Lonely Planet places a cheap New Zealand travel budget at $130 per day or less, but to me that seems pretty steep. Last week we road tripped around the North Island, we placed no budget restrictions on ourselves but instead tried to be value conscious without too much sacrifice, so we stayed in a mix of dorms and private rooms, and balanced eating out once a day with cooking for the other two meals.
Daily budget broken down per person per day:
Total Per Day: $99
How we could have saved money:
We could have cut our food budget right back, choosing to cook all our own food. We often didn’t plan meals ahead or pack lunches and since most of our activities involved being active in some way we let our stomachs lead us into the nearest takeaway shop.
Accommodation was another one where we could have easily saved money. There are plenty of hostels around for $25 a night (even in peak season) but after Hiking the Tongariro Crossing we just needed to stay in a private room at $110p/n to rest up and sleep in.
Our activities cost per day was pretty good for New Zealand. We made much of our own entertainment checking out free local attractions and going hiking, seeing natural New Zealand and keeping the packaged tourism to a minimum.
Our cost of fuel per day may be lower than yours; we have a really small car and there’s only the two of us to transport.
Souvenirs: How could we say no to a new mask for our collection?
It surprised me how much it all adds up. I already own a car in New Zealand so even considering our low cost of transport we spent far more than the $60 a day I’d predicted. We didn’t watch our budget at all, choosing to enjoy ourselves and do what we wanted, so I guess that’s the trade-off. But I do think that travelling New Zealand on $50-$60 a day is totally doable with a little spending mindfulness.
Possible budget for travelling NZ on $60 a day:
Cooking own meals: $10. At 5-7pm supermarkets discount much of their meats and onsite baked breads to try and shift them before the end of the day, same goes for hot pie and sushi shops in the late afternoon
Dorm bed at backpackers: $25. Other options are camping, sleeping the odd night in the car or couch surfing, mix it up.
Transportation: (varies) Naked bus have 10 trip passes that work out to be $8 per day over 4 weeks. If you’re planning to buy and then sell a second hand car then fuel will be close to my $10 a day shared fuel cost (assuming you sell the car for near what you paid for it).
Activities and souvenirs: $15
Most days think free and cheap activities; hiking, renting bicycles, swimming at the beach and generally exploring nature, then you’ll have money for the occasional spurge on those unforgettable experiences.
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