New Zealand is an expensive holiday destination. With that said, don’t be shunned away from the beautiful country. It is possible to travel to New Zealand on a cheap budget.
I travelled to New Zealand for two weeks during the winter holidays in July with Aaron. We visited Auckland and Queenstown, both cities being notoriously expensive tourist destinations but we made it. Below I outlined how we budgeted for each component.
**Disclaimer**: These prices may not be applicable in this time period. Also everyone’s perception of budget is different. This is how I travelled as cheaply as possible within my comfort zone. I didn’t want to stay at a hostel but rather an apartment/home. If you decide to stay in a hostel, it will be much cheaper for you!
Flights will make up a large portion of your budget so it is good to get airfares out of the way first. You tend to get cheaper deals three months before your departure date for international flights. For domestic flights, the sweet spot is between three weeks to a month before your departure date.
You also need to consider peak and off-peak seasons. The peak seasons for travelling to New Zealand is during the school holidays and the winter months. New Zealand is the prime southern hemisphere location for snow action. If you don’t really like the snow, you can look into off-peak periods to save some coin. If you are going to New Zealand for the wintry temperatures and snow, expect higher airfares.
I booked our July flights with Latam airlines and Jetstar during the beginning of April so I was able to get the best peak flight deals. I was a little sceptical about booking with Latam since I’ve never flew with them but the experience was good. Highly recommend them.
Flight costs (prices all in AUD per person):
- Sydney to Auckland via Latam airlines: $203 (20kg checked in luggage and meal included)
- Auckland to Queenstown via Jetstar: $130 (20kg checked in luggage included)
- Queenstown to Sydney via Jetstar: $260 (20kg checked in luggage included)
Total airfare: $593 per person
Not too shabby if I might say so myself.
Flight costs may vary considerably depending on the country/city you live in.
Another large portion of your budget will go to accommodation. If you are travelling on a budget, instead of chain hotels, try AirBnb. Not only are many of the homes aesthetically pleasing and in great locations, it is cheap. It is totally free to sign up with AirBnb if you haven’t ready and PLUS, with my referral link, you can get AU$50 in travel credit for your first stay!
AirBnB not your thing? Try hostels or if you have a friend in the country you are visiting, opt to stay with them (if they are cool with it).
We spent a week in Auckland where we stayed in an AirBnB apartment that offers city views while being located on the fringe of the CBD so it wasn’t too noisy. After that, we spent another week in Queenstown where we stayed in a spacious caravan with a newly renovated bathroom we found on AirBnB. It sounds a little weird but the experience was A+ (and it was private as it was in an enclosed space).
Accommodation costs (prices all in AUD):
- Auckland AirBnB: $613
- Queenstown AirBnB: $663
Total accommodation for two weeks: $1276 or $638 per person
Eating out in New Zealand isn’t cheap. I’d say it is the same price as eating out in Sydney, maybe a little more. Groceries are more expensive but of course, cheaper than eating out every single day.
After spending a whopping NZ$14 on an oatmeal breakfast (which was lovely), we went to the local Countdown for groceries. For Australians, Countdown is equivalent to Woolworths – same branding, same logo, different name. I am not too sure why that is. Anyways, we bought the essentials including a bag of delicious oats and almond milk to make oatmeal every morning for less than $0.20 per serving. Sounds much better than the $14 equivalent.
I must add that fruit and vegetables in New Zealand are rather expensive. To avoid straining your wallet, opt for frozen vegetables and fruit on sale.
Food cost (price in AUD for two people for two weeks): $500
The best budget friendly transport is with your own two feet but we know that is not always possible. The second best is by bus. The bus system in New Zealand is so efficient and travel-friendly. A one way ticket is usually around NZ$3.50-$5 depending on where you are heading.
If you need to go to places that are not on the bus routes, an Uber is a safe option, a touch more expensive than the bus. Lucky for us, we had some friends that drove us around Auckland so we saved in that department.
We had to hire an Uber to go to Auckland Airport which set us back NZ$50, and a shared minivan from Queenstown Airport to our accommodation which cost NZ$25 for both of us.
Transport costs (price in AUD per person): $60
In Auckland, we spent a lot of time catching up with friends. We visited the Auckland Zoo which is one of the better zoos I have visited. We also visited the Barista Cat Cafe located in the CBD. As the crazy cat lady I am, this was the happiest hour of my life. Now can we just appreciate these cute little kitties!?
Tip: Take advantage of their 2 for $20 promotion every Tuesday to save some cash! Otherwise, it is $15 per person inclusive of 1hr playtime with the cats, and a tea or coffee.
Other than the zoo and cat cafe, we did free and cheap activities such as hiking up Mt Eden to exploring the CBD and catching a ferry.
In Queenstown, we joined a Jucy Tour to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and definitely worth the visit when in South Island. We travelled via a heated coach and made several pit stops along the way to appreciate the scenery and snow capped mountains.
Total cost for activities/tours (Prices in AUD per person): $220
- Sim card with 3gb data for two weeks: AU$25
- Souvenir: AU$15
Grand Total: AU$1,750
For a two week holiday in New Zealand, a grand total of AU$1,750 was great in my opinion, especially since we travelled during peak periods. We are the type of people who enjoy the scenery and atmosphere rather than extravagant evenings and adrenaline activities. That probably saved us lots of money but we definitely made our stay very pleasant.
I hope these budget tips will make your travels to New Zealand amazing.