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.
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).
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.
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)
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.)
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
Flights: $149 NZD
Bus Fare: $940 NZD
Train: $121 NZD
Ferry: $277 NZD
Total Transportation Cost: $1,487 NZD
Hostels: $3,344 NZD
Rent: $750 NZD
AirBnB: $145 NZD
Hotels: $476 NZD
Total Accommodation Cost: $4,715 NZD
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
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!
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