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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!

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