Travel Tips Working Holiday

The Cost of Traveling New Zealand: How Much Do You Really Need?

The Cost of Travel in New Zealand

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I spent most of 2016 living and working in New Zealand. If you’re new here, well, now you know. Since I spent so much time there, I wanted to give you a detailed look at the true cost of traveling New Zealand.

I had a series called “New Zealand by the Month” where I posted a budget breakdown every single month during my trip. I thought it would be helpful to combine those expense reports and get some detailed stats out of it. After compiling all of that information, I’ve been able to create a FULL expense report for my 10 months in New Zealand.

New Zealand is an expensive country all around, both for tourists and for residents. That doesn’t stop people from visiting, though, and it’s actually a really popular destination for backpackers. Saving up money and creating a budget is a big part of planning any trip. Before you go, you’re probably going to wonder: How much does it cost to travel New Zealand?

I left the U.S. in March of 2016 to start my working holiday in New Zealand. My working holiday visa allowed me to live, work, and travel in New Zealand for up to one year. I left the country in January of 2017, so I spent about 10 months there in total.

My specific circumstances definitely have an impact on my expenses, but I’m going to break things down so you can figure out how much money you need to travel in New Zealand, whether it’s for one month or one year.

How much does it REALLY cost to travel New Zealand? Find out how much money you need for your trip.

Notes on the Cost of Traveling New Zealand

  • The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
  • 1 NZD = .72 USD / .61 EUR / .91 AUD (as of October 2017)
  • Food prices in New Zealand are one of the highest in the world. This is due to the small population and geographic isolation, as well as the high demand for New Zealand-grown foods in Asian countries. This results in price-y food in both supermarkets and restaurants.
  • New Zealand is far away from most places in the world. Unless you’re flying from Australia or Southeast Asia, it’s likely the cost of your flight will be very high.
  • If you’re from the USA, Canada, UK, etc. (as many of my readers are), you’re probably used to relatively cheap wifi. Well, get used to paying (a lot) for wifi in New Zealand. Unlimited wifi plans aren’t the norm here, so you will be paying by the MB/GB.
  • If you will be working while you’re in New Zealand, you can expect to make a minimum of about $15.75 NZD/hour. This is pretty typical for hospitality jobs.

Typical Travel Expenses in New Zealand

I created a list of prices of some typical travel expenses. This includes the average costs for accommodation, transportation, and food. Prices range quite a bit on most items, but generally you can expect to pay on the lower end during low-season, and on the higher end during peak season. These are average prices based on my personal experience, and research compiled in October 2017.

Hostel (Dorm Room): $18-$30

Motel Room: $100-$130

RV/Powered Site (Campground): $20-$25

Campervan Rental (Daily Rate): $35-$75

Bus Fare: $25-$40

Ferry from North to South Island: $55

Meal at a Café: $12-$20

Pint of Beer or Glass of Wine: $8-$11

*You can find prices for most attractions & activities online. Decide what you want to do before going to New Zealand so you know how much to budget (and then add a little bit extra).

Find out 13 ways to cut down on costs in New Zealand

My New Zealand Budget Breakdown

I kept detailed notes about every single thing I bought & every penny I spent while in New Zealand. My goal was to be able to create a post like this, but doing this also helped me see where all of my money was going. It’s always a good idea to track your spending while traveling.

Initial Costs

These are my upfront costs—all of the things I paid for before I flew to New Zealand.

Airfare: $835 USD (one-way ticket)

Insurance: $180 USD (learn more about New Zealand travel insurance here)

Visa: $0

I transferred $2,500 USD to my New Zealand bank account before arriving. When I landed in New Zealand, I had around $3,400 NZD.

(My initial costs will not be reflected in my final expense since these costs vary so widely.)

The best way to transfer your money overseas

Overall Expenses

These numbers are a compilation of my entire 10 months in New Zealand. This is meant to give you an idea of how much I spent in New Zealand on a working holiday. I created categories based on the main expenses, and this does include EVERYTHING I spent. I’ll break the numbers down further in other sections.

Transportation: $1,487 NZD

Accommodation: $4,715 NZD

Food: $3,843 NZD

Communication: $735 NZD

Activities: $683 NZD

Drinking: $550 NZD

Shopping: $520 NZD

Toiletries: $507 NZD

Laundry: $89 NZD

Coffee: $165 NZD

Medical: $120 NZD

Total Spent: $13,414 NZD

It cost me $13,414 NZD to travel in New Zealand for 10 months on a working holiday

I put together a full expense report from one year of traveing in New Zealand! Check out my budget breakdown to find out how much you need to travel in New Zealand.


Flights: $149 NZD

Bus Fare: $940 NZD

Train: $121 NZD

Ferry: $277 NZD

Total Transportation Cost: $1,487 NZD

Take the scenic train from Auckland to Wellington


Hostels: $3,344 NZD

Rent: $750 NZD

AirBnB: $145 NZD

Hotels: $476 NZD

Total Accommodation Cost: $4,715 NZD

Ultimate New Zealand hostel guide


Groceries: $3,055 NZD

Restaurants: $788 NZD

Total Food Costs: $3,843 NZD


SIM Card: $5 NZD

Cell Plan: $150 NZD

Wifi: $580 NZD

Total Communication Cost: $735 NZD


Souvenirs: $315 NZD

Clothing: $97 NZD

Books: $108 NZD

Total Shopping Cost: $520 NZD

Read my monthly recaps from New Zealand

How Much Money Do You Need to Travel New Zealand?

