If you’ve stumbled on to my travel blog looking for a way to travel New Zealand on a budget, you’re in for a treat.
This article is for the travellers who are looking to travel New Zealand free and easy yet on a budget.
If you’re looking for a way to travel New Zealand cheap, make sure you get your pen and paper and bookmark this article, because I’m about to provide you a whole lot of details about how much a trip to New Zealand may cost and how to bring your New Zealand trip cost to a minimum.
Whether you want to backpack around New Zealand or do a free-and-easy road trip in New Zealand, this article offers practical information and detailed cost breakdown to help in your New Zealand trip planning.
“Is New Zealand expensive to visit?”
“How much does a trip to New Zealand cost?”
“How expensive is New Zealand, really?”
New Zealand is high on everyone’s bucket list because of the gorgeous scenery, the astounding hikes, the adrenaline activities, yet the seemingly high New Zealand vacation costs put many off.
Together with 3 others, I visited New Zealand’s North and South Island in May 2016 for 20 days as part of our graduation road trip. I was surprised at how little we spent in the 20 days we spent there!
I later went back to New Zealand in November 2017 for the Queenstown Marathon as part of a press trip, and subsequently stayed for 6 months on a working holiday program. That’s how much this country fascinated me!
I love it so much I regard New Zealand as my second home, and it is my goal that you fall in love with this country the same way I did through my New Zealand travel blog articles.
Through living in New Zealand for half a year, I’ve learned that it is actually possible to travel to New Zealand on a budget!
Hopefully you’ll be able to leave this article with some New Zealand travel tips to help you make your New Zealand holiday more affordable!
- New Zealand Trip Cost – Budget Breakdown
- Best time to go to New Zealand
- A. Flights to New Zealand
- B. Getting around New Zealand
- C. Accommodation in New Zealand
- D. Cost of living in New Zealand
- E. Attractions in New Zealand
- 20 Favourite New Zealand Instagram Shots To Swoon Over (& Where To Find Them!)
- 9 Best Hostels in Queenstown, New Zealand
- New Zealand North Island Experiences To Check Off Your Bucketlist
- TODAY – My New Zealand Feature is Out!
- FAQ on Working Holiday in New Zealand for Singaporeans – 3. Accommodation
- FAQ on Working Holiday in New Zealand for Singaporeans – 1. Getting There, Preparation, Administration
- New Zealand On A Budget – How I Spent $2600 in 3 Weeks!
- 2018 In Review – Being my own boss, living abroad, personal growth
New Zealand Trip Cost – Budget Breakdown
How much a New Zealand trip will cost really depends on the time you visit New Zealand.
Nobody could believe me when I said I spent less than NZD 15/day for food, lived on NZD 20/day in hostels or that I rented a campervan for NZD 50/day for 4 of us when we did our trip to New Zealand!
Flying was also less than SGD 400 one way from Singapore to New Zealand. Unbelievable? It’s true, I booked with budget airline Jetstar!
This brought my entire 20-day New Zealand budget trip to SGD 2565/ NZD 2700.
We still had a whale of a time visiting the classic New Zealand spots such as Hobbiton, and surely we couldn’t miss some of New Zealand’s adventure attractions, like blackwater rafting or Fox Glacier hike? 😉
(SGD 1: NZD 0.95)
Here’s a cost breakdown according to how much we spent in each island:
Total cost in the North Island
Total expenditure for 7 days: NZD 623 (NZD 89/day)
Total cost in the South Island
Total expenditure for 10 days (with campervan): NZD 535 (NZD 54/day)
Total expenditure for 6 days (without campervan): NZD 472 (NZD 79/day)
Below I share a breakdown of our trip according to transport, food, accommodation, attractions and living expenses so you can get an idea of what the typical cost of living in New Zealand is.
Best time to go to New Zealand
The cheapest time to visit New Zealand is during their winter off-peak season, which occurs in the middle of the year.
Visiting New Zealand during this period also means that you can find cheap accommodation and cheap car rentals all around New Zealand!
A. Flights to New Zealand
We started planning our trip to New Zealand very early on and monitoring flight prices from Singapore to New Zealand.
I’d like to think that we manage to find one of the cheapest ways to get to New Zealand. It might be something you could consider doing if you’re trying to backpack New Zealand and don’t mind flying budget and not flying direct.
Our flights stopped by Australia, which gave us a perfect excuse to stop in Australia and fit in a couple more days of holiday!
Here’s how much I spent taking budget airlines from Singapore to New Zealand:
|Category||Details||Amt (SGD)||Amt (NZD)|
|Transport-Flight||SG – Auckland Jetstar +15kg||$399.06|
|Transport-Flight||Wellington-Christchurch Jetstar +10kg||$58.79|
|Transport-Flight||Christchurch – Melbourne Jetstar +15kg||$176.66||$182.00|
|Transport-Flight||Melbourne – SG Jetstar +15kg||$303.62||292 AUD|
Total for return flights: SGD 938.13
B. Getting around New Zealand
The best way to travel around New Zealand is undoubtedly with a car. There are plenty of car rentals in New Zealand, and you can undoubtedly get cheap car rentals in New Zealand when you travel during the off-peak period.
Don’t get me wrong – car rentals in New Zealand are not always the cheapest. We got a really good deal because we went during the off-peak period in May just when it was starting to get colder.
Besides, a New Zealand road trip is the ultimate way of enjoying the spectacular nature views!
That said, we did get around by public transport at some point during our New Zealand trip. You can get an overall sense of how much it costs to rent a car, a campervan and if you went by the public bus below.
