New Zealand is famously one of the most expensive countries in the world and if you’re travelling for an extended period of time, it’s so easy to blow a huge chunk of your savings there. But don’t worry – it is possible to keep your New Zealand travel budget under control! Here, I’ll break down the costs of our 18 day New Zealand road trip before going into a little more detail at the end about why we made some of the choices we did.
All prices are in NZ dollars and based on peak season travel (mid Jan – early Feb). This also excludes flights in / out of NZ as well as our internal flight from Wellington to Christchurch.
Accommodation = $545
We stayed in a mix of private hostel rooms, holiday parks and Airbnb during New Zealand road trip. As we travelled in peak season, and over a bank holiday weekend, a lot of places were booked up so we had to plan almost everything in advance. However, it was a blessing in disguise because it was completley unplanned that we ended up glamping under the stars but it was one of the best things I’ve ever done!
To find the best deals, we would check out booking sites like Hostelworld, Expedia, Agoda and Booking.com along with Airbnb and good old Google – many holiday parks have their own websites where it’s cheaper to book direct. Plus, they often have 4-6 bed rooms at the same price as a double so if you’re travelling in a group, these are a great money saving option!
Average nightly cost per person = $30
For those looking at hostel dorms, you can expect to average around the same amount.
Transport = $395
Coming in at our second biggest expense was transport – no surprise for a road trip! I’ve broken it down into the following categories:
- Car hire: $200
- Fuel: $100
- Public transport: $95
We used public transport sparingly for things like our Tongariro Crossing shuttle ($30) and getting to / from the airport.
Fuel is way more expensive here than in Australia so be prepared if you’re used to those low prices!
Alternatives to car hire include campervan hire, hop-on hop-off bus passes and actually buying a vehicle. We looked in depth at the costs of renting a car / accommodation vs hiring a campervan but – perhaps because it was peak season – the campervan option came out at quite a bit more pricey. Bus passes are great ways to meet people but we really wanted the flexibility of being able to take off as and when we pleased.
Average daily cost per person = $22
If there’s three or four of you renting a car, this daily cost could be slashed to $10 / $15 per person.
Food = $329
Eating out here is generally cheaper than Australia but it’ll still put a huge hole in your New Zealand travel budget if you aren’t careful!
- Eating out: $250
- Food shopping: $79
We ate out more than we planned and definitely could have saved here. Take advantage of the kitchens where you stay and a cooler is a great investment if you’re moving around a lot. For eating lunch on the cheap, most towns will usually have a bakery where you can get a hearty pie for around $4.
We also barely drank alcohol in NZ so if you’re big on nightlife, expect this cost to rise!
Average daily cost per person = $18.70
Activities = $161
Depending on what you’re interested in, budgeting for activities in New Zealand can be super expensive. We loved NZ for the scenery so ended up doing a lot of hikes and national parks are free! Take advantage of this and you’ll have a fantastic time and some amazing pictures to go along with it. The main things we paid out for were pretty chilled:
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves: $50
- Polynesian Spa Rotorua: $29
- Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park: $32
- Wanaka Puzzleworld: $20
If you’re an adrenaline junkie however, this is the place for you. From skydiving and bungee jumping to white water rafting, glacier hiking and skiing, you really are spoiled for choice. I’m just far too much of a wimp to even consider jumping out of a plane! Adventure activities can cost from $70 to upwards of $500 so be prepared to shell out the big bucks if this is your thing.
We had originally planned a kayaking trip in Milford Sound that would have added $150 on top of this cost. However, problems with the weather and our timings led us to cancel this and switch around our itinerary to avoid a 7 hour drive before flying to Bali. Beyond anything else though, New Zealand is absolutely stunning and you could have the best time without spending a penny by doing a ton of walks – particularly in the South Island. Some of the most beautiful places we saw were driving Arthurs Pass and hiking Roy’s Peak in Wanaka.
Other = $30
Our incidentals were pretty small but include a wifi pass, laundry and some shopping.
Total spent = $1460 / Average daily cost = $81.10
At the current exchange rate of 1 NZD : 0.58 GBP, this equals a grand total of £847 or £47 per day!
From the start of our travels, Jamie and I knew that we wanted our money to stretch as far as possible. We also knew that a lot of our friends on similar trips wished they had saved more money to spend longer travelling in Asia. For us, this meant budgeting hard in pricey countries like Australia and New Zealand.
It was a challenge at times – we love eating out. But we have already noticed how much further our money will go since being in Indonesia and the country is so naturally stunning that we didn’t feel like we missed out on anything. You can definitely do it even cheaper or blow thousands in a few short weeks – it all depends on what you want to get out of your experience! But for anyone worried that you can’t travel cheaply here, I want to reassure you that it is possible to see New Zealand on a budget.
If you have any questions, I’ll happily try to help or just let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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