Offering everything from volcanic landscapes, paradise islands and bustling cosmopolitan cities, New Zealand is a diverse destination simply waiting to be explored – even for those on a budget. The abundance of natural beauty and outdoor sights coupled with a substantial supply of cheap accommodation allow travellers the opportunity to make the most of this breathtaking country.
Flight time from Australia to New Zealand is usually between three and five hours, with the main carriers including Jetstar, Air New Zealand and more recently Virgin Australia. If possible, book in advance for the cheapest tickets but keep an eye on last-minute sales and offerings. Travelling between the North and South Islands is a simple ferry ride (available for both cars and passengers), which can be up to $200, but significant discounts can be made by booking online.
Public transport is limited even within the major cities, so get out on foot wherever possible to explore the streets. Otherwise, buses are the main option – in Christchurch visitors should buy a Metrocard to receive discounted fares while Queenstown offers the Go Card, a seven-day visitor transport pass for $35.
Campervans are extremely popular in New Zealand. Giving flexibility and freedom, they allow budget-conscious travellers to combine the costs of a place to sleep with car hire. Rates are competitive due to the mode’s popularity and most vans come with a built-in stove and fold-out beds.
If you do want to get back to nature, campsites are well-maintained and often set in beautiful natural surroundings. For those wanting a bit of comfort, opt for a powered site, which will often include easy access to a shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. Home stays are a good value-for-money option if you fancy trying something a little different and getting the chance to stay with local families.
New Zealand is famous for its excellent food and wines, however dining out can be expensive. The best way to enjoy fresh produce from this fertile country is to stop off at farmer’s markets where you can buy less expensive goods that are in season, pack up a picnic and find a secluded spot to enjoy it. Most campsites will also allow barbecues.
Many wine tastings are free, so make sure you sample some of New Zealand’s signature Sauvignon Blancs and remember that purchasing from a cellar door is often the most cost-effective option.
For those on a budget, aim to visit New Zealand during the summer months when you can make the most of the outdoors. Many activities such as bungy jumping and jet boating in Queenstown or the geysers and zorbing in Rotorua are expensive and geared towards tourists. However, the natural sights in national parks such as Punakaiki or the abundant marine life in the southern Sounds are a must see. Opt for less expensive activities such as hiring bikes and riding the Otago Rail Trail or hiking through the alpine region of Aoraki, home to the famous Mount Cook.