Tips to Discover New Zealand on Budget

tips to travel in new zealand

Listen up! Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? We’re going to tell you something, and not everyone will. Traveling through New Zealand is expensive. Well, that’s only if you aren’t aware of budget tips and tricks that’ll help you get by without breaking the bank.

Don’t give up on your dreams of backpacking or renting a campervan through New Zealand. Just because other people say New Zealand isn’t cheap doesn’t mean that you have to experience the same thing.

We dedicate the rest of this article to giving you some of the best little-known tips that’ll help you save some money while trekking through NZ and learning about the rich, Maori culture.

1. Couchsurfing and Hitchhiking

Unless cash isn’t a big deal, you want to save as much of it as possible and spend it on meaningful activities that’ll bring you joy. Hitchhiking is the cheapest way to get around New Zealand, and the best thing about it is, that it’s free.

Also, Couchsurfing is an exciting way to get free accommodation and mingle with the locals.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind, you could try WWOOFing. All you have to do is ensure you have a working holiday visa, and you’re on the way to working in exchange for board.


2. Avoid Peak Season

During the peak seasons running from December to February, prices that are already high skyrocket. If you have a tight budget, you should avoid this time. In any case, there are many tourists around this time, and most places are crowded.

However, if you absolutely cannot avoid it, all you have to do is go right ahead and look forward to enjoying your holiday during the warm summer months.

travel seasons

3. Rent a Campervan

Renting a campervan in New Zealand comes with costs such as fuel and ferry levies, but it’s way cheaper than staying at a hotel. In any case, you have the freedom to explore and linger as much as you can without thinking of hotel restrictions, such as limited serving times.

You can also cook your food how you like it since campervans come fully loaded, rather than spending all your cash eating expensive hotel meals. If you have more people in your troupe, you’re likely to spend much less money than you would be booking hotel rooms.

👉 At the beginning of 2023, we created a guide with the best tips for renting a campervan, you can check it out here: 17 Best tips for renting a campervan in New Zealand

tips for renting

4. Do Part-Time Relocation Rentals

Why don’t you consider relocation rental if your budget is tight? Campervan rentals always need their vehicles transported back from either the South or North Islands from where the customers drop them off. You could be the perfect individual for the job.

Approach a campervan rental company and ask how it works. Think about the free campervan: You won’t pay rental fees or for the rental company’s ferry tickets given to you. Don’t forget to inquire whether the company will pay for fuel because some don’t.

The best thing about working for a relocation rental is that you have some free time to linger and enjoy NZ’s scenery and sights as you travel.

👉 We have compiled a guide about relocations, you can find it in the following article: Campervan relocations in New Zealand 

5. Think About the Size of Your Vehicle

Gas isn’t cheap in NZ, so you should ensure the vehicle you choose has excellent gas mileage. It might be lovely having a spacious campervan to yourself, but if you have a large car, the amount of money you spend gas on will be a lot.

If your budget is constrained, you have the option of renting a smaller vehicle and staying in hostels or camping in tents.

campervan sizes

6. Cook for Yourself and Eat Cheap Meals

You have to try eating only at fast-food joints. The food is cheap, and there’s a variety of it. Also, if you’re looking at saving money, try to cook most of your meals. That way, you can make yourself healthy meals while saving tons of money.

Sometimes cooking your meals can’t be easy, there are plenty of campervan recipes you can look up. They are quick, easy, and delicious. If you don’t want to cook, you can stock up on ramen noodles or some simple sandwiches to keep your energy levels up.

👉 If you want to know more about the food in New Zealand, you can check this article: Kiwi Cuisine Adventures – Trying New Zealand’s Most Unique Foods


7. Drink More Wine

Seriously, though, if you’re one for some nice adult beverage, you might be disappointed by the high beer and liquor prices in NZ. On the other hand, if you are a wine lover, you’re in luck since wine is cheap in New Zealand.

But, if you think the wine is cheap because it’s low quality, think again. New Zealand is abundant in vineyards, so you’ll have many options to choose from when it comes to vino.

📍 In early 2021, we created a guide with lots of tips for backpacking in New Zealand, and as of date of today still up to date. We review it every 6–12 months with updates and useful links.

👉 If you want to look at it, we are sure you will find it essential for your trip — 40 Tips for Backpacking in New Zealand


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