New Zealand travel budget

By September 2, 2012New Zealand

On our recent trip to New Zealand, we really wanted to try and save as much money as possible by eating cheaply, sleeping in our campervan as much as possible and generally cutting out any expenses that were going to hurt our budget. This was backpacker style of travel and so was the budget.

New Zealand is not a cheap country. Far from it. When you factor in activities such as bungy jumping, cave tours, walking on glaciers and going to thermal parks such as those in Rotorua, you quickly find that your budget doesn’t go very far. We had a rough budget of NZ$70 per day when we were in New Zealand AFTER paying for our campervan and we consider this to be low-cost for New Zealand..


Here is our breakdown of expenses during New Zealand. Our New Zealand travel budget.

Budget for New Zealand

Budget for New Zealand

Accommodation expenses

As you can you can see, we spent very little on accommodation. When we first arrived in New Zealand, my dad paid for some accommodation in a hotel for us which helped us greatly otherwise we would have paid for a hostel by ourselves. Also, we got free accommodation in Queenstown because of a booking from my dad. Queenstown is quite expensive and forking out for accommodation here would have hurt the budget because there is no free camping in the Queenstown region.

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The other money we spent on accommodation was a night in Dunedin due to awful weather, a night in Wellington to freshen up and a couple of nights in Auckland at the end. It would have been difficult to do this much cheaper. We were also grateful to have one of Susan’s friends let us stay at her house for one night which really did help our budget.

Food costs

When you look at the total cost of food, it was one of our major expenses. We ate very cheaply on the road and rarely ate at restaurants and cafes. We only did so when Susan really needed some Asian food, I really needed some quality cafe food and we both needed just something comforting. But it wasn’t often. Most of the time we bought groceries from local supermarkets with Pak n Save being our favourite choice because it was so cheap. But still, we spent over NZ$900 on food during 34 days in New Zealand and it was tough to do it much cheaper unless we just ate rice and tofu for every meal.

We ate out rarely, but when we did, we made it count

We ate out rarely, but when we did, we made it count

Cost of activities in New Zealand

Activities are where you can really blow the budget in New Zealand with things like bungy jumping costing hundreds of dollars. HUNDREDS! So we chose VERY carefully and had to skip some things we would have liked to do like climbing on the glaciers. In the end, we chose to cruise on Milford Sound where we got half price tickets through our Jucy Campervan rental, soak in hot pools near the glaciers, see some kiwis at a Wildlife Centre (rip off), tour through Waitomo Caves and walk around a couple of thermal parks around Rotorua. To be honest, that was enough. We could have saved money by not doing these things, but they were fun. Of course, most people would probably do many more activities and that would add massively to this expense. We spent NZ$328, but it could very easily have been NZ$1500 or NZ$2000. EASILY.


Milford Sound is definitely worth the cost

Milford Sound is definitely worth the cost

Transport costs in New Zealand

Of course transport was always going to be our biggest expense. Mainly because petrol is expensive in New Zealand and the fact that we hired a van for so long. We got a bargain on the van with it only costing NZ$24 per day to hire. But we averaged about NZ$50 per day in petrol! New Zealand looks small, but you do travel quite long distances every day and this adds up to increased petrol costs. One of the advantages of staying in a place like Queenstown for a few days is that you save a lot on petrol. Anyway, the total of transport costs came to NZ$2059 over the 34 days which did inlclude a few buses in some cities. We booked directly through the Jucy Campervan website, but we now know of a site that can get better prices by comparing all the different companies. It’s probably best to try them out first to see if they can do a better deal. They’re calledย Camper Hire Australia.

Our transport costs were largely due to this jucy van!

Our transport costs were largely due to this jucy van!

Miscellaneous expenses

The miscellaneous column is a catchall for everything else we spent money on such as a modem so we could access the internet on the road, postcards, parking, some showers and a couple of rain ponchos when we had to walk around a thermal park in the rain. Overall we did quite well in this section and you could do it much more cheaply if you didn’t buy the modem/internet.

So over the course of 34 days we spent NZ$3753 which is a lot of money — NZ$110 per day. But long-term travel in Western countries is extremely expensive and cutting down the costs is very difficult to do. Could you do it cheaper? Probably. But for us it would not have been fun to cut down costs much further as we would have had to live at a standard we aren’t used to.

We had a great time in New Zealand. If you have any questions about our expenses, just leave a comment!ย If you want to know how much it costs to do a similar trip in Australia, we wrote an article aboutย Australia travel costsย as well.

Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Desra Mansyur says:

    when is the best time to travel to new zealand? how to get informations on backpacking travelling for a family with 2 kids?any website to search hostels for family?that’s it for now ๐Ÿ™‚ thank’s

    • Adam says:

      @Desra – The best time to travel to NZ depends on whether you want to see snow. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you want to see snow, you should travel between May and September. If you don’t like to be cold, you should travel in Summer. We are currently writing a book about NZ, but it won’t be released until maybe July or August. ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps if you have some questions, you could ask in our forum http://www.pergidulu.com/forum/ We can then tweet your question to our followers who might be able to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Also, try looking at hostels through this link – it’s a pretty good wesbite.

      • Desra Mansyur says:

        hi,
        In New Zealand, which city should should i go first? Should I go south or north? Is it too cold in June-July? I plan to go there in 10 days and I know it won’t be enough. Any suggested cities and activities or should i just get your book? please inform me when it’s on the store ya. thanks a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Adam says:

    @Desra – if you only have 10 days, I would just go to the South Island because it is much more beautiful. In June/July it can be very cold, but that is one of the reasons it can be so beautiful there – snow on the mountains and in some towns.

    Fly into Christchurch and then hire a car or if you want a more adventurous time, hire a campervan (or even get on a tour bus) and then hit the road. Take in Lake Tekapo, Oamaru, Dunedin, Queenstown and Milford Sound. That’s probably 10 days right there ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Carol says:

    Do you think it is safe for lone female traveller to explore the south island?

    • Adam says:

      @Carol – Yes, New Zealand is a safe country. I’d even go so far as saying that most countries in the world are safe for lone female travellers. As with any situation in your own country, go with your instincts.

  • CEREA GIANCARLO says:

    DEAR FRIEND, SORRY TO DISTURB YOU BUT I AM SURE YOU CAN HELP ME. SIGNLE AND INDEPENDENT BUDGET TRAVELLER, 65 YEARS OLD ITALIAN MAN, I PLAN A 10 WEEKS VISIT TO NEW ZEALAND FROM 4 OCTOBER UNTIL 15 DECEMBER. WILL FLY TO CHRISTCHURCH AND VISIT FIRST SOUTH ISLAND FOR ONE AND A HALF MONTH , AFTER THAT I WILL SPENT ONE MONTH IN NORTH ISLAND. MY BIG PROBLEM AND QUESTION IS ABOUT WEATHER. IT IS O.K. FOR MY GREAT PHOTOS TO PROCEED NORTHBOUND OR DO YOU SUGGEST VISIT FIRST NORTH ISLAND AND AFTER SOUTH ISLAND? I AM NOT INTERESTED IN SWIMMING OR SUNBATHING OR DIVING, JUST WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE YOUR COUNTRY BY FOOT AND TAKE GOOD PHOTOGRAPHS OF LANDSCAPES, MOUNTAINS, FIORDS,LAKES,RIVERS,NATURE, SUNSETS AND SUNRISES ETC ETC. THANKS FOR YOUR KINDNESS ANSWERING ME

    • Susan says:

      I really don’t think it matters which part you do first as New Zealand is beautiful at all times of the year. Perhaps there will be more snow on the southern mountains early in your trip, so perhaps head south first and then north after that.

  • Maria says:

    If I use bus pass when i travelling to NZ, which is better : stray bus, kiwi bus or magic bus ? When should I buy the bus pass ( i want the cheapest price) : before I go ( buy on line ) or after I arrive there ?

    • Susan says:

      They all have similar services. If you know which ‘package’ you’ll choose, you can contact them by email and reserve your booking. But if you want to make it flexible, buy whenever you see the cheapest price.

  • Maria says:

    If I go to NZ in July or August, what are interesting/beautiful places i should go ? Do you have any suggestions ?

    • Susan says:

      Mountain areas are nice because it would be snowy. Queenstown and most places in South Island are very scenic in july/aug.

  • ita says:

    How about the laundry? Any laundry coins or something?

  • sandra surya rini says:

    im planning to visit south island first in nz, whats the best city to start up with? is it better to arrive in queenstown first then drive to christchurch, or better we arrive in christchurch then we do christchurch loop (christchurch- queenstown – back to christchurch)? which one do you prefer according to time and budget saving? thank you

  • regina Cendrakasih says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’m planning to go to NZ around November – January. Which place is the best view and attraction?
    And how much the cheapest ticket all around from CGK?

    Thank you

    • Adam says:

      Bisa beli buku saya aja untuk info lengkapnya. Cari di Gramedia: Wisata Hemat New Zealand (Panduan Jalan-jalan Hemat ke Negeri Hobbit).
      Tiket murah cek di Skyscanner.

  • sandra surya rini says:

    im planning to visit south island first in nz, whats the best city to start up with? is it better to arrive in queenstown first then drive to christchurch, or better we arrive in christchurch then we do christchurch loop (christchurch- queenstown โ€“ back to christchurch)? which one do you prefer according to time and budget saving? thank you

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