The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
travel budget

How much does a trip to New Zealand cost?

Faraway WorldsFaraway Worlds

Faraway Worlds

Staff writers

New Zealand, known for its stunning landscapes, thrilling adventure sports, and locations straight out of fantasy movies, is a top choice for travellers across the globe. But how much would a trip to this captivating land set you back?

In this article, we estimate the costs for a week-long budget trip for two in New Zealand during the shoulder season. From accommodation and meals to transportation and activities, we aim to give a rough estimate of the potential costs of your trip.

The cost of such a trip, however, can vary significantly depending on personal preferences, time of the year, and the length of your stay. Please note, that these are general estimates only and reflect prices in June 2023.

How much should I budget for a week in New Zealand?

On average, a week-long budget trip for two may cost around NZ$4000.

Depending on your travel style, you may find yourself spending more or less than the above costs. Below is a breakdown of the costs.

Accommodation costs in New Zealand

Accommodation in New Zealand varies greatly, providing a broad spectrum of options that cater to every type of traveller and budget.

For our estimate, we've budgeted NZ$250 per night for a double room in a mid-range hotel, which amounts to NZ$1750 for a week's stay. Mid-range hotels generally offer comfortable rooms, often equipped with amenities like Wi-Fi, en-suite bathrooms, and sometimes even a small kitchenette.

Many also provide breakfast as part of the package. These accommodations usually have a good balance of comfort, service, and cost, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious travellers.

Budget travellers or backpackers might prefer hostels or budget lodges, offering dormitory-style rooms or private rooms at much lower prices. These are a great way to cut down on costs, particularly in the more expensive areas of New Zealand. They often also offer communal kitchens and lounges, providing opportunities to meet other travellers.

No matter what type of accommodation you choose, remember that prices can fluctuate significantly based on the time of year. The peak tourist season, usually during the warmer months from December to February, sees higher accommodation costs.

Costs for food and drinks in New Zealand

New Zealand's food scene offers a range of culinary experiences, from high-end restaurants to cosy cafes and street food stalls.

For our budget, we've considered more cost-effective options for dining, which include eating out at modestly priced establishments, grabbing quick meals on the go, and perhaps cooking a few meals if your accommodation allows. Here's a few tips for saving money on food in New Zealand:

Budget meals: If you're on a budget, you can find basic lunch menus, which often include a drink, for around NZ$25 in most business districts. For a faster and cheaper option, a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant costs around NZ$18. Also, don't forget to try the traditional Kiwi pie, a hand-sized pastry filled with meat, cheese, or other ingredients.

Self-Catering: If you have access to a kitchen, consider buying groceries and cooking some of your meals. Supermarkets offer a variety of local and international food products.

Drinks: Alcohol can be quite expensive in New Zealand. Remember, drinking in moderation can help you stay on budget. For non-alcoholic options, a cappuccino in most cafes costs around NZ$5.74.

Eating out: For evenings out, we've budgeted for meals at local pubs where a basic dinner for two costs around NZ$70. These establishments offer a variety of options, from traditional fish and chips to international dishes.

Transportation costs in New Zealand

New Zealand's beautiful landscapes make it a fantastic country to explore by road. However, travelling through New Zealand requires careful planning and budgeting, particularly regarding transportation. In this budget, we've considered that you will hire a car, allowing you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Hiring a car is arguably the most convenient way to see the country, particularly for those wanting to explore more rural areas or national parks. Rates can vary significantly depending on the type of car, the rental company, and the season.

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from NZ$80 to NZ$150 per day for a compact to mid-sized car.

The cost of petrol can significantly add to your travel expenses. The price fluctuates, but as of mid-2023, you can expect to pay around NZ$3 per litre. If you plan to cover long distances, this can add up quickly, so it's worth considering fuel efficiency when choosing your rental vehicle.

In major cities like Auckland or Wellington, parking can be expensive and challenging to find. Rates in city centre car parks can be around NZ$4+ per hour. However, many hotels and accommodations outside the city centre offer free parking, and there are often free or cheaper options available if you're willing to park a bit further away and walk.

While we have primarily considered self-driving in this budget, it's worth noting that New Zealand has public transportation options, particularly within cities. Public transportation options become less frequent in more rural areas, but shuttle services often operate to major tourist sites.

Travelling between the North and South Islands will require a ferry. The most common route is between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island. Prices for this journey vary, but you can expect to pay around NZ$300 one way for a car and two passengers. 

Activity costs in New Zealand

While there are many free or low-cost activities available in New Zealand, some of the more unique experiences, particularly adventure sports, can be quite expensive. Some companies offer discounts for booking multiple activities or provide combination packages that can help save money if you plan on doing several high-ticket items.

In this budget, we've allocated around NZ$500 per person for activities during a week's stay.

This includes a mix of free or low-cost activities (like hiking in national parks) and one or two pricier adventure experiences. However, the cost can be significantly higher or lower depending on your interests and preference for adrenaline-filled activities.

Here are some indicative costs for popular activities

A few things to note

These estimates don't include extras like international flights, travel insurance, or personal expenditures for souvenirs or additional entertainment. Please note that costs can vary, and prices in tourist-heavy cities or during peak seasons may be higher.

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Last Updated 6 September 2023

Lake Wakatipu view from Queenstown

New Zealand

Famous for its natural beauty, New Zealand is a wonderful destination for travellers with a bit of an adventurous streak. A safe and accessible country, you'll find a huge range of activities to keep you busy, particularly if you enjoy the outdoors.