New Zealand by the Month: March 2016

I’m starting my monthly recap series after just 2 weeks. I want to give an overview of my year in New Zealand month-by-month as a way to catch up with where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what the month ahead looks like. I also want to keep track of my budget here to be as transparent as possible. The reason I’m starting just 2 weeks in is because it makes the most sense to post at the end of each month, rather than at the end of my monthly marks (which would be on the 17th of each month). This is also a great time for me to take a hard look at my spending so I can see where I need to make changes in the future.

What Happened:

I arrived in New Zealand on March 17th. I spend a few days in Auckland, mostly to check some things off of my to-do list and to get some things out of the way (opening a bank account, applying for my IRD number, etc.). I left Auckland and went up north to Paihia and the Bay of Islands. I spent 4 days there and I didn’t want to leave. It was so beautiful and so relaxing. It’s a (admittedly touristy) beach town with a laid-back vibe. I met some great female travelers there and it just felt like such a home-y place.

I headed back to Auckland for a second time, not because I wanted to go back to Auckland, but because it was almost impossible to find accommodation anywhere else on such short notice. It was Easter weekend and most of the places I wanted to go were booked up. I spent 3 more days in Auckland, one of which was spent on Waiheke Island. I loved Waiheke—I toured the island and spent a few hours at a vineyard. Unfortunately I was left with a nasty sunburn, and I’m currently dealing with the unpleasant effects of that.

I left Auckland on Easter Monday to head to the Coromandel Peninsula. I spent 2 nights in Coromandel Town, where I “splurged” on a private room ($65/night). The town is small and quiet, not much to do. But it was nice to see it anyhow. That brings me to where I am now: Hot Water Beach.

Hot Water Beach is on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s popular with tourists because within a few hours of low tide, you can dig into the sand and create your own personal thermal pool. It’s also near Hahei Beach and Cathedral Cove. I’m not here just to dig into the sand—I’m here because I got a job! I wanted to find a job as quickly as possible upon arriving in New Zealand so that I could save a little more money before continuing my travels.

Looking Forward:

That brings me to what’s in store for the month of April: I will be living and working here on Hot Water Beach for the next two months (until the end of May). I’m working as a housekeeper at a holiday park and I have my own private cabin on the property. It’s certainly not a glamorous job, but making money to travel is always my number one priority, so I’ll clean as much as I have to if someone is willing to pay me. Plus, this place is so beautiful, it’s worth it.

Now that I’m settled in and have a bit of time on my hands, I will be catching up on blog posts and showing you guys everything I’ve seen thus far. It’s not much, considering I’ve only been in NZ for two weeks, but I do have plenty to say. As for my budget…

Monthly Budget:

Accommodation: $486 NZD / $335 USD

Transportation: $185 NZD / $127 USD

Food & Drink: $229 NZD / $158 USD

Tours/Attractions: $92 NZD / $63 USD

Toiletries: $42 NZD / $29 USD

Laundry: $23 NZD / $15 USD

Misc: $35 NZD / $24 USD

Total Spent: $1,092 NZD / $754 USD

My biggest expense was accommodation—luckily I won’t be spending much on that the next 2 months since my “rent” will be very low. Food & drink is, not surprisingly, the next largest cost. I did eat restaurant meals a few times and I bought way too many beverages (as in juice and iced tea, no alcohol for me just yet). Transportation mostly included bus rides from one city to another, but there are also some ferry fares in there. This month’s “misc” category includes $25 for a cell plan and $10 for wifi.

I don’t think I did too bad spending wise, but I know I could do better. Next time I head out, I will try to be a little more frugal here and there, mostly so I have a little extra to spend on attractions/tours and fun things.

New Zealand by the Month March 2016

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By Courtney Minor

Wandering around and writing about it.


  1. This is perfect! I am starting to plan a working holiday in NZ hopefully starting in October. I’m definitely going to spend the next couple of days reading your recaps and posts 🙂 Most blog posts I’ve seen about moving to NZ have been couples or groups of friends, it’s nice to read about a solo traveller for a change (I assume it was solo but I might be wrong ha) Thank you thank you thank you xx


    1. Yes, I was doing it solo. That’s awesome that you’re doing a working holiday–you’ll have so much fun! I hope my posts are helpful for you. I still have SO much to post from NZ over the coming months haha If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me! I’d be happy to help as much as I can. 🙂


  2. I’m headed to NZ next week to start my working holiday and your packing list has been so helpful, thank you! I have no immediate plans when I get off the plane other than a few touristy things for the first couple weeks. I’m starting to get pretty anxious, as I am used to planning EVERYTHING out. Are you glad you started working so early or wish you traveled some more first? I’m not sure if I want to settle down right away for a couple month with a job. Thanks!


    1. Hi Lyndsey! I’m glad my post could help. Originally, I didn’t plan to start working right away–being fresh off the plane, you’ll probably be super excited to go see EVERYTHING like I was. I wanted to travel first, but I kept my eye on the job boards just to see what was available. I applied for a couple of jobs, not really expecting to take either. But when one of them seemed to be a great option, I decided to just take it. I am glad I started working so early because it gave me time to save up some more money before traveling around the country. If I had traveled first, I would have run low on money pretty quickly and felt super stressed about finding work. However, I am glad I didn’t take the job offer that wanted a 6 month commitment. That would have been too long, but a 2 month commitment worked out perfectly for me. I think it really depends on your budget & what you feel comfortable with. I will say that this time of year is best for getting a job while the peak season is still in motion–in 2 or 3 months, it might be harder to find work. Let me know how it goes, or if you have any other questions! (you can also email me directly)


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