Top 10 Ways to Save Money in New Zealand: Travel Tips

Travelers to New Zealand often ask Why is New Zealand so expensive?

To help solve this problem, here are 10 insider tips (I’m a New Zealander) for ways you can save money when you travel to New Zealand.

Top Ten Ways to Save Money in New Zealand

1. Buy it before you come.

If you’re visiting from the US, bring items like books, cosmetics, insect repellent, and hiking gear with you. Outdoors gear is extremely expensive in New Zealand. For example, MSR camping stoves are almost three times the price they are in the US.

New Zealand: Pretty but pricey.

2. Switch to the kindle or order guidebooks online.

Books are expensive here. Switch to the kindle for your vacation reading. Lonely Planet guides are extremely pricey here. The Book Depository (.com) is a good website that ships free to New Zealand. If you really want to carry a paperback guidebook, perhaps have it shipped here for your arrival.

3. Use discount buying sites for hotel deals.

Groupon, grab one, and treat me all offer hotel deals for New Zealand.

4. Don’t expect to be able to return things.

Store returns policies are much less flexible in New Zealand than they are in the US. In most circumstances you will only be offered store credit. (You can of course return things that are defective, under our Consumer Guarantees Act).

5. Consider Hotel Alternatives.

Even if you’re not camping, campgrounds may have cabins or units that are substantially cheaper than hotel and motel prices. Even if you wouldn’t stay at a hostel in a city, consider private rooms in hostels in more remote locations. These options will typically give you access to a kitchen so you can prepare some of your own meals.

If you’re renting a car and are prepared to bring a tent, there are lots of Department of Conversation camp sites where you can camp for a nominal fee (usually $6).

6. Pre-Research Your Adrenaline Junkie Activities and Tours.

The adrenaline junkie adventure activities that New Zealand is famous for, like bungee jumping, the shotover jet boat, and sky diving, are expensive. Activities like Whale Watching also tend to be expensive.

Pre-research the costs and decide which activities are most important to you. It’s easy to get overexcited and blow your budget once you get to a destination like Queenstown.

7. Build free activities into your trip.

Any guided trips you do e.g., whale watching, boat trips, will be budget busting. You can even out the cost of these by building in free self-guided activities.

For example, there are lots of free short walks on can take in popular tourist destinations. These don’t require a guide. In many locations there will be a Department of Conversation office that will be able to give you suggestions and guidance. Also, don’t hesitate to ask any local. New Zealanders are less extroverted than Americans so might not approach you. But, we will go out of our way to try to be helpful if stopped by a traveler.

8. Look for a relocation rental car deal.

Rental car hire companies often need to shift around their fleet. You may be able to get a GREAT deal if you help them relocate a car from the South Island back to the North Island etc.

9. Prepare for Higher Food Costs.

New Zealand supermarkets have a great selection of yummy foods for making breakfasts and lunches etc. Consider this option as an alternative to eating at cafes and restaurants all the time.

10. Use Wifi at McDonalds and Public Libraries

Starbucks doesn’t have free wifi here. McDonalds does. Public libraries often do too.

Although New Zealand is generally more expensive than the US, we hope you have a GREAT stay here.

What Have I Missed Out?

Fellow New Zealand travel bloggers or experienced NZ travelers, what money saving New Zealand travel tips have I missed out?

More Information.

Read: The reasons why New Zealand is so expensive.


  1. //

    Very good tips! I’m a Kiwi who’s just returned home after five years in Europe and it’s shocked even me how expensive some things are here. Definitely shop at the supermarket instead of eating out all the time – I did the same thing in expensive places in Europe and it really works a treat.

  2. //

    Welcome home Simon. Thanks for commenting :) Is great that a few other kiwis are saying they agree with these.

  3. //

    I really want to visit New Zealand, but have avoided doing so due to the cost. Transportation always seemed like it would be the biggest problem, so I really like your rental relocation suggestion–I definitely hadn’t thought of that.

  4. //

    Thank you for sharing these useful tips! Can definitely need them to prepare my upcoming NZ trip :-)

  5. //

    I have definitely heard New Zealand can be a budget breaker for a traveler. These are good tips to keep in mind when I go (which will hopefully be in my lifetime!).

  6. //

    This amplifies the pro of travelling as an Aussie or kiwi, loving how cheap its been everywhere i go abroad!!!

    If I was to add a point, I would say for visitors to take advantage of how hospitable Kiwi’s are, they love hooking their visitors up with rides, a place to stay, a meal to eat etc!

  7. //

    I’m a Kiwi as well. Some good tips here. If you plan ahead you can get some really cheap deals on Magic Bus and Intercity – sometimes only a dollar for a trip. Also Air Nz has great grab a seat deals if you get in fast. Late night flights from Auckland to Wellington are now only $Nz29. Couch surfing is also a good way to go. We NZers are a pretty hospitable bunch and enjoy showing people our beautiful country. Don’t just go to the obvious tourist spots like Queenstown – they are expensive all round. Take the time to explore some of the lesser known places like northland or east cape and you’ll be surprised with what you can see and do.

  8. //

    Great tips! We went to NZ a few years back and even then it was pricey. Its good to now there are ways to keep the costs down if we should go back!

    Absolutely loving your blog BTW! :)

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