New Zealand has something for everyone: powdery-white snow, majestic mountains, misty laneways, delicious food and, of course, Middle Earth.
Aussie's are blessed by being so close to New Zealand. They are like a cousin across the Tasman, ready to welcome us with open arms, rolling green planes and plenty of sheep. Our proximity means we have a lot of things in common; however, there are a few quirks that can confuse a traveller planning their first New Zealand adventure. One of these being, of course, the dreaded travel budget.
The team at Travel Money Oz have made this part easy for you with our nifty travel budget calculator. The clever robots combine the daily exchange rate with Numbeo data to estimate your daily travel budget while in New Zealand. Before we dive straight into calculations, though, let's check out what is included in a Kiwi travel budget.
What goes into a travel budget for New Zealand?
If you're on the East coast, quite often it's quicker to get to NZ then it is to visit Perth. Flights across the Tasman are relatively cheap and range from $100 (absolute bargain) to $1000 (ouch, either you're coming from Perth or are travelling during peak times). Flights will generally be more expensive in school holidays, and during the ski season; outside of that, you should be able to snag a bargain.
Once you arrive in New Zealand, there are a few cross-country travel options.
Flights: fly between major cities for a relatively small cost with airlines like Jetstar, Air NZ and Virgin. If you're in a rush and have a little extra cash to splash, this is your best bet.
Trains: New Zealand boasts an incredibly scenic train ride between Auckland and Christchurch that stops at several towns and cities. The trains are slightly more expensive than flying; however, the level of service and scenery you are treated to is of a far higher quality.
Buses: Areas not covered by the rail network are well connected by buses that cover both islands. Bus passes will vary in price based on the distance, so do some research to compare the options for your journey.
Car hire: Driving through New Zealand is one of the most popular means of transport, with travellers revelling in the ability to take things at their own pace. Both car and campervan hire is very affordable in New Zealand, and the road rules are similar to Australia, so there is no need to be nervous about driving.
In individual cities, transport options will range between buses, trains, ferries and trams. Public transport is very affordable, just research what is recommended for the specific city you are visiting. If you are choosing to drive, ensure your accommodation either includes parking or has parking nearby.
Smaller towns will naturally have fewer transport options, but the beauty of their size means you can probably rely on your own two feet to get around.
Accommodation options in New Zealand are pretty similar to Australia in terms of quality and pricing. As you would expect, bigger cities have options for all travel styles and budgets with countless hotels, hostels and Airbnb's. Travelling further afar to smaller towns will reduce your choices; however, you're often greeted by petite bed and breakfasts, or bespoke cabins and accommodation options.
Popular tourist cities like Auckland and Queenstown are more expensive than other cities, such as Wellington and Dunedin. Regardless of where you are, be sure to check for the following:
- Is it close to public transport?
- If you are driving, do they have parking included or nearby?
- Is breakfast included?
- Does the room have kitchen facilities?
If you are choosing to hire a van or camper and drive around either island, you're in luck as there are countless free or low-cost campgrounds. Freedom Camping is an excellent site with corresponding apps that outline where all of the campsite and campgrounds are, as well as their relevant facilities.
Just like accommodation, the cost and quality of food in NZ is pretty similar to Australia. Every town will have some sort of pub or corner restaurant offering comfort food like burgers, fish and chips and steaks. You will also find plenty of more expensive restaurants dishing up high-end cuisine and culinary delights in the more populated cities like Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. Wellington, in particular, is well-known for its cuisine served in the famous Cuban street.
New Zealand's seafood, especially their salmon and green-lipped mussels, are a must-try. It's worth doing some research to find a place that is well-reviewed for the seafood dishes so you can make the most of the fresh produce.
Finally, if you are on a budget or aren't keen on eating out for every meal, there are plenty of supermarkets for you to stock up on everything you need. Choosing accommodation with a kitchen will definitely help lessen food-related costs while in New Zealand. Also, remember you're on holiday though and are less likely to want to cook, so make a reasonable goal like eating supermarket breakfasts and snacks to save cash.
As we mentioned above, New Zealand offers an activity for every traveller. Bustling cities like Auckland and Wellington have a great mix of culture, cuisine and history to enjoy. Adventure capitals like Queenstown and Rotorua will have you packing your days with adrenaline-filled activities. If you're seeking tranquillity and a chance to get amongst nature, be sure to add Milford Sound, the Bay of Islands, Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier to your itinerary.
Activity choices will vary based on seasonality. Queenstown, for example, is a hot spot for snow sports in Winter before transforming into an adventurers paradise in Summer. If you're keen on learning more about activities in Queenstown, we've written a complete guide that is worth checking out.
Regardless of where you go, it is definitely worth having an idea of your preferred activities in advance so you can budget accordingly. Adrenaline pumping plans like bungy jumping and skydiving can take a substantial chunk out of your travel budget. The same goes for day tours to Milford Sound, Hobbiton and the glaciers - all setting you back a few hundred dollars. If you are keen on including these experiences in your itinerary, add them in your daily costs and ensure you have enough time to save so you aren't left scrambling for cash while on holiday.
Aussies don't need a visa for New Zealand as a tourist; however, it is worth chatting to your doctor if you have any medical travel concerns. Don't forget travel insurance as well, a must for all travellers regardless of the destination!