Traveling to New Zealand on a Budget

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New Zealand is a top travel destination for people all over the world. Home to diverse landscapes and incredibly beautiful nature, the country makes up for the expenses that you will encounter during your trip. But if you still want to save up on your travel budget, all you need to do is a good game plan. Here are our savvy tips and advice you can apply to enjoy your New Zealand trip without having to break the bank:

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Best Time to Visit New Zealand

Milford Sound Cruise
Take a cruise ride to relish the breathtaking view of the iconic rock facades and the numerous cascades of Milford Sound.

Peak travel season in New Zealand is from December to February. Tourist crowds as well as travel and accommodation fares are high during this time. The wise thing to do if you want to stretch your NZ travel budget is to avoid planning a trip during the peak season.
However, if your schedule is not flexible and the peak season is the only time you can travel, know that the extra expense means you will likely have better weather to explore the country.

If you are visiting in months other than the peak season, we recommend March to May or September to November. The winter season in New Zealand is definitely the cheapest time to travel with the exception of certain cities that have large ski resorts, such as Queenstown, Wanaka, and Ohakune.

Spending two weeks in New Zealand can be ideal to take in the impressive wealth of breathtaking landscapes and its culture. Alternatively, you can check out our guide on how many days to spend in New Zealand to plan an itinerary that best suits you.

Find Cheap Flights & Book Early

Air craft in Queenstown Airport, New Zealand
Airfare prices are typically dependent on a few different factors such as the time of year, how long you book in advance, and the type of ticket you purchase.

Airfares to New Zealand are dependent on factors such as the time of year, how long you book in advance, and the type of ticket you purchase. Flying to New Zealand from Australia is way easier and cheaper than anywhere else in the world.

In terms of the time of year, flight tickets to New Zealand are cheapest during the country’s spring, winter, and autumn months (between July and November). The summertime and Christmas are the most expensive times to fly to New Zealand.

It also pays to fly at “inconvenient times” of the day such as late at night or during the early hours of the morning, as well as mid-week rather than the weekends. Having a flexible travel plan is one of the best ways to find cheap flights.

Lastly, be sure to schedule your airport parking in advance if you plan on driving to the airport. You can save by using Flyparks, an online comparison site for airport parking that helps customers find the best deals on Sydney Airport Parking, Melbourne Airport Parking, and even Brisbane Airport Parking.

Be Aware of International Fees

New Zealand Bank Notes
New Zealand Dollars are the official currency and legal tender of New Zealand.

The currency in New Zealand is New Zealand Dollars (NZD). You will be able to use credit cards everywhere and also take out cash at one of the many ATMs in towns and cities. It is important to note that there is a small fee with each credit card transaction and ATM withdrawal overseas. If you are planning on staying in New Zealand for a few months, we recommend you open a local bank account.

Getting Around New Zealand

Ferry on Cook Strait between New Zealand's North and South Islands
Ferries are an effective method of transport between the North and South islands of New Zealand.
Bus Trip in New Zealand
These bus tours operate on a set route with the option to hop off at any point for as long as you wish.

There are countless ways to get around New Zealand and the option you choose depends on your budget, where you want to go, and which option best suits you. Below is a small overview of some of the best travel options to save money:

  • Travel in a Campervan: Traveling in a campervan is not the cheapest option, but it saves you the expenses of staying in hotels. It also gives you more freedom in terms of exploring the New Zealand terrain. You can also save up by cooking your own meals and taking advantage of free campsites that are plentiful in New Zealand. If you choose this option, be sure to select a campervan of a smaller size and ensure it has a good MPG.
  • National Bus (Public Transportation): This is the cheapest way of getting from points A to B in New Zealand. This option is a great way to get to nearby cities as the public transport network is quite extensive.
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Buses: These bus tours operate on a set route with the option to hop off at any point for as long as you wish. Activities and accommodation are optional and you typically pay as you go.
  • Rent a Car: Renting a car provides more freedom than most of the other options. There are countless budget car rentals available at airports and at plenty of other independent companies as well. Renting a car allows you to fit in a mixture of accommodation arrangements from tent camping to staying in cheap hostels.
  • Buy Your Own Vehicle: Secondhand cars and campervans are actually quite easy to buy and sell in New Zealand, and there is a large market for them. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of transportation if you plan to stay in New Zealand for a long time.
  • Bus Tours: Bus tours around New Zealand often include some food and accommodation for travelers. It is a stress-free way to travel the country with other people if that is something you are interested in.
  • Domestic Flights: Domestic flights in New Zealand are a good idea for those traveling long distances in New Zealand.
  • Ferries: There are also ferry services in New Zealand that get you from the mainland to offshore islands. This is also an effective method of transport between the North and South islands.

Things to Do in New Zealand

Glowworm Cathedral at the end of Waipu Cave in New Zealand
The Archnocampa Luminosa, a glowworm species, is responsible for illuminating the Waitomo Glowworm Caves on the North Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand is a great place to travel, given the numerous activities and places you can check out for free of cost. These include hikes/walks, wildlife viewing, hot springs, museums, art galleries, gardens, markets, glowworm caves, geothermal parks, and more. In addition, all of the national parks in New Zealand offer free entrance to visitors.

For those who have some money to spare in their travel budget for some activities, there are many affordable attractions such as New Zealand’s bird sanctuaries, brewery tours, wine tastings, mountain biking, kayaking, farm tours, and more.

Cook your Own Meals

luxury rack of lambs
While restaurants offer plenty of luxury food, it could be a tad heavy on pockets.

Eating out in New Zealand is very expensive and would eat away your money in no time. That is why it is highly recommended to cook your own food during your stay. There are some excellent budget stores, The Warehouse and Pak’n Save, where you can find everything you need to buy and cook food on a budget.


One of the best options for cheap accommodation in New Zealand is camping or sleeping in your campervan. This is because free campsites can be found all over New Zealand, and it is definitely in your best interest to take advantage of them.

We hope you will save a lot of money on your next trip to New Zealand with the help of these tips!

Guest post submitted by
Flyparks is an online comparison site that helps customers discover the best deals and book airport parking across all major airports in Australia and New Zealand.

Published by Will Cooper, updated on September 6, 2022
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