Travel Tips: How Expensive Is New Zealand?


New Zealand is a backpackers paradise with it’s two main islands packed with adventure, adrenaline sports and stunning sceneries. But with such beauty can come a hefty price tag! For the budget conscious backpacker, New Zealand can seem like a challenging place to make every single dollar stretch, but with the introduction of working holiday visas, more and more travellers are moving their way through the country and saving money as they go!

After being in New Zealand for almost a year, I thought I would break down some of the most common expenses you are likely to encounter to help you budget your trip!



Depending upon what type of visa is suitable for your trip (working holiday, tourist visa, business etc) and what country you are from prices vary. Here’s a link to help you find costs and eligibility requirements to meet your needs!


Easily every travellers biggest expense wherever you are in the world; accommodation costs in New Zealand are not cheap! But with a bit of forward thinking and searching on the web you can normally come up with a deal!

Hostels are the most popular choice for backpackers and a shared dormitory will set you back on average $25-35 per night. With double rooms following behind anywhere from $ 70-150 per night it can sometimes be cheaper for couples to shell out a couple of extra bucks for some privacy!

We find all of our hostels at HostelWorld however if you are booking extremely last minute you might want to do a quick google search and give some places a ring!


Camping is another popular options especially for those with a car and wanting to get back to nature! Freedom camping is allowed in some areas and is obviously free! Elsewhere you can find campsites ranging from $10-30 per night for a site with full access to the campsites facilities.

Airbnb is of course my favourite but can pack a financial punch here in New Zealand! It is always worth checking out as we have found some great little gems tucked away for a good price! You can get $30 off your first trip with Airbnb by signing up here.

Food & Drink:

Most travellers will opt for the self-catering option when they are on the go so supermarkets shall become your playground! The most popular being Countdown, Pak n Save, New World and FourSquare.

Here are some price examples for your staples:

500g of pasta: $1

Jar of pasta sauce: $2.50

Kilo of Banana’s: $2-4 (depending on the season)

Cheap bread: $1

If you are buying a lot of fruit and veg then always opt for the smaller veggies shops which offer lower prices!


Every backpacker needs to treat themselves every now and again with a nice meal and a pint. But eating out can put a dent in your budget if you are not careful! Try and spot the cheap $10 lunch specials dotted around town but if you can’t find anything to tickle your fancy then a main course will normally set you back around $20-30.

Alcohol is something else you will have to budget for if you’re partial to a few pints or a glass of wine. Heading to the bottle shop is always a cheaper option!

Drinking in a bar/restaurant:

Pint of Beer: $10

House wine (per glass): $8-10

Drinks from a bottle shop:

Bottle of wine: $7+

Case of 24 beers: $30 (minimum)

Espresso Coffee: $4-5 (For the morning after)


There are a tonne of ways you can explore these gorgeous lands whether it be by car, bus or plane! Which option you pick will of course depend on your budget but here are some rough price guides below.

Hire some wheels!

Seeing New Zealand by car is by far the best way to go with so many hidden gems lurking down gravel roads which public buses just can’t get to! You have to options here; buy your own car/campervan or hire one! As their are absolutely no car manufacturers in this country, car prices are super high and for a decent car which will get you around the whole country you are looking to put away around $5,000. You can then go on to sell the car nearing the end of your trip but make sure you give yourself ample time to do so!

Driving in New Zealand

Hiring a car is your other option. We normally go through Rent a Dent an prices with them can range from $30-50 per day for a standard automatic car without additional insurance!

Campervans are a popular options as you get your transportation and accommodation in one, but expect to pay around $100 per day for a hire!

Travel by bus!

With the exception of a few car hires here and there we travelled around primarily by bus! It was the cheaper option for us and there are a few companies you can go for!

We used NakedBus and if you know you’ll be using the bus a lot, you can pick up a NakedPassport for a great price which gives you a set amount of trips you can take within a year! Knowing that your transportation is paid for up front and you don’t have to worry about it takes a load off your mind so you can spend more time exploring and having crazy adventures!

There are loads of other options too such as Intercity and Kiwi Experience being the big contenders (along with some smaller bus lines to get you to more remote locations when needed)


If that’s not cheap enough for you then why not try your hand at hitchhiking? It’s insanely popular in this part of the world and you can even check out the time Scott and I gave it a go in Kaikoura!


Domestic flights are another option is you are short on time with JetStar and Air New Zealand being the two big airlines here. IF flying is something your considering you may want to sign up for their mailing lists as they tend to have random flash sales of $1 seats now and again!

Ferry between the North and South island!

Getting from the north island to the south island without flying leaves only one option; the ferry! Costing around $65 for a one way trip between Wellington to Picton or vice versa. You can find cheaper deals on sites such as Nakedbus who offer the ticket for around $50!


So what exactly are you going to be doing whilst you’re here? From long tramps to adrenaline fuelled activities, there really is something for everyone!


Lots of other travellers I have had the pleasure to meet along my journey have normally set aside a certain amount of money for particular activities. You can spend a lot of money in this country so if you are on a budget it might be wise to have some key activities in mind to help you set aside some cash to splash on things you really want to do!

Some examples:

Bungee jump in Queenstown: $275

Shotover jet: $135

Auckland war museum: $25

Kayak hire in Wanaka: $15 per hour

Parasailing: $100

Bike hire: $30 per day

Milford sound cruise: $70 for a 2 hour cruise

Have you been to New Zealand? What money saving tips would you pass onto people wanting to explore on a budget?

Need some more inspiration for your trip to New Zealand? Check out my YouTube channel packed full of vlogs and tips!!

Hi! Name’s Aly! Originally from Birmingham, England, I have been discovering the world for over 3 years straight. I am a psychology graduate with a love for Pho and red wine. Whether I throw myself into a novel or from 14,000ft up out of a plane, I look at adventure big and small and say “Let’s do this!”
  • Jemma Stanley

    As someone who lives here (not by choice!) I would stay away from Auckland as much as you can, after seeing the sights and beaches for a few days. We’re about to move to Dunedin for the lower cost of living and proximity to the beautiful Queenstown. If you’re here for a while definitely buy a cheap car, you can get something semi reliable for under $3,000 and sell it for practically what you paid later 🙂

  • This guide is very useful and complete. You answered all my questions I was wondering about.