How Much Spending Money for New Zealand?

Planning a trip over the ditch to our beautiful neighbour, New Zealand? We at Crown Currency Exchange are here to help you budget your spending money for an unforgettable Kiwi adventure.

How Much Spending Money Do I Need for New Zealand?

Of course, the amount of New Zealand travel budget you’ll need depends on your travel style. Let’s break it down:

Budget Travellers

If you’re an adventurer at heart and don’t mind roughing it a bit, you can make your dollars stretch in New Zealand. With about NZD $80-95 per day, you can enjoy the freedom of backpacking across the country. You’ll find plenty of hostel dorms with a communal vibe that is easy on the pocket.

New Zealand is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering numerous free hikes through its stunning landscapes. You’ll be able to explore geothermal parks, beautiful beaches, and lush forests without spending a dime.

When it comes to meals, cooking your own food is a great way to save cash. Hit the local markets, where you can stock up on fresh produce and try your hand at making some Kiwi dishes.

Mid-range Travellers

If you’re someone who likes a balance of comfort and adventure, plan on spending between NZD $140-255 per day. This budget will allow you to stay in private rooms in hostels or modest Airbnbs, giving you a bit more privacy and comfort.

New Zealand has a thriving food scene, and this budget allows you to dine out at casual restaurants and cafes. Try out the local seafood, lamb, and the famous pavlova dessert.

As for activities, New Zealand is known for its adrenaline-pumping adventures. You’ll have room in your budget to splurge on a few thrilling activities like bungy jumping in Queenstown or whale watching in Kaikoura.

Luxury Travellers

If luxury is your style and you want to experience the best of what New Zealand has to offer, you should budget at least NZD $300-415 or more per day. This will get you a comfortable hotel room with all the amenities.

You’ll also be able to indulge in gourmet meals at some of the country’s top restaurants. New Zealand is renowned for its wine, so why not tour regions like Marlborough or Hawke’s Bay?

With a luxury budget, the sky’s the limit when it comes to activities. You could take a scenic train journey on the TranzAlpine, go on a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set, or even charter a helicopter for a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking landscapes.

What Goes into a Travel Budget?

Your travel budget will include:

  • Accommodation: Whether you’re bunking in a hostel or living it up in a luxury resort, this is likely to be one of your biggest expenses.
  • Food: From homemade sandwiches to gourmet dining, your food budget can vary widely based on your tastes.
  • Transportation: Getting around isn’t free, whether you’re hopping on a bus or renting a car.
  • Activities: You’re in New Zealand for a good time, not a long time. Budget for those bungee jumps, wine tours, and museum visits.

Each of these categories has different cost-saving strategies that we’ll discuss below.

What is the Cost of Accommodation in New Zealand?

Your travel style will determine how much you’ll spend on accommodation, as prices in New Zealand cost around NZD $20 to NZD $500 or more per night.

  • Budget Travellers: You’ll find plenty of budget accommodation, such as hostels with dormitory-style rooms, for around NZD $25-45 per night.
  • Mid-range Travellers: If you’re looking for a private room, you can find decent Airbnbs and guesthouses starting at NZD $70 per night.
  • Luxury Travellers: You won’t have to look hard for a luxury hotel, as New Zealand’s major cities offer plenty of them. Prices can start at NZD $200 per night.

Different Accommodation Options:

  • Hostels: A dorm bed in a 4-8 bedroom will set you back about NZD $30-45 per night. If you’re after a bit more privacy, hostel private rooms start at around NZD $80, with many being closer to NZD $110. Most hostels offer free Wi-Fi and have self-catering facilities, but don’t count on a free breakfast.
  • Budget Hotels: You’re looking at starting prices of about NZD $80 per night. Cheaper options may be available, but they could be far from city centres or lack private bathrooms.
  • Luxury Hotels: Prices start at around NZD $200 per night and can go up to well over NZD $500.
  • Airbnb: A private room on Airbnb starts at around NZD $70-90 per night while renting an entire home or apartment will cost you at least NZD $130-160 per night. Prices can spike if you leave booking till the last minute.
  • Campgrounds: There’s plenty of campgrounds around the country, with rates starting at around NZD $20 per night. Just remember, popular sites fill up quickly in summer, so book in advance!
  • Couchsurfing: It’s a big deal in New Zealand, so if you’re open to meeting locals and saving some cash, this could be a great option.