Ultimately, the cost of traveling New Zealand will vary greatly from person to person. It will depend on a few factors:

  • How long are you going to be there?
  • What kind of budget are you on (shoestring, moderate, luxury)?
  • How much do you want to spend on attractions & activities?

These aren’t the only questions you should consider before you head to New Zealand, but they are a good basis for planning your travel budget.

For example: I was in New Zealand for 10 months, on a backpacker-to-moderate budget, and I limited my spending on activities. My overall cost of traveling New Zealand was lowered by the fact that I spent months working, and was given cheap accommodation during those months. It’s also helpful to note that I was traveling alone, mostly by bus, and that I stayed in hostels for all but a few nights.

I spent significantly more during travel months than I did during months when I was working. I spent an average of $689/month when I was working, but an average of $2,088/month when I was traveling. To break it down to a day-rate, I averaged about $69/day during travel months, and around $22/day during work months.

If your travel style is similar to mine, you can budget $70/day to travel in New Zealand.

It is possible to lower your cost of traveling New Zealand even more. If you travel the country working for accommodation (generally referred to as “WOOFing” in New Zealand), hitchhiking, and sticking to free activities, you can massively lower your daily rate. Renting or buying a campervan and freedom camping during your trip can also lower your overall cost, especially if you’re traveling with someone else.

I hope this post can help you create your own budget for New Zealand!

New Zealand Travel Planning Resources:

13 Ways to Travel New Zealand on a Budget

The Best (& Worst) Hostels in New Zealand

Packing List for 1 Year in New Zealand

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Cost of Traveling New Zealand. How much money do you need to travel in New Zealand? I put together typical tourist costs plus my personal one year budget in New Zealand.

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  • Reply
    October 5, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    This is such a helpful article! I haven’t yet visited New Zealand but when I do I plan to do the same as you and work along the way, this post is definitely food for thought when it comes to how much I’ll need to have saved. Thanks! #flyawayfriday

  • Reply
    Bryna | Dotted Line Travels
    October 5, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Thanks for the detailed breakdown! Definitely not the cheapest country to live and travel in. Very cool to see your stats to get an idea of how much it would take!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Wow. That is a really detailed budget breakdown!!! We lived in NZ for a year too. Loved looking at how you laid this out. #flyawayfriday

  • Reply
    October 7, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Impressive breakdown! New Zealand is on my list, but only for a visit. Good to know what to anticipate for expenses. Thanks for such a helpful report!

  • Reply
    Kana Imamura
    October 19, 2017 at 1:34 am

    You have seriously been acing these posts, Courtney! I absolutely love this and find it super helpful since as you know, I’ll be in New Zealand early next year for my honeymoon! Thanks for this! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week! xo

    • Reply
      October 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks, Kana! Can’t wait to join Fly Away Friday again this weekend. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Great rundown on New Zealand costs! My hubby wants to retire there in 40 years so hopefully this will help us plan 😀 I love Queenstown. I hope to go back someday. Hope to see you at Fly away Friday tomorrow 🙂

  • Reply
    Clare Thomson
    November 14, 2017 at 8:12 am

    This is such a useful post. I had no idea that it was so expensive in New Zealand. I can see why you needed to work while you were travelling there. When I went backpacking after university I went to India which was a lot cheaper. I would love to go to New Zealand though – it’s such a beautiful country. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  • Reply
    November 15, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    It makes sense why costs are so high in New Zealand and this is a great reference post for people looking for honest ideas about planning for a trip there. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, cheers from also notoriously expensive Scandinavia!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Absolutly first class review of NZ.
    We have just started to talk obout touring NZ for a month in a hire car which we have done many times in many different country’s.
    As we are both retired & have full intention of seeing as much of the world as we choose.
    Eg 8 times to Asia 6 of those to India, 10 times to America spending up to 3 months at a time touring any one given country eg the whole length of Veitnam & Cambodia & the whole of the East side of India, you get the gist.
    NZ has not been on our “must do list” but we have friends who have been & say its brill.
    We are not sure its for us.
    We live in Manchester Uk. We are into walking, open spaces, good food & good conversations & history etc. We are both pro-active for the most part.
    We are not that interested in big city’s, museums, crowds, big chain hotel’s or restaurants.
    We are fiercely indipendant & much prefer to do it ourselves most of the time.
    Let me put it like this would you recommend your parents to go to NZ for a month?
    We are a little concerned on the costs of food accomodation etc.
    The most we’ve spent in any one vacation was £7000 aprox $9500 US.
    What do you think?
    Regards Simon

    • Reply
      December 10, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      I would 100% recommend New Zealand based on everything you said.

      It’s a super popular destination for all ages. I met so many retired couples traveling by RV or campervan who were loving it. Most of the country is more rural, there aren’t that many big cities to begin with, and the landscapes are breathtaking. There’s endless opportunity for walking. Locals and travelers alike are super friendly and welcoming. Kiwis are generally independent types, so I think you’d feel right at home there.

      It is an expensive place to travel, but this post shows a fairly average cost of travel in the country. If you were to travel by camper/car/RV, that would help cut costs a bit. And by avoiding the cities, staying at holiday parks or motels, cooking for yourself, and avoiding touristy attractions, you’d be able to cut costs even more.

      I find people who travel the country with their own vehicles and with a partner tend to spend a bit less than solo travelers like myself who depend on public transportation.

      A month in New Zealand (besides airfare) could be done for a reasonable price.

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