New Zealand can be a fairly expensive country to travel around, especially in comparison with Asia. However there are a few things you can do to keep your budget down. Here are a few suggestions:
One of the most expensive aspects of travelling around New Zealand has to be the activities. Skydives, white water rafting, zorbing etc – it all adds up. A great website to check out is bookme.co.nz. They offer great discounts on an array of activities from bungee jumps to spa trips. And the savings can be large. For example I booked black water rafting via bookme and saved $100!
For a developed country, free wifi is surprisingly hard to come by. Most hostels, hotels and campsites seem to charge for wifi, and usually by the MB/GB. These charges add up during your time in NZ so it’s worth knowing where you can get it for free.
By far the best place I found for free wifi is Warehouse (a homewares store with many locations throughout the North and South Island). The wifi is super quick (by NZ standards anyway), and there is no cap on how much you can use. Additionally you can have a cheeky browse without actually buying anything.
Other options include McDonalds (sometimes didn’t work), libraries (free but slow), New World supermarkets on the South Island (fast but capped) and iSites (not always free). Also some of the bigger cities (Wellington, Christchurch, etc) have free wifi areas in the CBDs.
All the major supermarkets seem to offer money off petrol if you spend a certain amount. These range from 4c-10c, and can sometimes be used in conjunction with petrol station offers. Some vouchers allow you to use them throughout the country, but Pac N Save specify the petrol station attached to the supermarket, so make sure you fill up after shopping.
Shop at New World
Before arriving in NZ I’d heard that Pac N Save was the place to shop in order to save money. Although I did find some bargains, it wasn’t much cheaper than New World (and sometimes it cost more!) I found New World to be a more pleasant shopping experience, plus on the South Island they had a discount card, which tourists can use to make substantial savings. Additionally there were some incredibly tasty foods on offer, meaning I was more likely to cook for myself than eat out.
In New Zealand food shopping is different to the UK. Rather than shops having own brands, all the supermarkets seem to stock the same products. Meaning there is not much variation in price. For example the budget brand bread can be found in New World as well as Pac N Save, and is generally the same price. Watch out for Countdown though – they do have their own value brand (Woolworths Home Brand) but for some strange reason everything tastes like banana!
Some of the best campsites I stayed in were run by the Department of Conservation, and these were all incredibly cheap. A standard DOC site costs $6 and often has flushing toilets and under cover eating areas. A DOC campsite in a more scenic area costs $10 but are generally right on the beach or nestled beneath the mountains so well worth the cost.
I have heard some suggestions that it is possible to camp in DOC campsites without paying, as the payment is made by an honesty box. I would encourage you not to do this. The DOC does a great job and is chronically underfunded. Please don’t take advantage of their trust. Pay the campsite fee – it’s really not a lot for the services they provide.
Cooking Your Own Food
This one sounds simple but with all the great food options in NZ it can be tempting to eat out a lot. I attempted to ration myself to 1-2 meals out a week, and cook everything else myself. This saved me tons of cash – average meal out costs $20 whereas cooking dinner myself was about $5. You can see how quickly that adds up!
This one probably depends on how fussy you are regarding tea and coffee. Personally I always thought of myself as a coffee snob, but let’s face it, it’s a pain in the bum using a cafetière in the back of a car. So I succumbed to instant coffee but was initially buying real milk. The milk itself wasn’t cheap, and the ice to keep it cool was a nuisance. In the end I just went for coffee mate that lasted for ages and did not require refrigeration. It’s also alright in tea and hot chocolate. Give it a try!
Hopefully these tips will also help you save money while travelling around New Zealand. If you’re interested, check out my post about buying and selling a car in New Zealand here: