and second-hand markets.

How do I maintain my RC car?

Regular cleaning, inspection, and replacing or upgrading parts.

Can I participate in RC car competitions in New Zealand?

Yes, through local clubs and community events.

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