Backpacking New Zealand on a Budget: Money-Saving Tips and Tricks

Backpacking New Zealand on a budget

🗾 Introduction to Backpacking New Zealand on a Budget

New Zealand’s breathtaking landscapes, adventurous activities, and vibrant culture make it a dream destination for backpackers. However, the cost of exploring this beautiful country can add up quickly if you need to be more careful.

In this article, we’ll explore the best money-saving tips and tricks for backpacking in New Zealand, allowing you to make the most of your adventure without breaking the bank.

1. Planning Your Budget Backpacking Trip

Before setting foot in New Zealand, having a well-thought-out plan to manage your finances effectively is crucial.

  • Setting a budget: Determine the maximum amount you can spend during your trip. This should include your daily expenses, accommodation, transportation, and extra for unforeseen costs. A clear budget will help you stay on track and make informed choices.
  • Choosing the right time to visitNew Zealand has distinct peak and off-peak seasons. Travelling during the shoulder or off-peak seasons can significantly save accommodation and activities. Be sure to research and plan accordingly.
  • Duration of your trip: A longer trip may allow you to spread your costs over a more extended period, making it easier to stick to your budget. However, if you have limited time, plan your itinerary wisely to make the most of your visit without overspending.

travel on budget

2. Affordable Accommodation Options

Accommodation is a significant part of your budget while backpacking in New Zealand. Luckily, there are various cost-effective options to choose from:

  • Hostels: New Zealand offers a wide range of hostels that cater to budget-conscious travellers. These hostels provide dormitory-style rooms and often have communal kitchens, saving you money on meals.
  • Campsites: New Zealand is dotted with beautiful campsites in scenic locations. Some may require a small fee, but others can pitch your tent. Campsites are an excellent option if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Freedom camping: While camping in designated campsites is a great option, New Zealand also allows freedom camping in certain areas. Check local regulations, but this can be a fantastic way to save money on accommodation.
  • Homestays and farmstays: Staying with locals can provide an authentic experience and save you money on accommodation. Websites like Airbnb and Bookabach offer a variety of homestay and farmstay options.
  • Couchsurfing: For the truly budget-conscious, Couchsurfing can be an ideal option. It allows you to stay with locals for free, providing a unique cultural exchange experience.


3. Getting Around on a Budget

Transportation can be a significant expense in New Zealand, but there are ways to reduce these costs:

  • Public transportation: New Zealand’s public transportation system is well-developed and can be an economical way to get around. Buses, trams, and ferries can take you to various destinations, and you can save more by purchasing multi-trip passes.
  • HitchhikingNew Zealand is known for being a relatively safe country. Many travellers rely on this method to move from one place to another. Always prioritize safety and hitchhike with a buddy when possible.
  • Carpooling: Several websites and apps like allow you to share rides with locals. This can be a cost-effective way to travel, and you might make new friends.
  • Buying or renting a campervan: If you’re planning an extended stay, consider renting a campervan. While there’s an initial expense, it can save you money on accommodation and provide greater flexibility in your travel plans.
  • Biking and walking: In some cities and towns, you can explore on foot or by renting a bicycle. This is budget-friendly and an excellent way to experience the local culture up close.

campervan travel

4. Eating on a Budget

Eating out in New Zealand can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy delicious meals without overspending:

  • Cooking your own meals: Many hostels and campgrounds offer communal kitchens where you can prepare your food. Shopping at local supermarkets and farmers’ markets for ingredients can save you significant money.
  • Shopping at local markets: Farmers’ markets and local food stalls are excellent places to find fresh produce, artisanal products, and affordable, ready-to-eat meals.
  • Street food and takeaways: Look for food trucks and stalls selling affordable and delicious street food. This is an excellent way to try local cuisine without splurging.
  • Dining out strategically: Opt for lunch instead of dinner if you want to dine in a restaurant. Many places offer more affordable lunch menus that can be just as delicious as their dinner options.

Eating on a Budget

5. Adventure and Activities on a Shoestring

New Zealand is famous for its adventure activities, but you can enjoy them without emptying your wallet:

  • Free and low-cost hikes: New Zealand is a hiker’s paradise with numerous free or low-cost hiking trails. Some famous options include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
  • Swimming and beach activities: New Zealand’s beaches are free to access. You can swim, sunbathe, and even try your hand at water sports without spending much.
  • Budget-friendly adventure activities: Look for adventure deals and discounts tour operators offer. For example, you can often find discounted rates for kayaking, caving, and glacier walks.
  • Group discounts and combo deals: Traveling with friends or joining group tours can often lead to significant discounts on activities and tours. Additionally, many tour operators offer combo deals for multiple activities.
  • Work for accommodation and tours: Some hostels and lodges offer the opportunity to work in exchange for accommodation or discounted tours. This can be a fantastic way to reduce your overall costs.