Transport in the North Island
Getting around by bus: NZD 150
Transport in the South Island
Campervan rental: NZD 500 (NZD 50 per day)
Petrol: NZD 550 for 272L, 1623km
Car rental in Christchurch: NZD 395 (NZD 79 per day)
Petrol: NZD 62.39, 31.37L
Parking in Christchurch: NZD 2.50 all day
C. Accommodation in New Zealand
As I’ve mentioned earlier, travelling during off season offers a lot of chance for travelling New Zealand on a budget.This includes cheap accommodation all around New Zealand! It’s an important consideration as it brings down the cost of living in New Zealand by a lot.
Just look at how much we spent living off hostels around the country:
Accommodation in the North Island
|Location||Category||Details||Amt (SGD)||Amt (NZD)|
|Rotorua||Accom||Rock Solid Backpackers Rotorua||$17.10||$18.00|
|Lake Taupo||Accom||Haka Lodge @ Lake Taupo||$24.70||$26.00|
|Hamilton||Accom||Backpackers Central @ Hamilton||$20.90||$22.00|
Average per night: NZD 22
Check prices on HotelsCombined, Agoda and Booking.com.
Accommodation in the South Island
|Location||Category||Details||Amt (SGD)||Amt (NZD)|
|Fox Glacier||Accom||Ivory Towers hostel||$24.70||$26.00|
|Haast||Accom||Non powered site||$11.40||$12.00|
|Te Anau||Accom||Te Anau Kiwi Holiday Park||$19.95||$21.00|
|Queenstown||Accom||Motorhome powered campervan site||$19.00||$20.00|
|Lake Tekapo||Accom||Holiday Park Non powered site||$17.10||$18.00|
|Christchurch||Accom||Airbnb 3 + 2 nights||$82.25||$86.60|
Average per night (with campervan): NZD 19
While we slept in the campervan, we still had to pay a small fee for parking at camp sites.
Average per night (without campervan): NZD 17
As a rule of thumb (if you’re not staying in a campervan), the cheapest accommodation options are hostels and Holiday Parks. In general, even the cheapest hostels in New Zealand are decent – clean, spacious, with enough privacy and with a kitchen.
If you’re travelling in a group (more than 2), you might want to consider Airbnb as it might be more cost-effective to rent a whole place than to book 2 rooms.
Here are other ways to save on accommodation.
D. Cost of living in New Zealand
NZD 4 per load
MSIG TravellerShield: SGD 78.50
The above is a Singapore insurance. If you’re not from Singapore, I’d recommend World Nomads, an established travel insurance for anyone from any part of the world. They have really comprehensive coverage as well as good service, so you’ll see many others recommending them as well.
Get your quote here:
New Zealand food prices are generally quite expensive if you eat out. If you don’t and cook your own meals instead, you can set yourself up for about NZD 3 to NZD 5.
Restaurants in NZ: ~ NZD 11
The cheapest food you can find would probably in fast food restaurants.
- McDonald’s Sausage Egg McMuffin: NZD 4.90
- Subway’s Meatball Sub: NZD 4.50
You can keep your food costs down by shopping in supermarkets such as Pak’n’Save, which would bring cost to ~ NZD 5 per meal.
Below is a breakdown of how much I paid travelling the North island and South island respectively.
NZD 13 per day
NZD 14.50 per day
This includes the occasional splurge on Fergburger, but most of our food were home-cooked since we were living in the campervan.
E. Attractions in New Zealand
What’s New Zealand if we don’t splurge a little and discover the classic New Zealand attractions like Hobbiton, experience hot springs of the North or go on a little glacier tour? Better yet, see the glacier from up above with a helicopter! Would you say you’ve been to New Zealand if you don’t bring home some Manuka honey?
For ideas on where to go in New Zealand, you can check out the activities that we booked ourselves on. Further, here are my other articles for what to do in the North and South Islands:
Here’s a breakdown of the cost of some of the attractions that we did in New Zealand.
|Location||Category||Details||Amt (SGD)||Amt (NZD)|
|Matamata||Tour||Baggage deposit @ iSite||$4.75||$5.00|
|Waitomo||Tour||Blackwater Rafting||$- *||$-|
|Rotorua||Tour||Maori Whakarewarewa tour||$- *||$-|
|Rotorua||Tour||Zorb 350m @ Ogo||$47.50||$50.00|
|Rotorua||Tour||Locker @ Polynesian Spa||$1.19||$1.25|
|Taupo||Tour||Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland||$30.88||$32.50|
|Fox Glacier||Tour||Helihike @ Fox Glacier Guiding Co||$- *||$-|
*Disclaimer: Tours were provided complimentary in exchange for a review. Read more about my experiences:
- Black Water Rafting in Waitomo, New Zealand
- Traditional Maori Village in Rotorua, New Zealand
- Fox Glacier, New Zealand – What’s It Like Hiking On Ice?
- What Exactly Happens When You’re Skydiving at 15,000 Ft in Taupo, New Zealand?
Evidently, a free and easy New Zealand vacation need not cost you much at all. Hitchhiking and Couchsurfing are big in this country as well. This explains why so many people (especially the Germans) like to backpack in New Zealand – it’s the surest way to travel New Zealand cheap!
Fresh out of university, this was our graduation trip. Hence, we set out travelling New Zealand on a budget. We compromised on Wi-Fi on-the-go, expensive food and comfortable lodging. That being said, we wanted to maximise our experiences, which called for splurging on some attractions. Learning about the Maori culture and hiking on ice at Fox Glacier are some of the most eye-opening experiences that were worth every dime.
There really are plenty of free things to do in New Zealand as well – the vast nature offers some of the best hiking trails, you can go fishing (or skinny dipping), camping and more.
Part of the reason why flights to New Zealand and car rental in New Zealand were cheaper was also because we travelled during the off-peak periods in May.
If you’re still hesitant about visiting New Zealand, DON’T.
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