Unlock the secrets of budget travel in New Zealand, blending affordability with the excitement of exploration. Delve into the mesmerizing landscapes without straining your finances!
The Best Time to Visit New Zealand
While New Zealand captivates visitors year-round, each season offers unique experiences and price points. Summer, from December to February, is the peak tourist season, marked by inflated prices for attractions, car rentals, campervans, and hostels.
Winter is also bustling due to skiing and snowboarding activities, making budget road trips challenging with sub-zero temperatures, road closures, limited campsites, and restricted free activities like hikes.
For budget-friendly travel in New Zealand, opt for the shoulder seasons. Spring (October and November) and autumn (March and April) offer pleasant weather minus the summer crowds. Autumn, especially, reveals the vibrant foliage, enhancing your Budget Travel in New Zealand experience.
About Getting a Self-Contained Campervan
A self-contained campervan is a game-changer for budget-conscious travelers. These vans, transformed into cozy homes on wheels, feature a bed (usually for two), a kitchen with gas cookers and a sink, clothing storage, and even a toilet. Certified as “self-contained,” they meet specific requirements for comfortable living.
Renting a self-contained campervan opens the door to freedom camping—camping for free on the roadside or designated sites across New Zealand. Sleeping in your campervan not only saves money on accommodation but also elevates your travel freedom. However, there are crucial details to consider before renting a campervan.
Tips for Renting a Campervan
While not the cheapest option, you can secure a decent deal by choosing budget-oriented rental companies. Ensure you pick up and drop off your campervan at the same location to avoid hefty relocation fees charged by rental companies. Opt for road trip itineraries that form a loop, ending where you started.
Invest in travel insurance covering your campervan rental excess (deductible) in case of accidents. While campervan rentals often include basic insurance, lowering the excess is expensive. Good travel insurance can save you money in case of unforeseen issues.
Book your campervan well in advance to secure the best deals. Motorhome Republic is an excellent platform to compare available campervans, prices, and make early bookings.
Where to Stay
Once you have your wheels sorted, the next challenge is deciding where to spend your nights. For budget-conscious travelers in New Zealand, two options stand out: camping or staying in hostels.
Hostels, found in towns and cities nationwide, cater to backpackers with dorm beds ranging from $25 to $40 NZD. Booking platforms like Hostelworld and Booking.com offer convenient options.
Camping is a good option, which not only connects you with stunning campsites but is also more economical than hostels. There are three camping styles in New Zealand:
Freedom Camping: Park your self-contained campervan for free where allowed by local councils or in designated sites listed on the Campermate app. These sites may offer basic bathroom facilities.
DOC-Operated Campsites: Owned by the Department of Conservation, these low-budget campsites cost around $12-15 NZD per person per night. Basic facilities like pit toilets and running water are available.
Paid Holiday Parks: Privately owned campgrounds offer pricier but more luxurious facilities, including powered campsites, communal kitchens, laundry, hot showers, and sometimes additional amenities like pools. Prices range from $20-60 NZD per night per campsite. Advance bookings are recommended during peak summer.
Tips for Saving Money
Maximize your budget with these savvy tips before exploring New Zealand:
Use Deal Websites: Leverage platforms for discounted activities, tours, and for selected restaurants.
Freedom Camp Strategically: Save substantially by adhering to rules on freedom camping. The Campermate app helps identify permitted locations.
Gas Points + Rewards Cards: Given the extensive travel on a New Zealand road trip, sign up for rewards or discount cards at fuel stations for immediate discounts, typically around 4 cents per liter.
New Zealand’s natural beauty offers numerous free activities. Consider adding these to your itinerary:
- Hiking: Explore popular hikes like Tongariro Crossing, Cathedral Cove, Roy’s Peak, Ben Lomond, Lake Marian, and the Pinnacles.
- Waipu Glow Worm Caves: Visit the free Waipu Caves, a designated freedom camping site, for an enchanting glow worm experience.
- Self-Driven Lord of the Rings Tour: Discover Lord of the Rings film locations around Queenstown using GPS coordinates from New Zealand’s DOC website.
- Visit Waterfalls: Experience the beauty of waterfalls like Mclean Falls, Purakaunui Falls, Koropuku Falls, Thunder Creek Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
- Enjoy the Beach: Explore free-to-visit beaches like Piha Beach, Bethells Beach, Muriwai Beach, and the stunning Bay of Islands beaches. For a unique experience, dig your own hot water pool at Hot Water Beach.
Concluding, New Zealand warmly embraces budget travelers, ensuring an extraordinary experience—be it a road trip, camping, hiking, or immersing in nature—without exceeding your Budget Travel in New Zealand.