New Zealand Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

New Zealand scenery when backpacking

This post details the estimated cost of travel in New Zealand. We have outlined two daily travel budgets – one for budget-minded travellers and one for those on a slightly more comfortable backpacking budget. Further down there are details on the local currency and sample prices for travellers in the country.

new zealand backpacking budget
Map of New Zealand from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0

New Zealand Cost of Travel in 2023

Shoestring Backpacker Budget

  • US$60/day | 95 New Zealand Dollars

Prices in New Zealand are fairly similar to Australia but our suggested New Zealand backpacking budget of 95 New Zealand Dollars per day is slightly less than our Australia backpacking budget. One reason for that is that NZ is considerably smaller with the main destinations more closely bunched together so journeys tend to be a lot shorter and therefore less expensive. On a day to day basis, in a typical town, there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two although there’s not quite as much nightlife in New Zealand so again less money tends to be spent on going out in the evening.

Like Australia, there is a lot accommodation and plenty of activities that are geared towards backpackers and budget travellers. However prices are still quite high and New Zealand is an expensive country by most global standards, ranking at the expensive end of our cost of travel table which compares backpacking costs around the world.

With dorms beds for under US$25/night relatively hard to find, even the most budget-minded of travellers will struggle to get by on less, unless you are literally cooking all your own meals and doing mostly free daytime activities such as hiking and exploring towns on foot.

More Comfortable New Zealand Backpacking Budget

  • US$90/day | 145 New Zealand Dollars

Many travellers come here largely because of the amazing choice of adventure sports and activities in New Zealand and almost everywhere you go, there is something new to try and another experience to tick off your bucket list. These things may get the adrenaline racing but they will also often burn a big hole in your pocket with bungy jumps likely to come to more than even this more comfortable New Zealand backpacker budget of 145 NZD per day.

If you want to do some of these activities and only have a few weeks in the country then this kind of budget may be more suitable than the previous one. Another option to save costs, is to consider basing yourself in one of the cheapest cities to live in New Zealand for a period of time, perhaps find some short-term work, and do trips and activities in your free time.

New Zealand rafting trip
Adventure activities such as rafting are everywhere in New Zealand but can be expensive.

New Zealand Travel Costs

Approximate Price (in US Dollars)
Flight from Auckland to Christchurch (1 hour 20 minutes)From $50 + Baggage Fees (Book in advance for the best fares)
Bus from Christchurch to Queenstown (8 hours)$50
Meal in an affordable local restaurant$12-18
Local beer in bar/restaurant$5-7
Dorm bed in a hostelFrom $25/night
Budget private roomFrom $55/night
Bungy jump off Kawarau Bridge$140
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The cost of travel in New Zealand is roughly in line with other expensive countries in Western Europe or North America. Prices are also comparable to the cost of travel in Japan but you’ll notice a big hike in your daily expenses if you’re arriving from Southeast Asia which is a popular route with round-the-world travellers.

Money – New Zealand Dollars

£1 = 1.97 NZD

€1 = 1.73 NZD

US$1 = 1.60 NZD

These exchange rates are accurate as of March 2023. Contactless payments are widely accepted via mobile or credit/debit card.

This New Zealand backpacking budget was last updated in March 2023.

New Zealand Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

2 thoughts on “New Zealand Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

  1. in 2023 i wonder what it is now. Cost of living is going through the roof in 2023, i’m glad i visted aus back in 2019 when it was half the price it is now to rent dorms.

  2. $20 (all NZD in this comment) for a meal is definitely mid-range, not inexpensive, in New Zealand. Shoestring budget should reflect the fact that you can easily find meals under $10; for example Dominos $5 pizzas and every corner dairy selling fish and chips for $4.50. Even in a larger city like Dunedin it is extremely easy to find good sit-down meals in the $10-15 range. Queenstown is probably the sole exception to this. Accommodation and transportation costs are accurate.

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