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How to Save Money on Your Trip to New Zealand

New Zealand Insider Guides Budget Travel
by Turner Wright Feb 9, 2018

With all the adventure activities and fancy tours available in a country like New Zealand, you might think the costs can be insurmountable for a budget traveler. With tips like these, you can save on the small stuff to enjoy throwing away your money in one go at SkyCity Casino or a skydive over Taupo.

1. Book Nakedbus in advance.

Unless you’re in the mood to hitchhike (and this is legal in New Zealand as long as you don’t do it on the motorway), booking Nakedbus is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to get around independently, though sometimes Intercity has a good deal too. If you’re planning on traveling a lot — and who isn’t? — get one of their passes.

2. Skip an island.

It sounds heartbreaking, but really is a practical way to cut down on the cash you spend in New Zealand. If you’re planning to start your trip in Queenstown, stick with the South Island and all the nature that goes with it: Milford Sound, the pancake rocks, the glowworm caves.

Flying to the North Island isn’t exactly a big expense with Grabaseat, but an extra hundred dollars can come in handy with budget travelers. No matter how much time you have in the country, you’ll drive yourself mad trying to see it all.

3. Free attractions are everywhere.

Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula are within walking distance of each other and free for all. If you want to walk around Rotorua and take in the smell of sulfur, Kuirau Park is ripe for the taking. Unlike some countries, New Zealand doesn’t charge admission to tourists looking to climb mountains like Taranaki or complete the Great Walks — though admission to the mountain huts can be costly during the high season.

4. Do an Internet fast.

New Zealand has Internet and plentiful wifi, naturally, but many travelers have reported slow, trickling connections for uploading videos, watching movies, and even browsing Instagram. Internet access is based on usage in this country and not even Starbucks has unlimited service… unless you keep buying drinks.

5. Choose the right alcohol.

A lot of hostels offer drink vouchers and discounts for the bars they’re partnered with. Free drinks may not be offered at New Zealand casinos as they are in Vegas, but in general, avoiding cocktails and sticking with local wine (plenty of wineries nearby!) and beer is the way to go. Tui’s may not be my personal favorite, but there’s no denying they have some of the funniest billboards in the country.

6. Check options for free accommodation.

Have you ever drunk unpasteurized milk or eaten fruit right off the tree? Not only can you have an educational experience during your working holiday or vacation in New Zealand, but you’ll be well fed along the way. Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOFing) offers membership with access to contact information to hundreds of willing hosts for just $40 NZ for two people.

In addition, there are certain places outside of official campgrounds where tourists are allowed to park a campervan or just walk up and pitch a tent for the night. Freedom Camping, as it is known in New Zealand, is generally tolerated but has received some pushback in recent years due to a rise in litter and waste.

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