Tour New Zealand on a Tight Budget

Written by: Rebecca Mills

If you’re in New Zealand you want to have the time of your life, but doing everything you want can take a toll on your budget. Follow these expert tips and you’ll find your money goes a lot further thn you think.

Do the legwork

– If you’re keen to try out the many outdoor activities New Zealand has to offer but have a limited budget, it’s worth working out where on your route offers the best value, as prices vary all over the country. Talk to other backpackers to find out how much they paid for activities and compare prices in guidebooks.

– Any activity around the Queenstown area is going to be much more expensive than elsewhere, as it’s such a popular tourist area in New Zealand. You might consider going white water rafting or jet boating on a less popular river. You’ll still have a great time and save some money.

– If several tours are offered in a tourist area make sure to compare prices. Often longer tours might seem more expensive but are ultimately better value, especially if they include food, overnight accommodation etc., so it’s worth doing your homework.

Thrifty gifties

– Some cities are less expensive than others, so if you want to go shopping for gifts it’s worth keeping this in mind. Dunedin on the South Island is a city with a large student population, meaning it’s full of bargains for the savvy shopper.

– Research different bus pass options. New Zealand has a lot of good bus passes on offer, some of which can save you up to 50% on fares. It’s worth doing your homework.

– If you get a YHA / VIP or BBH card it will save you money on accommodation but can also be used for discounts in shops, on travel fares, and on some tours and activities.

– If you have an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) make sure you take it with you, as New Zealand offers a lot of student discounts on tours, activities, fares and at retail. Make sure you ask if somewhere offers a student discount, as it may not always be advertised.

– New Zealand jade is a tempting purchase, but it has the potential to upset your budget. You could try the factory outlet shops rather than the high street souvenir shops. The factory workshops at Hokitika are good places to find jade pieces that won’t empty your wallet.

Camping on a shoestring

– New Zealand’s tap water is absolutely safe to drink, so if you buy a good quality water bottle and fill it up every day before you leave your room you won’t spend much on drinks while you’re out and about.

– If you need to buy camping equipment, consider hiring it while you’re there instead of purchasing it. This means you won’t need to carry it everywhere and you’ll save some serious money. If you’d prefer to buy your equipment, try second-hand stores in the major cities and get yourself a bargain.

– If you’re going to be visiting New Zealand’s more remote regions, stock up on food at the supermarkets in the city before you go. Village shops will be more expensive and have a more limited selection.

– Hostels often keep a cupboard of food that’s been left behind by other backpackers. It’s worth taking a look as it can be a good way to save money. Just make sure you check the best before dates!

– Pay a visit to local markets. They’re often an interesting experience in themselves, and can be a good place to pick up reasonably priced goods.

Most importantly, have an amazing time!

Check out these top New Zealand travel experiences


Reverse Traverse – Both Islands

from £1300

14 - 450 days

New Zealand

Experience both islands starting from South to North. Combine amazing national parks with accommodation in stunning locations and heaps of...

4, 8 and 12 Week Surf Development Courses

from £1900

27 - 84 days

Australia, New Zealand

Live out your dreams and discover a new way of life by joining one of our Surf Development Courses.  Enjoy...

Hot Rocks – North Island Adventure

from £900

9 - 10 days

New Zealand

Experience the best of the North Island on this unique tour which combines accommodation in stunning locations with optional activities,...

NZ Ski Instructor Paid Internships

from £5900

77 - 91 days

New Zealand

11 Week Level 1 & 2 Ski Instructor Internship - Train Level 1, Work, Train, Level 2 + Ski Work...

Cashier in New Zealand

from £549

182 - 365 days

New Zealand

Accelerate your adrenaline and launch your working holiday in New Zealand. Gap year jobs don’t come much better.

7 Day Southern Loop

from £589

7 days

New Zealand

Join our Southern Loop as we hit all the key spots in the upper South Island. We will wind our...

New Zealand’s Hop-On Hop-Off Adventure Bus

from £105

3 - 365 days

New Zealand

Want to go backpacking around New Zealand? This bus pass is all you need! Our hop-on, hop-off adventure travel buses...

New Zealand’s Ultimate Road Trip

from £760

31 - 360 days

New Zealand

Discover the real New Zealand from the far North to the very far South. Experience all the hotspots as well...

Volcano Surfing & Southern Skiing

from £1945

14 - 360 days

Australia, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Nicaragua...

A real flight deal for the intrepid gappers out there. Start off in Nicaragua for some volcano surfing, before heading...

14 Day Surf Camp

from £999

14 days

New Zealand

Join us for an action packed 14 days of surf immersion! Live on the beach and enjoy the surf lifestyle...


New Zealand Adventure Northbound (ex Christchurch)

from £4235

Visually striking, culturally daring and ever-surprising, New Zealand will charm the socks off even the most reserved traveller. Nature enthusiasts...

Explore Australia & New Zealand

from £5999

Why choose between Australia and New Zealand? Experience both on an extraordinary 22-day adventure. Discover iconic Sydney, fashionable Melbourne, and...

New Zealand Journey

from £2499

Spend 11 days exploring the North and South Islands of this small country packed with wonders. Travelling by train, gondola,...

New Zealand North Island Explorer (ex Christchurch)

from £2245

Explore New Zealand's northern heartland, from the secluded beaches of the coast to the volcanic craters of the central plateau,...

City to City

from £1089

High octane or slow and steady, this trip switches up the pace every day. Learn from Maori people, raft the...

Sweet As North

from £549

Mix with Maoris, make your way through Middle Earth and hike through picturesque national parks on the way to Wellington....

Northern Explorer

from £1029

Photos can barely do this place justice. See the stunning New Zealand landscape in super HD as you travel through...

New Zealand South Island Discovery

from £1715

Welcome to the deep south of New Zealand – a place where rare dolphins, penguins, sea lions and albatross roam...

New Zealand – North Island Multisport

from £1269

The North Island of New Zealand is blessed with spectacular scenery, ranging from bubbling thermal pools to fast flowing rivers....

Best of New Zealand

from £1839

Compared with their enormous neighbour to the left, the islands of New Zealand don’t look especially big on the map,...

Check out more New Zealand advice and inspiration

[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]