New Zealand can be an expensive place. As I described in two of my first posts (here and here), written shortly after arriving in the country, I was not expecting to find a bowl of soup to cost me $15 NZD.
Fortunately, I managed to pick up a few tips during my 6 week stay that allowed me to save a significant amount of money.
The following is a list of tips for travelling New Zealand on a budget!
How to travel around New Zealand for less than $50 USD a day:
1. BYOCS (Bring Your Own Camping Supplies)
- If you don’t already have good quality camping gear, or don’t want to spend a lot of money buying brand new gear, you can often find great deals on sites like trademe.co.nz which is what most Kiwis use to sell used stuff. You can also ask around hostels in more touristy cities such as Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington which many travelers depart from.
- New Zealand has so many amazing camp sites to choose from. Download the Campermate App to read reviews from other campers on the best campsites out there.
2. Create a WWOOFing profile.
- Our most amazing and unforgettable moments in New Zealand were mostly during our time WWOOFing in Waitata Bay. We got unbelievable lucky, and stayed in a beautiful glamping accomodation with a private ocean view, something we would never have been able to afford by ourselves! You can read more about our experience here, here and here. By staying in the same place for more than just a few days, you get the chance to explore the area, get to know the locals and hopefully learn some new skills!
- To register with WWOOFing New Zealand, you need to pay a one time $40 membership fee ($60 for couples). You will also need to get a work visa in order to WWOOF, as specified on the New Zealand government website.
3. Cook your own meals.
- Eating out in New Zealand can be expensive (unless you just eat pizza and fish and chips, two very cheap meals).
- By getting into the habit of cooking your own meals, you will save a huge chunk of cash.
- Couchsurfing is one of my favourite ways to meet locals when travelling in another country.
- In New Zealand, I found Wellington to be the most couchsurfing friendly place. You may have a bit of a harder time to find hosts in smaller towns in New Zealand.
- We had one successful couchsurfing experience (in Wellington), with most of our requests either rejected or unanswered. Fortunately, this positive experience made up for the effort put into the process of finding a host.
- Also, give back to your hosts! Cooking a meal is a great way of saying thank you.
5. Take advantage of discount sites such as Book Me to book activities
- Use bookme.co.nz to book activities ahead of time. They often have discounts on bike and equipment rentals, sky diving, paragliding, etc. You could save up to 50% if you plan ahead!
6. Reconsider hitchhiking
- Hitchhiking gets a very bad rep in other countries, often for good reason. In New Zealand however, it is entirely socially acceptable to hitchhike.
- At the same time, do take into account your safety. Hitchhiking solo might not be the greatest idea, but if you do, at least try to get a picture of their license plate and talk to the driver to assess before getting into the car.
7. Buy a campervan (or borrow your friend’s car)
- If you will be in New Zealand for 4 months or more and would like to see as much as possible, it might be a good idea to buy a campervan. We saw tons of ads for campervans for sale at each of the hostels we stayed at.
- Although we didn’t personally take this route as I was only in New Zealand for a month and a half, a friend lent us his car which we used to drive up to Cape Reinga with! It was an amazing experience, and we saved even more as his car doubled as a bed. Did I mention that New Zealand has free camp sites everywhere, including on the beach??
8. Fly domestically OR …. See number 9.
- If you need to get somewhere fast, flying domestically is often the cheapest and easiest way to do so. We flew from Nelson to Auckland with Jetstar for only 80$ one way. Considering the ferry from Wellington to Picton is $50 for a walk on passenger, it’s a pretty good deal.
- You can often find even cheaper flights if you book ahead, sign up for the Jetstar Friday Frenzy newsletter, or use sites such as https://grabaseat.co.nz/.
9. Transfer Car
- Many tourists rent a car in Auckland and drive it down to Queenstown before flying out. Because of this, a cheap way to travel is to go in the opposite direction.
- Sites such as https://www.transfercar.co.nz/ list all of the rental cars that need to be relocated in one place so you can find what works for you.
- Plan ahead, and you could be traveling very cheaply. In some instances they might even pay for your gas and ferry fare.
10. Don’t drink (or just drink less)
- Alcohol in New Zealand can get expensive. A six pack of beer can cost you around $20 NZD, and a pint of beer in the pub can cost you upwards of $10 NZD.
- That’s the equivalent of 2 nights in a cheap hostel in Thailand. Think about it.
And there you have it. A few simple tips and tricks on how to not blow your budget in New Zealand.
You might also like: How to Hitchhike your way across New Zealand