I’m not even going to pretend New Zealand is a cheap country to travel through. Well, to backpack through anyway. You have to plan a little to save money when travelling in New Zealand.
But it’s absolutely beautiful, so you have to visit.
If you’re used to the likes of bagging £7 dorm beds and £1.50 street food from backpacking South East Asia, you’re going to be in for a little shock in New Zealand.
That’s not to say that it’s a rip off or that you should avoid coming to New Zealand, though.
It just means you will need to do a little more saving, allocate a higher budget and be a bit more cautious with spending whilst you’re there. It is for this exact reason that the majority of backpackers will get a working holiday visa when travelling through countries like New Zealand and Australia.
I will do a separate post on what you should budget for travelling New Zealand, but first I’m just going to give you some money saving tips to ensure you cut as many unnecessary corners as you can.
Here are my top tips for saving money in New Zealand:
1. Stay in hostels.
There’s no doubt about it – hostels (unless you do coach surfing or similar) are the cheapest way to bag your own little bit of space and rest your head. Obviously they’re not for everyone and even if you do fancy a little more privacy than a dorm, hostel private rooms are usually still cheaper than checking into a hotel.
When you’re in as beautiful a country as New Zealand, you’ll want to minimise time in your room and maximise time in the mountains. Accommodation is a perfect component to cheap out on and save money in New Zealand with.
Hostel beds in New Zealand cost between $27-35 dollars per night.
Check out these posts on my blog for more information and inspiration:
2. Head to hostels for happy hours.
Going out and drinking is one way to very quickly blow your budget in New Zealand. Drinks aren’t cheap, and true to backpacker lifestyle, you’re probably going to want more than one. Most hostels will have in-house bars, in which they will run deals MADE for backpackers… i.e. cheap drinks. The cheap drinks may be restricted to a particular time or it might be just one free drink. Either way, make it work and lap up the freebies.
A pint in NZ is about $6-8 NZD and a mixer around $7-10. Hostels usually run deals on each of the two for about $5.
3. Predrink from the Bottl-o.
If your hostel doesn’t have a bar, it is possible they will allow you to pre-drink in the rooms. If so, WINNING. Buy alcohol from the supermarket or Bottl-o and start your night in the room. There are however a lot of dry hostels in NZ (hostels that restrict you from having alcohol in your rooms), so be careful!
4. Water bottle (note: you should drink a lot of water).
It really is the little things that add up. Like buying pop or bottles of water every day. Pennies are precious and so investing in a reusable water bottle is going to save you so much money in the long run. Having fresh water on you is also great for staying hydrated, not confusing hunger with thirst (saving money on food) and with all the outdoor activity in NZ, you will most definitely get the use out of it. Not to mention the environmental impact!
If you want to invest in one of my favourite travel accessories, shop my thermal water bottle here.
5. Shop in the bigger supermarkets.
Head to the bigger, cheaper supermarkets when you can. A lot of the towns in NZ are pretty small, with just one or two supermarkets. Supermarkets then have little competition and know that you don’t have much choice but to buy from them, so they whack up the prices. Pak N Save is like a Costco (dotted all over NZ) and was one of the cheapest places I shopped in.
6. Take time to observe supermarket products.
What’s cheap to buy at home won’t necessarily be cheap in each country or region of NZ. So don’t just buy what you would at home. In England, for example, you can get 3 peppers for 79p, whereas in Queenstown it was $3.99 for ONE.
Check out what vegetables are seasonal and work out what your cheapest purchases are. In NZ kiwis, pumpkin, carrots and avocados are amongst the reasonably priced items.
7. Voucher and website deals.
New Zealand offers incredible activities and food options, but again, they come at a price. If, like me, you can’t deal with FOMO and want to see, do and eat as much as possible, then these websites will help you achieve exactly that. Find exclusive deals, discounts and even ideas on these bad boys:
8. Buy food and cook.
As much as the Subway or Pita Pit around the corner from the hostel is tempting… buying groceries and cooking your own meals will pretty much always work out cheaper. If you want to save money, it’s going to require a little bit of work.
9. Make use of vouchers in hostels.
A lot of hostels will team up with local restaurants and businesses to offer backpackers discounts or deals. Some hostels will tell you about these when you check in, some don’t. Make sure you pop to reception and ask the staff or browse the reception area for any deals you can use.
Base in Taupo, for example, had free chips with a burger purchase in Burger Fuel… every little helps!
10. Double check online for cheaper hostel deals.
Take time to search online to check hostel deals and discounts and compare prices. Turning up to an activity or accommodation on the day is the easiest option, but add in a little more effort and you could definitely save yourself some dollars.
11. Use public transport or Kiwi Experience if going solo.
Don’t hire a car if you’re travelling solo and want to get around on a budget. Petrol prices, car rental, insurance, toll fees and parking costs will add up. Instead consider using the public buses like Intercity and Stray or even joining the group experience buses like Kiwi Experience.
12. Avoid taxis; use Intercity or Uber.
Taxis are the biggest drain on your budget. If you want to save money in New Zealand, you’re going to need to walk as much as you can. Otherwise check out Intercity options or download Uber. (Yes, they have it in New Zealand!) Use 1l08a for £10 off your first Uber ride.
13. Book transfers online.
If you’re heading to the airport, for example, and don’t have a group of travellers to share a taxi with, don’t get one. They will work out cheap if you’re going in a group, but solo – bye bye budget.
Instead, just like I did, google ‘shuttle transfers from airport to *city*’ and see what services are on offer. I used SkyBus to get from Auckland City to the Airport and visa versa on the way back. If you buy it on the bus it is $18 each way but if you book online you can get a $30 return which saves you $6.
14. Get active.
Engage in all the world class and mind blowing landscapes NZ has to offer. Most of the walks and viewing are free and there’s enough to occupy you for years. Bring your trainers and get outside!
Great way to stay active and healthy when on the road too!
If you use these tips and tricks for saving money in New Zealand, then you will have maximum budgets to spend on those once in a lifetime activities like sky diving over Lake Taupo, jumping the Nevis Bungee in Queenstown or hiking the Tongariro Crossing.
Considering you’ve come out of your way to get to New Zealand and you probably won’t be returning anytime soon, I don’t want you to pass up on the activities and things you’ve always wanted to see… because of money.
Use these tips, plan your budget, save hard before you fly out and go make the best memories in the world!
Have you been to New Zealand?
What are your money saving tips for New Zealand? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,