Blessed with breathtaking landscapes, New Zealand attracts travellers including backpackers so here are top tips for travelling around New Zealand on a budget
Rugged mountain ranges, pristine beaches, an adrenaline-pumping outdoor scene and famously friendly locals, all combine to make New Zealand the destination choice of a lifetime. You needn’t be minted to see the country in style. With a little budget-savvy trip planning, it’s possible to explore the Land of the Long White Cloud without breaking the bank.
Slash the cost of your trip in half by shunning hotels and opting for alternative forms of accommodation. Backpacking is hugely popular in this super-safe country, with countless funky hostels dotted across big cities and popular tourist spots. If you don’t mind roughing it then pack a tent – or, for a marginally more comfortable night, find a free sofa to crash on through a couch-surfing site such as Couchsurfing.com. Another way to win ‘free keep’ and make some local mates at the same time is to try WWOOFing. Standing for ‘Willing Workers On Organic Farms’, this involves offering a few hours of your time each day in return for gratis bed and board with a local farming family.
The classic way to see New Zealand on a shoestring is to cycle around the north and south islands – cycling is perhaps the most adventurous way to explore this superlatively beautiful country. But if you aren’t a fighting fit traveller, consider sharing a campervan with your mates. A campervan is a fantastic means of cutting accommodation costs and giving you and your mates freedom to roam at the same time. If you’re staying in the country for any length of time, buying a van on arrival and selling it when you leave could be a better option. Alternatively, shun car hire altogether and use the economical InterCity bus service to get from A to B.
Save on food
Food and alcohol are both at a premium in New Zealand. Eating out regularly will quickly deplete your budget, so cook for yourself wherever possible. Grocery shops in smaller towns tend to be expensive – plan ahead to stock up at bigger supermarkets, with the cheapest prices on offer at Pak’N Save, Countdown and New World. If you’re in the market for a boozy night, look for backpackers’ bars offering happy hour for bargain drinks. Staying in a hostel? Many offer cheap deals on local restaurants and bars, which are well worth checking out.
Activities on a budget
There are endless ‘must-do’ experiences on offer across New Zealand, from bungee jumping over Queenstown to wine tasting on Waiheke Island. It’s easy to get sucked in by the hype and blow a millionaire’s budget on pricey activities, but some of the best things to do around the country are free of charge. See the largest living Kauri tree, mosey round the Auckland Art Gallery, breathe in the eggy aroma at Kuirau Park’s bubbling mud pools or relax in the hot thermal springs at Taupo’s natural spa park. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike around Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, or tramp Queensland’s Ben Lomond Track. With so many natural attractions to wonder at, there’s no need to damage your bank account.
Before you go, check out:
- New Zealand country guide
- Queenstown city guide
- Wellington city guide
- Christchurch city guide
- Auckland city guide