Budget Travel Guide to New Zealand

By: New Zealand Visa Online

Many of the New Zealand’s natural wonders are free to visit. All you need to do is plan a budget trip to New Zealand using affordable transport, food , accommodation, and other smart tips that we give in this travel guide to New Zealand on a budget.

New Zealand Visa (NZeTA)

New Zealand Visa Application Form now allows visitors from all nationalities to obtain New Zealand eTA (NZETA) by email without visiting New Zealand Embassy. Government of New Zealand now officially recommends New Zealand Visa or New Zealand ETA online rather than sending paper documents. You can obtain NZETA by filling out a form in under three minutes on this website. The only requirement is to have a Debit or Credit Card and email id. You do not need to send your passport for Visa stamping. If you are arriving to New Zealand by the Cruise Ship route, you should check the New Zealand ETA eligibility conditions for Cruise Ship arrival to New Zealand.

Across-the-board tips

Airline tickets

Book your airline tickets as early as possible (at least 2 months in advance) and try to book the tickets early in the week, it is when airlines adjust their fares. Pro-tip, find mid-week tickets as that is when prices are usually less. 

Plan your trip and look at the trends in airline fares and the differences between airlines and websites to cut yourself the best deal possible. 

Ensure that you book your return ticket along with your onward ticket as round-trips are usually less expensive and you are not at the risk of having to shell out too much for the return ticket.

Travel guide to Shopping in New Zealand

Travel out of season

Research the peak travel season of your destination and avoid travelling then as prices on all fronts sky-rocket during this period.

Another time to avoid is summer vacations as families are likely to make use of this time to travel which inflates prices and places also tend to be more crowded. 

If you’re too skeptical about travelling off-season, try to travel just right before the season begins or at the tail-end or right after the season is complete.

But don’t compromise at the time of your travel in case there is something, in particular, you would like to visit at that time and will not be available at any other time. Travel above anything else is time for oneself to relax, be at ease, and rejuvenate oneself.

Budget travel tips

Public transportation/Rentals

Public transportation is your best friend in high-cost metropolitan cities where private travel would be too heavy on your pocket.

It is best to know the routes and modes of public transport in advance and chart out the places you plan to visit in advance to save yourself ample time and money to enjoy the spots at leisure. 

Even when travelling from one destination to another try to avail public transport like trains, buses or, even ferries in New Zealand as they would be cheaper than flights and would also reduce rent at hotels owing to longer travel time.

Cook meals

This will work out best in case you are Couchsurfing, in an Airbnb, or in a hostel/dorm that lets you cook your meals.

A huge chunk of unavoidable money on a trip involves food, if you can cook your meals and plan where to get good quality and inexpensive groceries it would work wonders on your budget allowing you to spend the extra cash saved elsewhere.

Tourist Guide to Mt Aspiring National Park


To be as accommodation-savvy as possible trade expensive and luxurious hotel rooms for hostels or dorm rooms. Couchsurfing or AirBnB are also great options to reduce the expense of one’s stay. 

Reach out to near or far family members and friends around which not only gives you a place to stay but also becomes a great time to catch up with loved ones. 

Another factor to consider while picking your place of stay is proximity to the places you are visiting, choosing a place too far away just because it is cheaper will be heavy on the pocket for travelling to and from the locations. So try and pick a centrally located accommodation.

Earn while travelling

This tip is likely only for those with a major money crunch but who would not like to miss out on an opportunity to set out to explore and visit a new place.

There are many opportunities one can wield to earn while they are on a tour. It could range from house sitting, teaching a language, and being a guide buddy to even street performances. The range of opportunities is plenty, grab them, and make the most of your trip!

Book package deals 

Instead of booking every aspect of your trip separately which could turn out to add to your expenses look for deals where you can club hotels and air tickets.

Sometimes you get better deals that include transportation within the destination and food which could work out much better on the monetary front as well as ensure you have a hassle-free trip. 

What is New Zealand eTA?

Tips specific to New Zealand

Travel Off-season

The most expensive time to travel to New Zealand is during summer, it is probably to escape from the harsh winter the northern hemisphere experiences at the same time. This time is between the beginning of December to late February.

That being said, it does not mean that Winters aren’t expensive or crowded in New Zealand as the country is a haven for skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering. But it is a bit wearing to travel at this time with sub-zero temperatures, limited camping spots, and closure of roads. 

