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9 Tips for Travelling New Zealand on a Budget

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Image of a backpacker looking at the map of New Zealand

The fact is, New Zealand is not as cheap to travel, compared with the many South East Asian countries in our geographical backyard. You’ll want to splurge on the activities to make the best of your time. We’ve got some tips to help you save on everything else, so you can go all out to create awesome travel memories.

Up your travel game with these 9 tips for budget travel in New Zealand

Image of a road leading to a mountain in New Zealand

Source: GoodFreePhotos.com

1. Travel with a buddy

Travelling with at least one buddy means much of your costs can be halved, especially with things like car rental, petrol, groceries and accommodation. In restaurants and cafes you get to share food and sample more.

Got no one to go with you from Singapore? Make friends with other travellers and see if anyone’s plans line up with yours.

2. Hitchhike to get around

Image of a person's hand with the thumbs up, signifying a request for a lift

Hitchhiking is such a foreign concept to Singaporeans, and here’s one great way to try something new, push yourself out of your comfort zone, make a new friend, and travel across the country for free.

A local Kiwi shared that drivers who pick hitchhikers up are also looking for company on an otherwise boring long drive. Kiwis are generally very nice and very willing to help a traveller.

You’re not expected to chip in for petrol though anything you’d like to contribute – whether monetary or a gift – is totally welcome!

3. Sign up for an AA Smartfuel card at BP

Image of a BP petrol bunk in New Zealand

Here’s a fuel hack for you. You get a 6 cents per litre discount every time you put $40 worth of petrol into your car. Needing to put $80 in? Split it into two pumps and two payments. The transaction then gets you 12 cents off per litre.

Depending on how much driving you’re doing, you can eventually rack up enough points to get a full tank of fuel for free! In-the-know locals do this and you should too. Points expire at the end of the month, one month from the date of your transaction.

4. Shop at op-shops

Op shops are second-hand stores. They’re quite ubiquitous in New Zealand and you’ll find one in whatever town or city you’re in. Scour the racks for things like winter wear – they’ll be at prices between $3 and $10, still in good condition and totally warm enough for the Kiwi cold. Cutlery and crockery are other good things to buy from an op shop – prices often range between $0.50 and $2.

5. Couchsurf or house-sit for someone

Image of a house in New Zealand

Save on accommodation by Couchsurfing. Good-hearted locals host travellers and provide a space for them to sleep – for free. This could be the couch, a shared room, or if you’re lucky – your own room with ensuite bathroom.

Be a good couchsurfer! You might want to bring a gift from your home country, offer to cook a meal, or help keep the house clean. Another option is to house sit for a local going on a holiday.

Kiwis often take long breaks and will be looking for people to keep their homes clean and pets and plants alive while they’re gone. Getting to live in a fully-furnished home for free sounds like a pretty sweet deal!

6. Do a bit of work in exchange for food and accommodation

There’s no better way to experience a country than to live like a local – even better if their lifestyle is nothing like what you can get back home. Be a farm hand, look after fruit orchards, help build a new shed, tend to the garden, pet sit, and more.

For a bit of work, you can get meals and a room, and make new friends. Use sites like Workaway, Helpx and WWOOF New Zealand to find such opportunities.

7. Cook your own meals

Image of local produce/groceries in a supermarket in New Zealand

You can eat very cheaply if you cook your own meals, more so if you’re not too fazed about the quality of your groceries. For example, there are budget loaves of bread for $1, 500g bags of pasta for 80c, 500g bags of brown rice for around $2.80 and canned foods under $3.

Supermarkets also often have a section where foods close to their expiry dates are placed on big discounts. Some fresh vegetables can be very expensive in New Zealand ($3 for one capsicum!) so you’re better off buying the frozen version sometimes.

Sign up for free loyalty cards (often available for pick-up at cashiers) to reap even more savings!

8. Buy a car instead of renting

If you’re travelling long-term in the country, it might be better to buy than rent a car. You can get a decent vehicle for between $2,000 and $3,000. In fact, you can even find cars for $600-$700 if you’re happy to work with the condition it’s in.

When deciding between buying and renting, consider the logistics required to pick up and return rental cars when moving from region to region, and insurance costs.

9. Walk and hike, walk and hike

Adventure activities are plentiful in New Zealand and you don’t always have to pay for them. There are plenty of beautiful walks and hikes you can go on without spending a dime.

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