BookMe is a platform where you will find adventure activities to immerse yourself in this natural spectacle and create memories that will last a lifetime.

👉 Check cheap activities and tours on

bookme activities

6. Money-Saving Cultural Experiences

Immersing in New Zealand’s culture can be a meaningful part of your journey without a hefty price tag:

  • Explore Māori culture for free or low cost: Many places in New Zealand offer opportunities to learn about the indigenous Māori culture at no cost. You can visit the marae (meeting grounds), attend cultural performances, and explore heritage sites.
  • Visit local museums and galleries: Many towns and cities have free or low-cost museums and art galleries that provide insights into New Zealand’s history and artistic culture.
  • Attend community events and festivals: Keep an eye on local event listings. Many communities host free or low-cost festivals, concerts, and cultural events that are open to the public.

Cultural Experiences

7. Avoiding Tourist Traps and Overpriced Areas

New Zealand has its fair share of touristy spots, which can be costly. Here’s how to avoid them:

  • Research and plan your routeBefore starting your journey, thoroughly research the destinations you plan to visit. Identify less touristy areas that offer unique experiences and better prices.
  • Staying away from touristy towns: Popular tourist destinations often have inflated prices for accommodations, dining, and activities. Consider staying in nearby towns or cities, which can be more budget-friendly.
  • Free or low-cost alternatives: There are many free or less expensive alternatives to popular tourist attractions. For example, you can explore a scenic area alone instead of paying for a guided tour.

Tourist traps

8. Budget-Friendly Travel Insurance

Pay attention to the importance of travel insurance, even when backpacking on a budget. Here are some tips for finding affordable coverage:

  • Necessary coverage: Determine the essential coverage you need. While saving money on insurance may be tempting, ensure you have adequate protection for medical emergencies and trip cancellations.
  • Comparing and choosing budget-friendly insurance: Use online tools to compare different travel insurance options. Look for policies that offer the coverage you need at competitive prices. Keep an eye out for special discounts or promotions.

travel insurance

9. Budget Backpacking Tips for Every Season

New Zealand offers incredible experiences year-round, and your budgeting approach may vary depending on the season:

  • Winter budgeting: If you plan to visit during New Zealand’s winter season, focus on budgeting for activities like skiing and snowboarding. Look for ski package deals and consider renting equipment rather than buying.
  • Summer budgeting: Summer is an ideal time for outdoor activities and beach trips. Remember that this is the peak tourist season, so book accommodation well in advance to secure better rates.
  • Spring and autumn budgeting: Shoulder seasons often bring milder weather and fewer crowds. This can be an excellent time for budget travelers, as prices for accommodations and activities tend to be lower.

backpacking tips

10. Money-Saving Apps and Resources

There are several apps and online resources that can help you manage your budget while backpacking in New Zealand:

  • Budgeting apps: Apps like “Trail Wallet” and “Splitwise” can help you track your expenses and stay within your budget.
  • Travel discount websites: Websites like “Bookme” and “GrabOne” offer discounted deals on accommodation, activities, and dining.
  • Free or low-cost travel resources: Utilize travel forums, blogs, and social media groups where fellow backpackers share tips and recommendations for budget-friendly travel.

💰 For money transfers and daily expenses, you can use a Wise card and App. You can find more info about this App in the following article: Seamless Money Transfers to New Zealand: Your Guide to Using the Wise App

wise tutorial


Backpacking in New Zealand on a budget is possible and highly rewarding.

Planning your trip, choosing affordable accommodations, managing your transportation costs, and being strategic about dining and activities will give you an unforgettable experience without breaking the bank.

As you explore the stunning landscapes, immerse yourself in the culture, and engage in adventures, you’ll find that budget backpacking in New Zealand is an enriching journey that leaves you with cherished memories and a sense of financial accomplishment.

So, pack your bags, set your budget, and prepare for a fantastic adventure in one of the world’s most picturesque destinations.

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Kiwilanders is a directory and blog featuring informational and recreational content about New Zealand.