New Zealand is one of those dream locations for travel, a once in a life time kind of place. From the long sandy beaches of the North Island to the snow capped Southern Alps, it’s unforgettable. It is also expensive. Really expensive. Seems like everything you want to do in this country cost money. But in the end it’s worth it. You’ll head home with amazing memories and stories of a magnificent landscape and a laid back people. If you do want to visit without taking a second mortgage out here’s our tips for how to travel New Zealand cheaply.
Rent a Dent from Auckland airport
New Zealand isn’t world famous for public transport. It’s not even famous in New Zealand for public transport. In fact unless you’ve got a whole lot of time on your hands I do not recommend relying on buses and trains to get around.
Despite it’s clean green image it is still a country of car drivers. So if you want to know how to travel New Zealand cheaply starting at the airport with a cheap rental car is your best bet. You’ll find a lot of cheap-ish car hire places but one that’s been useful for us in the past is Rent a Dent. Known for renting out dented cars in the past (hence the cheap price) it’s cleaned up it’s act a bit recently. Still cheap, just slightly more reliable.
Couchsurf around New Zealand
Finding accommodation in New Zealand is the equivalent of lighting your wallet on fire and hoping for the best. But there are some things that you can do to keep the price down. If you’re young and don’t mind being uncomfortable you can try your hand at couchsurfing.
If your partner and kids don’t really feel like sleeping on a strangers floor I’d recommend simply looking for accommodation on the fringes of big cities. Better yet, stay in a small town nearby. As long as you have a car it’s a great way to experience small town New Zealand.
Take a spa in Te Aroha
Rotorua is a big draw card for a lot of travellers making their way around New Zealand. The thermal spas are amazing. Just sit back and relax in the natural hot water. But this tourist mecca is a very expensive place, especially if travelling with a family or a group.
So what if I told you that it’s not the only thermal resort in the North Island? Te Aroha, a tiny town around an hours drive from Rotorua is also home to thermal pools. Sure they are much smaller but you’ll generally only find locals here. And in a town with a very tiny population it’s never crowded.
If you want more information on some of the amazing small towns in New Zealand check out our blog on some of the best small towns in New Zealand. When you’re trying to figure out how to travel New Zealand cheaply, visiting small towns is a great way to travel on the cheap and meet the locals.
Drink like a student in Dunedin
The South Island of New Zealand is probably one of the most beautiful places you’ll visit in your entire life. It’s also one of the most expensive. Queenstown, in particular, steals your wallet out of your back pocket when you’re not even looking.
But there are plenty of other options for towns to base yourself in while making day trips to Queenstown, Wanaka or Arrowtown. Dunedin (although still three and a half hours from Queenstown) is a great place to stay and meet the locals. You’ll find that as a student town you can save a lot of money and have a few drinks with the scarfies (the nickname of the local students).