Our Money-Saving Tips for Accommodation Costs

  • Book in Advance: Especially during peak season, prices can skyrocket, and vacancies fill up quickly. Lock in that good deal as soon as you can.
  • Consider Off-Peak Travel: Accommodation prices often drop outside of the summer months. Plus, you’ll avoid the crowds!
  • Utilize Self-Catering Facilities: Save on meals by cooking for yourself when you can – this is particularly easy at hostels and campgrounds with kitchen facilities.

What is the Cost of Food in New Zealand?

Ready to tuck into some Kiwi cuisine? Here’s what you’ll need to budget for your belly.

  • Local Cuisine: From seafood and fish ‘n’ chips to Maori hangi, you’re in for a treat. A typical meal at a budget-friendly restaurant will cost you about NZD $22-27. If you’re feeling fancy, a nice meal with a drink will set you back around NZD $55-65.
  • Fast Food: Craving a quick combo meal from the likes of McDonald’s? You’ll need to part with about NZD $15. Other takeaway options like Chinese, Thai, or Indian meals are available for around NZD $16-21. Pizza lovers, rejoice – a takeaway pizza will cost you about NZD $11-16. And let’s not forget the classic Kiwi fish and chips, which you can snag for NZD $11-16.
  • Drinks: Thirsty? A beer will cost you about NZD $10-11, a glass of wine about NZD $13-16, and a cocktail will set you back NZD $14-19. For non-alcoholic options, a latte or cappuccino costs around NZD $6, while bottled water costs around NZD $3.50.
  • Groceries: If you prefer to whip up your own meals, expect to spend about NZD $65-85 per week on basic groceries like rice, pasta, veggies, and some meat or fish. PaknSave is typically the cheapest supermarket, and you’ll find them in the big cities.

Our Money-Saving Tips for Food Costs:

  • Cook Your Own Meals: Utilise those self-catering facilities in your accommodation to save some money.
  • Go for Lunch Specials: Many restaurants offer discounted lunch menus – the same great food at lower food prices.
  • Try Local Markets: Not only will you get fresh, local produce, but you’ll also be supporting local farmers and vendors. Win-win!

What is the Cost of Transport in New Zealand?

Getting around New Zealand comes with a few different options, and they all come at different price points.

  • Public Transport: Buses are common in most towns and cities, with Auckland and Wellington also offering rail services. One-way fares start at NZD $2.50-3.50, depending on your destination. Look for transit cards like Wellington’s Snapper card or Auckland’s AT HOP card to cut costs.
  • Backpacker Buses: These are a big hit amongst travellers, thanks to their ease and convenience. With the freedom to hop on and off as you please, buses like Kiwi Experience offer tours that last anywhere from a quick 2 days to an immersive 28 days, with prices swinging between NZD $90 and $1,600. On the other hand, Stray Tours offers a slightly more condensed experience of 8-18 days but packs in a ton of adventure, with costs ranging from NZD $2,200 to $5,200.
  • Trains: More for sightseeing than getting from A to B, New Zealand’s three train lines (Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific, and TranzAlpine) offer scenic rides with prices ranging from NZD $105-230 based on the route.
  • Buses: The most affordable way to get around, with stops in every town and frequent departures. Check out InterCity for fares and routes.
  • Flying: With only two airlines dominating the market (Air New Zealand and Jetstar), flying isn’t cheap. Expect to pay NZD $65-140 for one-way routes like Auckland to Queenstown, Queenstown to Christchurch, and Auckland to Christchurch.
  • Campervans and Car Rentals: A popular choice for exploring the South Island’s stunning natural scenery. Daily rates vary based on factors such as pick-up location, rental duration, and booking period.

