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Few places in the world can promise the same breath-taking scenery as New Zealand and the variety of landscapes, natural attractions and unique activities it offers in between. From sweeping mountain panoramas and long stretches of white powdered sands to idyllic towns and an endless line up of adventurous things to do including skiing, caving, hiking and skydiving. The land of the Long white cloud is an awe inspiring destination and while it may not seem like the most affordable part of the world to visit, there are many ways to reduce costs and travel New Zealand on a budget.
1. Time your arrival
You don’t necessarily need to keep an eye on exchange rates and how powerful the pound, euro or other currencies are to the Kiwi dollar but it is worth keeping in mind the timing of a trip to New Zealand. Most travelers will arrive during summer between the months of December and February which, given the favorable weather, is quite often the best time to see the attractions. However, the price of airfare, accommodation and even many tourist related services will be higher during this period and sometimes, double the cost.
As with any international travel, a great way to reduce costs on a trip to New Zealand is to travel during the shoulder months. This can be in spring or the month either side of summer but either way, prices should be lower during this time and you will have the added bonus of less tourist crowds when you get there.
Tip: Check for sales directly with either Qantas or Air New Zealand who send notifications of such deals to a subscriber list for which you can also sign up.
2. Hop on Hop off and the City Pass
Many cities in New Zealand, including Auckland and Wellington, will offer a city pass which give large discounts on local attractions. This is always useful if you intend on visiting a large number of attractions which require an admission fee as not only allow you to skip the line up in many case, but they will guarantee you to save money as opposed to paying for each of the attractions individually.
As for Hop on Hop off guided tours, these are a great way to become acquainted with the city but because they last for a few days in some cases, they are an invaluable way to get around the city during your stay regardless as to whether you are sightseeing or not.
Tip: Avoid expensive taxis and as an alternative to the above mentioned Hop on Hop off pass, consider using the local bus as a means of getting around. It is safe, efficient, and cheap and if it’s good enough for the locals, it should do just the job for you too.
3. Traveling New Zealand your way
Renting a car in New Zealand can be expensive and so too is the cost of fuel. However, this nation is home to an excellent transport network in which you can access anywhere in the country for an extremely affordable price. In fact, the local bus makes it possible to travel to various parts of the country for as little as NZ$2, while the InterCity and Naked bus are also two very popular services which are often the transport of choice for backpackers when they arrive.
That being said, the local bus is not always the most romantic way of taking a road trip for some people and so an alternative to these and renting a car, is opting for a campervan. Camping and caravanning is huge in New Zealand and so popular that there is even a designated government department for the conservation of campsites. Camping wild is legal in places and campsites are more affordable than nearby accommodation but overall, this general lifestyle on the road can be one of the best ways to reduce costs and travel New Zealand on a budget. Think about it, you sleep in the campervan, you cook in the campervan, you share the cost with friends and then even save on the price of a coffee by making your own brew on the road.
Tip: Depending on how long you travel in New Zealand, it may be worth buying a second hand campervan for your trip. These can be affordable and easy to sell when you finish with them. Furthermore, if you get a good deal, you can sometimes make a tidy profit when you sell it on at the end of your road trip.
4. Forget expensive hotels, stay at hostels
Traveling New Zealand on a budget is not easy but it can be done and one of the main areas in which to save money is when it comes to accommodation. As with anywhere in the world, hotels are mostly expensive on the two islands and a sure way to blow your budget before the trip has even started.
If you can bear the thought, you should definitely consider staying at hostels during your adventure in New Zealand. Hostels obviously cost a fraction of almost any other means of accommodation but then they also have a number of excellent services to help you save further. Think free towels, cheap laundry services or free access to machines, coupon discounts for local eateries or bars and cheap tours or free advice on what to see. Hostels offer an incredible return on the monetary value it costs to stay in them and if you just can’t face a night sharing a dormitory, they will usually have some of the cheapest private rooms in every town or city.
Tip: Choose a hostel with access to cooking facilities as often the most consistent expense in your budget, after accommodation and activities, is food.
5. Choose your activities wisely
After accommodation, most travelers in New Zealand will spend the largest portion of their budget on activities. New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world and in many of the most famous destinations around the islands you will find a wide array of adrenaline and outdoor activities including skiing, skydiving, caving and more. Unfortunately most of these cost money and it’s not uncommon for a backpacker to splash several hundred dollars in just a single day spent outdoors.
If you are traveling New Zealand on a budget, it is best to think ahead to each destination and plan what you want to see and do. This is especially important when it comes to the more expensive activities as otherwise, your budget can be severely damaged in an unexpected weekend trip. There are bound to be many activities you simply do not want to miss out on when traveling New Zealand on a budget but do keep in mind it is rarely possible to do everything and a lack of discipline with money in this part of the world can bring an end to a trip quicker than you might imagine.
Tip: Choose what you want to do in advance and stick to the plan. Think ahead and pick out as many free activities as possible such as art galleries, famous parks and local hiking trails with all the natural attraction of your dreams absolutely free.
Plan your trip with New Zealand Your Way.
Written: 3 articles
Create a customized itinerary for traveling in New Zealand based on personal preferences and budget. Visualize your travel plans in 3D animation and find the best prices to book as aspects of your New Zealand travel. Site in English and French.
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