The two best off-season times to visit New Zealand for relatively pleasant weather and reduced costs are in October and November during springtime and the autumn months of March and April.

Rent a Campervan

New Zealand is well-known for road trips and camping which could come at a high cost. Availing a campervan that is fully self-sufficient with storage space, bed for two people and even a toilet would save you a lot of money for your road trip. 

They are not cheap to rent but you can avail good deals at websites like Mad campers, Pod rentals, and Happy campers. 

For parking, the van, and pitching your tents try to find free sites instead of paid ones. 

Another tip is to get a van with good gas mileage and a smaller van as fuel is quite expensive in New Zealand.


Tourist Guide to Stewart Island

Pick an apt stay

The budget-friendly options for stay are camping, hostels, and Couchsurf in New Zealand. 

I recommend Couchsurfing as it is also a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with the locals and make new friends, but the catch is using the host’s house as a hotel will be disadvantageous. 

One can find good quality and accessible hostels at Hostelworld.com and Booking.com

WorkAway and WWOOfing are also options available in case you are looking for accommodation in exchange for some work. But a holiday-work visa must be obtained before you take this up!

For camping options, one can opt for the free sites of Freedom camping only if you sleep in a self-sufficient Campervan. The other option is sites run by the Department of Conservation for which the cost ranges from 12-15NZ$. Here you are allowed to pitch your tents and do not require a van. The last option is of paid holiday parks which are pricy but have the best facilities in terms of bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, and so on.

Look for Deal Websites

For trips to New Zealand in particular you can find the best deals and discounts on the website bookme.co.nz and for meals, you can find great deals at firsttable.co.nz

Get Discount cards

Get a Smart fuel card to save on gas.

New World is a grocery chain that gives great discounts if you have their card, if you plan to cook all your meals it’s a good purchase to make. 

Holiday Park Pass in case you plan to visit numerous parks this is a pass that covers the top 10 parks in New Zealand and is a good buy!

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park

Tourist Guide to Mt Aspiring National Park

Take up free activities

There are plenty of activities one can take part in without spending a penny in New Zealand.

Hiking is a favourite among all tourists which involves no additional cost other than any personal support material you carry with yourself to assist in your hike. The Tongariro Crossing is a highly traversed path

Waipu Glow Worm Caves is a free glow worm cave in New Zealand. It is located 3 hours away north of Auckland and additionally is also a freedom camping site!

Waipu Glow Worm Caves

Lord of the Rings tour is a free event where you can drive to Queenstown. 

Other than this there are several waterfalls, beaches, and walking tours one can take in New Zealand at no cost at all!

Hitchhiking and Car sharing for travel

They are the easiest options to reduce travel expenses in New Zealand. For car sharing all one has to do is pitch in for the fuel money and hitchhiking is as easy as it gets in New Zealand as anywhere else in the world. 

If you are in South Island, you must not miss Queenstown.

Purchase a Bus pass

Buses are the most inexpensive way of travel within New Zealand and if you want to cut back on the fare even more then the best way to do so is to get a pass which will save you time and money!

Secure yourself with Travel Insurance

Avoiding it is not seen as a great idea when travelling to New Zealand as getting insured helps in the case of a breakdown of your van or in case you are stuck while on a hike due to bad weather or any circumstance that has gone awry is better tackled when you have insurance in place!

But the MOST IMPORTANT TIP I can give is to have fun and splurge where you can afford to, try out exotic food and visit luxurious locations and spoil yourself while you can, as no trip is all about saving and conserving money. It is about making the most the place has to offer and having a great time, so figure out your budget in advance and plan out your expenses accordingly and sticking to it will lead to a great and memorable trip!

Piha Beach and other top 10 beaches in New Zealand you must visit.

Ensure that you have checked the eligibility for your New Zealand eTA. If you are from a Visa Waiver country then you can apply for an eTA regardless of the mode of travel (Air / Cruise). United States citizens, European citizens, Hong Kong citizens, United Kingdom citizens, Mexican citizens, French citizens and Dutch citizens can apply online for New Zealand eTA. United Kingdom residents can stay on New Zealand eTA for 6 months while others for 90 days.

Please apply for a New Zealand eTA 72 hours in advance of your flight.