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Holiday tips on saving money and cost on your planned budget in New Zealand

  • 3 minutes

Ideas for a cheap holiday expenditure

Avoid extra cost with the cardinal rule of location, location, location … Accommodation, especially if you have one or two days in a place location is critical as you do not want to spend your time travelling to and from places and activities. That creates extra cost.

Location versus the cost of the accommodation is the tricky balancing act.

Auckland Trainstation, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland Trainstation

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.

We have all been faced with four flights of stairs, no lifts and it was not that close to the railway station anyway. The initial lure of, “It looks really good … and it’s cheap’ rapidly loses its charm when it costs in time and money getting around in an unfamiliar place.

Off season rates combined with an airline deal are often for weekdays. Perhaps consider several weekdays as weekends in popular cities such as Melbourne and Queenstown are often in the specials section.  Combined with 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.


Remember to check out day trips.

Air New Zealand mornig glory over South Island
Air New Zealand

Transport New Zealand and Australia

Getting somewhere in New Zealand or Australia can be expensive due the need to rent a car to check out the outdoor activities that are on your bucket list.

Most of the scenery is not in a convenient city location, rather it is a remote park. Check out a route that goes against the flow of tourists and cars.

Devil's Staircase, New Zealand @CarThrottle

Some visitors plan vehicle 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.  Similarly 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 them whenever possible when you are on a budget.

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.  It is a trip of endurance in flying rather than relaxing into a holiday vibe. I recommend a 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.


Responsible travel: sustainable tourism in New Zealand

Discover a place where you are important. It is about you; not about mass tourism. Aotearoa New Zealand issues an open invitation to people who care about their footprint.

learn more
Wildlife photo of a New Zealand sea lions
Acanthisitta chloris - Rifleman - titipounamu - endemic bird from New Zealand, small insectivorous passerine bird that is endemic to New Zealand, belongs to the family Acanthisittidae.

Transport costs are lessened by forward booking online tickets, especially seasonal or weekly specials.  Remember to download / offline copies of your purchases.  BEST BITS recommend you do not use third party agencies for public transport as the specials are not usually promoted.  It is not a tour you are going on, rather you are simply going from A to B.

Classic breakfast, Whitianga, New Zealand
Classic breakfast, Whitianga

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.

TIP: 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.

TIP: 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.

TIP: 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.

How to contact loved ones without running up huge data expenses?

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 your favourite messaging app.  Texting is a great way to find out where family is a strange city complete with a google map locator.

Caucasian man taking a selfie with smartphone in Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park
Auckland Savings Bank, Auckland, New Zealand @Alexander Eee
Auckland Savings Bank @Alexander Eee

How to pay for goods and services without incurring extraordinarily high exchange fees?

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 consider choosing 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.

Karangahake Gorge New Zealand
Matakana village farmers market, New Zealand @TODD EYRE
Matakana Village @Todd Eyre

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.  We do not have a low wage hidden immigrant component to our employment market.  Generally people can live on their wages.  Hence our country is more expensive.  However you are holidaying in a place where it is not a bargain, rather it is fair to the people who are supplying you with goods and services.  Holiday local, holiday here and backyard is familiar.  We can instantly recognise a bargain when we see it.




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