Our Money-Saving Tips for Transportation Costs:

  • Book in Advance: Whether it’s buses, trains, or flights, booking early can help you save money on travel costs.
  • Go for Transit Cards: If you’re staying in one city for a while, a transit card like the Snapper or AT HOP can cut your public transport costs significantly.

What is the Cost of Activities in New Zealand?

Ready to adventure through New Zealand’s North and South Islands? Here’s what you’ll likely spend on some of the top activities.

  • Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: Film buffs, assemble! A guided tour of the Shire from the Lord of the Rings will cost you around NZD $90.
  • Skydiving in Queenstown: If you’re an adrenaline junkie, skydiving in Queenstown is a must. Expect to shell out around NZD $300 for this exhilarating experience.
  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Explore these magical caves for about NZD $55 for adults and NZD $24 for kids.
  • Maori Cultural Experience in Rotorua: Immerse yourself in Maori culture with traditional performances and a hangi feast in the North Island. Tickets start at around NZD $130.
  • Milford Sound Cruise: Marvel at the stunning fjords on a Milford Sound Cruise. Prices start from NZD $80 for adults and NZD $20 for kids.
  • Hiking in Tongariro National Park: While hiking itself is free, a shuttle to the start of the Alpine Crossing track will cost you about NZD $40.
  • Visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: Entry to this Wellington museum is free, but special exhibitions may charge around NZD $20.
  • Penguin Spotting in Dunedin: Get up close with these adorable creatures. Tours cost around NZD $60.
  • Wine Tasting in Marlborough: Sample some of the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc for about NZD $25 per person.
  • Whale Watching in Kaikoura: Spot these majestic creatures on a boat tour in the South Island. Prices start at NZD $150 for adults and NZD $60 for kids.

Our Money-Saving Tips for Activity Costs:

  • Book in Advance: Popular activities can sell out quickly during peak season. Secure your spot and potentially snag early bird discounts by booking ahead.
  • Look for Package Deals: Some companies offer discounts if you book multiple activities together.
  • Utilise Free Activities: New Zealand is brimming with natural beauty. Enjoy free activities like hiking, beach visits, and exploring local parks.

Other Expenses to Consider for the Trip

Sure, accommodation, food, transportation, and activities make up the bulk of your travel budget. But there are a few more things you’ll want to factor in to avoid any surprise expenses.

  1. Travel Insurance: It’s not the most exciting part of planning a trip, but it’s critical. Travel insurance covers you for things like medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage.
  2. Visa Fees: Depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand. The cost also varies, but an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) is NZD $23 if you apply online.
  3. Pre-trip Medical Expenses: Depending on where you’re coming from, you might need vaccinations before your trip. Also, don’t forget to factor in any prescription medications you’ll need while you’re away.
  4. Souvenirs & Shopping: Whether it’s a traditional Maori carving or some world-renowned Manuka honey, you’ll probably want to bring back a piece of New Zealand with you. Set aside a little extra cash for shopping.
  5. Emergency Fund: It’s always a good idea to have some extra money tucked away, just in case. This could cover unexpected expenses like a last-minute hotel change or a replacement for a lost passport.

Remember, it’s better to overestimate your budget and come back with money to spare than to underestimate and find yourself strapped for cash.

Most Cost-Effective Way to Take Yen to New Zealand

While debit and credit cards are widely accepted in New Zealand, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller businesses or emergencies.

At Crown Currency Exchange, we offer competitive AUD to NZD rates and zero commission fees on foreign currency exchange, making getting the New Zealand dollars you need easy and cost-effective. Get more information on buying NZD here.

Find your nearest Crown Currency location here.


Will I need cash for my visit to New Zealand?

Yes, it’s recommended to have physical cash, especially for small purchases or in places where card facilities may not be available.

Which currency is used in New Zealand?

New Zealand uses the New Zealand Dollar (NZD).

Is New Zealand considered an expensive destination?

New Zealand can be pricier than some other destinations, but with careful planning and budgeting, it’s possible to have an amazing trip without breaking the bank.

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