Our blog continues getting further behind as we keep traveling and struggle to find time to write blog entries, but I will be diligent in keeping our budget posts coming as we complete the blog entries for each country.

New Zealand, although not nearly as expensive as Australia, is still not quite a budget traveler’s paradise.  While food costs (when self catering) and accommodation costs are fairly reasonable, transportation is still an expensive proposition when you want to see more than just the major sights.  There are some interesting options like the hop-on/hop-off Magic Bus designed for backpackers, but when time is a limiting factor then transportation can become a major expense.

The cost breakdown below is solely costs incurred while in New Zealand and doesn’t cover any international costs (international flights, insurance, etc), but does cover domestic travel.

During our three weeks in New Zealand we spent a total of US$4,999:

  • Accommodation – $1,306
  • Food – $981
  • Travel – $1,696
  • Activities – $533
  • Misc – $483
  • 22 nights in New Zealand = $227/night

Accommodation, obviously, covers where we sleep each night.  Food is everything we eat or drink — water, beer, dinner, lunch, snacks, etc.  Travel is domestic travel only.  So this covers bus trips, train rides, domestic flights, taxis, ferries, anything in country.  Activities are the things we do for fun/entertainment.  This is park entry fees, museum fees, theater tickets, etc.  Misc. is a catch-all category that includes things like shampoo, laundry, gear replacement (although I will specify any major costs), souvenirs, gifts and medical expenses (again, I’ll specify anything major).

Below is a graphical representation of those numbers:

New Zealand expense chart

New Zealand expense chart

Our trip in New Zealand was relatively healthy, so no major medical expenses incurred.  However we did have a one-off gear expense of just about US$100 buying Her an Osprey shoulder bag in Queenstown.  The shoulder bag she was using just wasn’t working, and the Osprey bag was a good addition.  I assigned it as a cost in New Zealand, but will be something that she can use the remainder of the trip.

Hoping to spend US$4,400 (or US$200/day) we came in about 13% over budget. Like Australia, it was travel expenses that pushed us over, while we managed to come in under our expectations in every other category.  Our goal on this trip is to stay in private rooms rather than dorms when it’s economical, and we managed to do that every night in New Zealand although we did stay in one total dive in Charleston.  We self-catered many of our meals eating in restaurants only sparingly and usually just for lunch.  I think, like in Australia, traveling by camper van (or even tent) would be a much cheaper alternative to staying in hotels when the weather is nice since camping is free or very cheap at many government operated sites in New Zealand.  I don’t know how well that would have worked for us as many of the places we visited were either very hot or very cold while we were there.  We also spent a large amount of our time in Auckland as we were there for a family occasion.  Staying in large cities is always more expensive for food and accommodation; getting out to some of the surrounding countryside might have been a way to lower our expenses.

I had a wonderful time in New Zealand.  It’s probably the most beautiful country I have ever visited, the people are friendly, and the costs are reasonable.  We spent 3 weeks there, but I could have easily spent 3 months or more traveling around and taking my time at all the places we visited.  This is a country that should not be missed.