“Turn your face to the sun
And the shadows fall behind you.”
– Maori Proverb
New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world and my personal happy place.
Hiking, skydiving, caving, bungy jumping, skiing — everything here screams towards getting you outside and doing something incredible. As a popular destination for backpackers, New Zealand is really affordable and offers many ways to save money. It’s one of the best countries in the world and a place not to be missed.
Use this guide to plan the adventure of the lifetime on a budget!
Hostel dorms cost between 20-40 NZD per night, while private rooms begin at 80 NZD. Budget hotels begin around 70 NZD per night for a double room. Airbnb is widely available with shared accommodation starting around 27 NZD per night and entire homes starting at 70 NZD per night. There are also a ton of campgrounds throughout the country with rates around 15 NZD per night. Couchsurfing is huge here too.
Eating out is generally expensive here. A restaurant meal with a drink can cost about 35-40 NZD per person. Of course, you can find cheaper meals if you stick to Chinese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants. They cost around 10 – 15 NZD. A beer at the bar will set you back at around 8 NZD. If you choose to cook your food, plan to spend between 65-80 NZD per week for basic grocery shopping.
Getting around the country is fairly cheap. Local bus fares vary for each city, but prices are generally around 3 NZD for an adult and even less if you purchase metrocards. Otherwise, most fares are about 20 NZD, though slightly more if you are going long distances. For example, the long Auckland to Wellington trip will cost around 40 NZD. There are also backpacker hop on/hop off buses. They are expensive and cost between 200 – 800 NZD but include a lot of activities and are a fun way to meet other people. Bike rentals are available in most cities, with daily rentals costing around 15 NZD per person. Flying can be expensive since there isn’t a lot of competition among airlines here.
With New Zealand being the adventure capital of the world there is a ton of activities to choose from costing between 100-600 NZD. There are a lot of outdoor activities and tourism here is constructed around getting people outside.
Suggested daily budget
$70-90 NZD / $50-62 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, limiting your adventure activities, and using local transportation.
Note, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!
LET’S GO PLACES
Queenstown is the action capital of the country, and offers a lot of outdoor activities and sports (bungee jumping is the most popular) to do in the area, amazing restaurants, and the best nightlife in New Zealand.
Bay of Islands – North of Auckland
This area has some of the best opportunities for dolphin and whale watching, relaxing on the beach, swimming, boating, and eating seafood. The area is a popular summer and weekend getaway destination for Aucklanders. A bus from Auckland to Paihia will cost around 20 NZD.
Abel Tasman National Park
Located in the south island, this national park looks like something out of this world with its turquoise blue water, dense jungles, and warm temperatures. There are many multi-day hiking trails and beautiful sea kayaking throughout the park. Entry to the park is free, though you will need to pay 14 NZD for a campsite if you plan on staying over.
Rotorua is famous for its Maori cultural shows and for its sulfur smell. Make sure to spend some relaxed time in one of the amazing thermal spas in the area.
Franz Josef Glacier
Hiking these glaciers is pretty amazing. Basic hikes can cost as little as 65 NZD, while epic tours that shuttle you via helicopter can cost as much as 550 NZD per person.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Known as the best one-day hike in New Zealand, this walk takes you through where they filmed Mordor in Lord of the Rings. You will walk through volcanic terrain, near high peaks, and sulfur lakes before finishing off in a dense forest. The walk takes a full day and costs around 50 NZD per person.
New Zealand’s capital offers breath taking architecture, fantastic nightlife, restaurants, and cultural activities.
A gorgeous coastal town several miles north of Christchurch. It is set in a peninsula, which makes it an awesome place to enjoy the mountain scenery while watching for whales or dolphins.
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