After living in kiwi land for over 4 months, I feel I know enough and have made enough mistakes to show you guys how to travel and live in New Zealand on a budget. The price of living is high and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Prices are similar in some areas to those of Australia but with minimum wage being significantly lower, you will scratch your head by how fast your money will go!
So, here are a few tips to bring down the costs!
Countdown is your go to supermarket in New Zealand with massive stores across the country, you can pick up absolutely anything you can imagine. However, like with most countries, New Zealand has an alternative for those wanting to save a few bucks. That alternative is Pak n Save.
Scott and I tried it out and we went twice and never returned. Pak n Save is basically a huge warehouse stock pilled with food and cheap meats. However, when we actually looked, some tinned good were around the same price as Countdown.
Backpackers and locals alike will go to Pak n Save for one reason, the fresh produce section is unbelievably cheap. But with cheap meats, cheap veg and cheap cheese. Do not expect the meat to taste great or the veg to last very long.
We aren’t snobs, we are backpackers and the meat we purchased turned my stomach. The colour, the smell, the amount of water and fat which poured out of it when it got thrown into the saucepan. Yikes!
So, what do you do? Well, we stick to countdown for now but like to get our fruit and veg from little Asian owned markets and always try to buy your meat from a butcher! The quality will be impeccable and because you can literally ask for one sausage, you will save a fortune as a solo backpacker!
The most common accommodation option for backpackers are hostels and they are everywhere! It is hard to find super cheap ones so if you are staying for the long run (like on a working holiday visa) then you may want to opt for a share house.
The biggest website to use when looking for shared accommodation is TradeMe. A New Zealand based website which sells, well, anything and everything! However, as a couple, Scott and I had a few hurdles to jump during the process.
Most spare rooms are unfurnished. Yep. Now you’re asking, where the hell do we get furniture? Well, even though you may find the odd place which is furnished, it is unlikely and you will have to have some extra doe to get yourself at least a second hand futon!
We stayed away from shops such as Warehouse or Target furniture as they are all new and pricey. We headed to the Red Cross furniture shop over the road from our house and looked for a bed frame, willing to buy the mattress new. For obvious reasons. When we went in, there was a Queen sized bed and brand new mattress going for $250. Not an expense we had factored in but it had to be done. We then found a desk for me to work being thrown out by our neighbours and they said we were welcome to it and voila. We have a walk in wardrobe so luckily that wasn’t a problem!
When it comes to the legality of it all, most landlords who rent to backpackers just ask for a couple of weeks rent in advance (sometimes a bond as well) but no contract. You just pay month to month!
Give yourself extra time to find a place to live! We also found that lots of listings won’t rent to couples! So it took us around 2 weeks to finally move into a place!
I’m going to break this section down into local transport and long distance options!
Depending on your budget there are a lot of options to getting between and around both islands. If you opt to go for a good old fashioned bus ride then your options are ManaBus and NakedBus. Both offer incredible $1 offers on their seats (yes, you heard me) and even if you miss the $1 deals, then their normal prices are incredibly low!
If you need to fly then jump onto Skyscanner or Google Flights to check out the best deals, with Air New Zealand and Jet Star normally offering the lowest fairs!
Renting a car or buying a van is by far the best way to see New Zealand. The complete freedom to drive at your own pace and stop off anywhere you want! Rent a Dent is an awesome option with cars starting at $20 a day, we don’t use anyone else!
Auckland is probably one of the easiest cities to get around in for it’s size, with boats, trains and buses running frequently throughout the city and it’s suburbs. If you do plan on staying in Auckland for a while, make sure you pick yourself up a Hop Card to save a tonne of travel costs! Plus it’s more convenient then sorting out change for every trip you take!
New Zealand is the land of natural beauty… and free things! Why pay to stay inside a museum when you have some of the words most incredible landscapes right in front of you? Long day walks, thermal springs and mountain views are all free and are not hard to come by!
The cost of living is high as I have already mentioned however, if you start earning the New Zealand dollar it doesn’t hurt your bank account so much when you’re earning $16per hour.
A pint of cold beer will set you back on average around $10 and obviously buying your alcohol from a bottle shop is considerably cheaper. However, on a good note, kiwi’s love their happy hour so look out for some good deals if you want to save a few bucks when you’re out and about! To get the best deals, try finding some local backpacker bars or see if your hostel has a bar before you book!
If you are a smoker, then you will not like the prices of tobacco out here! Even more expensive than Australia as the government are trying to crack down hard on people smoking a 50g pouch of tobacco will cost you around $70 (MINIMUM)… I’l let that one sink in.
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