How to Travel New Zealand on a Budget

Words and photos by James and Chloe of Weird got Weirder. Follow their adventures on Instagram

take a working vacation

We understand that working on your vacation doesn’t sound like the best idea. In fact, most people travel to get away from working, but just hear us out, especially if you’re planning to visit New Zealand for more than a month.

First, you’ll need to apply and obtain your Working Holiday Visa. Once you’ve done this, sign up for this site called “WWOOF”. Basically, WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms and means that you can work for your accommodation and food. The deal usually requires 3-6 hours of work a day ranging from working in the grape vineyard or building a shed and everything in between. We worked with bees and picked organic vegetables to cook for dinner as well as doing smaller farm chores. The site is safe and reliable and has reviews from hosts and “WWOOFers”.

This is one of the best ways to absorb New Zealand culture and to learn about living a more sustainable life, not to mention that if the host likes you they’ll take you to some local-only places. If you want to see a side of New Zealand that is not normally seen by tourists this is the way to go.

Eat on the cheap

Whether you decide to WWOOF or not, eventually you’ll need to eat. In between WWOOF’s or braving it on your own we have found the cheapest way to eat in New Zealand, and it’s pretty similar to what you would do at home: grocery shopping. Although New Zealand doesn’t have spacious, never-ending local markets there are still ways to buy cheap and eat good.

Visiting local grocery stores offers you the ability to pick and choose and to cook to your dietary needs (gluten-free friends out there say “whoop!”). Usually there will be a label on the food saying that it was grown, farmed, or produced in New Zealand so this is still a great way to eat some of the local produce. We aren’t saying NEVER go out because, well, sometimes that’s the best way to taste the local flavor but this will help you cut down on costs tremendously!


Get creative with your transportation

Obviously, there’s always public transport but if you’ve ever used it you know it can be very limited. This becomes a problem if you want to do anything in a remote location or off the beaten path. It also means that you are at the mercy of the bus schedule.

If you have a valid driver’s license you can look into car relocations in New Zealand. You can get a rental car free for 5 days and all you have to do is drive it from one location to the next. Basically, rental car companies are constantly shoveling out money to transport their fleet cars to new locations and its cheaper for them to let you pay for the gas to get it there. This is a great way for you to be able to see what you want, when you want, and do it for a very reasonable price!

Of course hitch hiking is a great option if you find yourself in a rural area. Hitch hiking is very safe and obviously, free!

If you are in New Zealand for close to a year a good option would be to buy  a self-contained camper van, and sell it to someone else before you leave. Most of the vans average at about $2,000-$4,000 USD. Once you are done with it, the camper vans don’t end up selling for much less than you bought it for, and its much cheaper than staying in hostels!


Now that you are armed with our tips, book your ticket, pack your bags, and get out there to do some exploring!

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