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How much money do I need to travel to New Zealand?

23rd January 2020

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?

Transport

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

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. 

Food

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. 

Activities

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. 

Pre-departure expenses

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! 

How much does a trip to New Zealand cost?

Step 1

Enter your destination (New Zealand)
Let us know how long you'll be away
Choose your currency. In this case, it will either be NZD or AUD
Start counting down to some fush 'n' chups! You've officially started your holiday budget.

Step 2

Did we mention New Zealand is blessed with incredibly fresh produce, and their culinary scene is world-class? Expect everything from high-end city restaurants, to farm-to-table dinners and corner store fish and chips. Both the food and prices are pretty similar to Australia; however, you are more likely to eat out while on holiday as opposed to cooking at home. When budgeting this section, be sure to put yourself in a holiday mindset, as you will generally opt for some fish and chips over a supermarket salad. 

Step 3

In this section, estimate how much you plan on shopping while in New Zealand. In cities, you'll be able to find a store to suit all of your shopping needs. In coastal or rural towns, head to the main street and wander through cute boutiques.

Step 4

This is for all of your transport outside of flights and cross-country travel. In major cities, there will be buses, trains and ferries. Each city operates differently, so pop on Google to see what prices to expect in each location. 

Step 5

The hard work is done! Here you'll find a simple layout of your planned expenses in both Australian and Kiwi dollars. From here you can either go back and edit, or start saving for your holiday!

It's important to note here that this only accounts for your most basic expenses. You'll need to add in travel insurance and other daily expenses. It's also worth having a bit of wiggle room in the kitty for unexpected costs, like a last-minute decision to skydive in Queenstown, or a trip to Hobbiton. 

Australian Budget Examples

Here are some examples of what the bones of your travel budget would look like. Please note all of these examples are based on seven nights of accommodation and are quoted in Aussie dollars. Prices will, of course, vary with seasonality and availability. 

Couples trip

This couple plans on landing in Auckland, hiring a campervan and tripping around the North Island at their own pace. 

Flights

$280 per person

Sydney to Auckland return with Jetstar.

Accommodation

$680

Camper with shower, toilet, gas stove and amenities and a week’s worth of fuel (estimate). 

Food

$100 per day

The camper allows you to shop at a supermarket and cook most meals, though you’ll still want some extra cash to enjoy local restaurants and bars. 

Activities

$100 per day

A few drop in fees for different attractions and a wine tour here and there. 

Total for couple 

$2640

Less than 3k for a week exploring New Zealand’s natural beauty at your own pace. 

 

Family getaway

Mum and Dad are treating the kids to a week of skiing and adventure in Queenstown!

Flights

$1560

Sydney to Queenstown return with Jetstar. 

Accommodation

$2848

Two bedroom apartment in the heart of Queenstown. 

Food

$200 per day

A few dinners out here and there, but you’ll want to cook most of your meals and grab supermarket snacks so more money can be put towards activities. 

Activities

$400 per day

Four day ski passes and hire for the whole family, plus a visit to the Gondola and luge on rest days. 

Total

$5808

The kids won’t stop raving about their epic holiday in Queenstown. 

 

Solo traveller

This lucky vagabond is heading to Wellington to explore the surroundings, eat their way through Cuba street and make the most of the iconic NZ city. 

Flights

$380

Sydney to Wellington return with Air New Zealand.

Accommodation

$150

Bunk in a city-centre hostel with breakfast included. 

Food

$50 per day

Buy your food from the supermarket to cook in the hostel kitchen, and splurge a few dishes from Cuba street with a beer every now and then. 

Activities

$50 per day

A few day tours out of the city, however most of your time will be spent pounding the pavement and soaking up the local vibe. Don’t forget to visit Te Papa museum!

Total

$1230

Travel isn’t as expensive as you originally thought!

 

Last-minute tips

  • Rideshare apps are generally far cheaper than taxis, though they may not be available in smaller towns. 
  • Tipping isn't necessary or expected. If you do feel like leaving a tip for particularly excellent service, there is often a communal tip jar that is divided between the workers. Alternatively, just let the cashier keep the change.
  • We recommend splitting your budget so that 70% is on a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass and 30% cash. Though, you can honestly get by with just a card if necessary, as almost everywhere is card friendly.
  • There are ATMs everywhere, so if you do need cash, it won't be hard to come by.
  • When paying with your Currency Pass, make sure you choose to pay in the local currency (NZD) instead of AUD. It will save you paying extra fees.
  • Research your 'per day' budget and include the things you want to do. Once you know the costs, you have a savings goal to work towards.
  • Take advantage of Travel Money Oz's Best Price Guarantee. If you find a better price from a competitor, we will beat it*.
  • Hostels are a great way to save cash and meet like-minded travellers.
  • Check out reviews if you think something is too good to be true. Chances are it might be.
  • Tourist attractions will always have higher prices.
  • Queenstown is a popular city and prices are higher as a result.
  • 'Mountain pricing' is a thing, so expect to pay more in ski villages and resorts.
  • Don't forget to factor in pre-travel costs like travel insurance, immunisations and visas.
  • If you're hiring a car, don't forget to pay your tolls or risk a fine!
  • Sign up for Rate Alerts. We'll let you know when the AUD is doing well against the NZD so you can purchase and maximise your travel money.
  • Take cash with you on a night out, that way you won't get too tap-happy, and there is no risk of losing your travel money card.
  • Do the Bungy jump; we promise you won't regret it.
  • You legally can't spend more than $5 with just 10c pieces 

Flight costs are based on search from www.flightcentre.com.au and are indicative costs only for travel dates 4 - 11 August 2020. Prices were sourced on January 20 2020. ^Accommodation costs are based on an average per night price for budget, moderate or luxury hotels, as indicated in the table. ~Food based on the average cost of 1 coffee, 1 fast food meal and 1restaurant meal per person, per day. COST COMPARISON TABLE: All costs are based on estimated approximate costs from major metropolitan cities. "From" costs indicate costs that start from the indicated price and may be higher than shown. Average prices indicate a typical estimated cost you would pay for the indicated item. Prices may vary from time to time, and in different cities and towns within Hong Kong. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.