Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Holidays how to save money while travelling around New Zealand

  • 3 minutes

New Zealand

Holidays in NZ are affordable. Yet getting to New Zealand is an international slog in endurance. Aotearoa New Zealand is far away from the world isolated in the south west Pacific Ocean. The nearest country is Australia is 1,600 km away or a three hour flight.

Arrive and plan to stay awhile. New Zealand is worth the journey. The country slumbers in the Pacific Ocean where holiday memories are created. Here are eleven holiday budget tips to stretch the dollar further.

Auckland Trainstation, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland Trainstation

11 holiday budget tips for your NZ holiday

  • Stay several days in one place, it’s cheaper than flitting from one place to another
  • Use local public transport outside peak commuter times
  • Travel off peak and shoulder season
  • Weekend travel is for locals, grab the weekend special instead, you’ve got the time
  • Forward book bucket list destination attractions and grab a combo deal
  • Pack a lunch or snack from the local deli with your reusable water bottle
  • Check if transport to attraction is free and book beforehand
  • Yummy eats can be found in pop up food markets, food trucks, check the local visitor centre for details
  • Front desk reception is a great place to ask for advice. They are locals and know their way around town.
  • Plan a free day so that you can grab the afternoon special advertised on a local blackboard visitor centre
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount although this is a judgement call when and where to ask for a cheaper price
Classic meat pie Turangi Bakery, New Zealand
Classic meat pie Turangi Bakery

Here are some ideas on getting the most out of your New Zealand holiday.

Crown Range highway selfie location, Cardrona historic hotel vintage vehicle, South Island, New Zealand
Cardrona historic hotel, South Island

Location, location, location says it all. Accommodation location is critical as you do not want to spend your time travelling to and from places and activities. Check google maps and the bucket list activities. Location versus the cost of the accommodation is the tricky balancing act.

The first question, before you choose your accommodation is how you plan to get from A to B during your stay. If it is public transport then it is important that you are near the train station, bus station …  If it is guided tours then it is important that you are either one of the hotel pick ups or within half an hour walking / public transport to pick up point.  This is especially important after a long day out and about sightseeing. We have all dragged our weary feet halfway across town to get to our hotel.

Imagine faced with four flights of stairs, no lifts and it was not that close to the railway station anyway. You wonder about your judgement as you viewed properties, taking the lure of, “It looks really good.”

Off season rates combined with an airline deal are often for weekdays. Perhaps consider several weekdays as weekends in popular cities such as Auckland, Queenstown or Melbourne. Combined with travel deals such as 3 nights with the fourth night either discounted or free is worth considering. In particular accommodation websites offer these deals. It is not as frequently marketed on accommodation broker websites such as trip advisor. You are then going to use your base as a hub for day trips.

@Auckland Airport Kiwi Hotel
@Auckland Airport Kiwi Hotel

Remember to check out day trips for your selected area.

Transport New Zealand and Australia

Getting somewhere in New Zealand or Australia can be expensive due the isolated national parks. Consider the option of the national park tour operator shuttle services. While you are limited to specific times it is a cost effective way to visit a remote location.

Karangahape Road in Auckland New Zealand
Karangahape Road in Auckland

Most scenery is not in a convenient city location, rather a remote park. Check out a route that goes against the flow of tourists and car relocation is an option. Relocate Wellington City to Auckland City for free | Transfercar. It does take some effort as it is a logistical exercise which then influences your journey direction. A good example of relocation in NZ is Wellington to Auckland. Most international travellers arrive in Auckland and then collect a rental car. Onwards to Wellington. Similar in Australia check out flow of traffic and, if renting a vehicle ask the rental company for the favoured routes for returns.  Negotiate with the rental company.

One way rentals are expensive, try to avoid whenever possible when you on a budget. And it is definitely not green to gas guzzle across the countryside.

Sharing is caring – perhaps sometimes?

Sharing the cost of traveling with on the spot recently acquired travel companions could end up a brilliant success or a disaster. Remember you are not familiar with newly acquired travelling companions priorities and travel styles. The seasoned backpacker, serious budget traveller who survives on instant noodles will have stories galore to regale audiences with.

Sustainable travel is not hopping from regional airport to regional airport. It is the least time in flight possible. And that cheaper airfare might gobble up valuable time on holiday. If your time away is ten working days and four are spent flying. Your holiday is then a trip of endurance in flying rather than relaxing into a holiday vibe.

Air NZ over Marlborough, New Zealand
Air NZ over Marlborough
@Whanganui River Markets
@Whanganui River Markets

Recommended is hub and spoke travel destination. One or two places with family and friends pivoting from your locations to local attractions. Public transportation is then a viable option, it is fun when you are not going to work, economical and always remember the bus operators of hop on and hop off services are familiar with public routes. Ask a local the best way to get somewhere without a car.

Transport costs are lessened by forward booking online tickets, especially seasonal or weekly specials. Remember to download / offline copies of your purchases. Public local transport can offer specials are not usually promoted, remember to check their website on a daily basis. Public transport is not a tour, rather you are simply going from A to B.

Eating out and restaurant food, when all you want is a home cooked favourite. Local markets are a great source of local favour without breaking the bank. Check out where the longest queue is and it is likely to be a firm local favourite. And the fruit is probably seasonal which should mean it is fresh, plentiful and not expensive.


Use the mini fridge in the hotel to store the fruit. Empty out the mini drink bottles and place them on top of the counter while your reusable water bottle, local fruits and snacks stay chilled in the fridge.


Families can have a picnic at the local park with the grocery store goodie bag. Remember to pack your cash and carry a reusable shopping bag.


Ask the front desk receptionist the best place to eat for a bargain. The person is a local and has to manage an income that is not great. They will be a fund of useful information about how to get around without spending next year’s salary.

Check your mobile data package offers for the place you are visiting. Install or advise friends and family you will be using Skype, Whatsapp or Google hangouts, Wechat to message. Texting is a great way to find out where family is a strange city complete with a google map locator.

The rule of thumb here is to withdraw money, not exchange money. Your bank card will offer good currency exchange rates, so forget wads of cash and instead withdraw local currency from the ATM. And be sure to travel with a bank card that reimburses all ATM fees. If using a credit card check the option of the bank deciding on the exchange rate rather than purchasing in the local currency immediately.

Sustainability and budgeting go together

Don’t try to check off everything on your list. It does not matter if the lake got missed out, it is not going anywhere and you can dream about the return journey to find that magical lake.

Travel in the slow lane minimises the cost of transport and accomodation, you are in the same place for several days. Feel like a local and enjoy the space you are in, rather than hopping every night to a new place. Leave that for the mass tourist bus operators.

Keep some days free from forward planning. Avoid booking in advance on your free days. Think of it as a ‘free’ day at the parks, beaches, walks and simply absorbing the sights and sounds of your holiday location.

Otago cycle trails, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Otago cycle trails, Wanaka, South Island
`Eat Street` shopping mall in Rotorua, New Zealand
`Eat Street` shopping mall in Rotorua

Sustainability is about contributing to the local economy, shopping local, eating locally you are one person extra supporting the hospitality service providers.

New Zealand and Australia are not the cheapest places to visit. Both countries do not have a low wage hidden immigrant component to the employment market.  Generally people can live on their wages. While you are holidaying in New Zealand it is a place where minimum wages are important to everyone’s welfare.

For more ideas about holiday budgets check out Flights, Connections and how to take the hassle out of flying.

And the best bit is the excitement of planning your trip to New Zealand. Start here with a quick scroll through New Zealand, attractions, things to do and places to visit, the definitive travel guide – Best Bits.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.

Related articles


If you have a query about content, travel deals or anything else, our team is happy to answer all your questions 🙂

    Your information is secure, no third party involved.
    100% Safe, secure, privacy guaranteed. Privacy Policy.