Prices in New Zealand

When planning a holiday in New Zealand, it is important to remember that things are not as cheap as they used to be. The New Zealand dollar has risen a considerable amount over the past few years, and the remote location and small population of New Zealand means that certain items are more expensive than you would expect them to be coming from, for example, the US or Great Britain.

Let us begin with the price of petrol. Having an idea of petrol prices in New Zealand is essential if you are thinking about hiring a car or renting a campervan. Of course, you would expect petrol to be more expensive in New Zealand than in the US, but just how much more expensive is it?

Firstly, if you are from the US, you should be aware that petrol is priced by the litre in New Zealand, rather than by the gallon. At the moment, in the middle of June 2013, petrol costs over 2.1 New Zealand dollars per litre, which translates to about 1.75 US dollars per litre, or just over one pound in Britain. In the US, if petrol, or gasoline, was sold in litres it would cost less than one US dollar per litre, meaning petrol is nearly twice as expensive in New Zealand as it is in the US. However, petrol is cheaper in New Zealand than it is in the UK.

As for the cost of food in New Zealand, you may find that basic commodities such as bread and milk are more expensive than in your home country. For example, you can expect to pay around three or four New Zealand dollars for a two-litre bottle of milk, and the same for a loaf of bread, although you can get low-quality bread for under two dollars a loaf.

It is possible, with effort and careful planning, to spend less than thirty dollars a week on food for one person, but such a feat would be difficult to achieve whilst on holiday. A recommendable amount to set aside for food would be seventy-five dollars a week per person, but that is only if you are not planning on visiting any restaurants.

Main meals at a restaurant in New Zealand usually cost between twenty-five and forty-five dollars, and the cheapest glass of wine in a restaurant will set you back about eight dollars. If you decide to eat out at a cheaper diner, remember that New Zealand is one of the most expensive places in the world to purchase a Big Mac and that such meals do not necessarily fill you up. Your best bet for a cheap, tasty and filling meal out in New Zealand is Asian food, dishes such as fried rice and curry. You can usually find offers such as “curry, naan and a drink” for just over ten dollars.

NZ HiTop CutawayNZ HiTop CutawayThe best way to keep food costs down whilst on holiday in New Zealand is to prepare your own meals as much as possible, but motels, which usually have kitchenettes in their rooms, can be quite costly, even if they are not as expensive as hotels. Many campgrounds in New Zealand have kitchen facilities, and many more have barbecues that are free for members of the public to use, which is why hiring a campervan is an extremely sensible option. Most campervans come with gas cookers and refrigerators and, though the cooking space is limited, they give you the option of storing and preparing food while you travel.

The cost of hiring a campervan in New Zealand varies greatly from season to season. In the low season, from May to September, cheap two-berth campervans are available for hire for under thirty dollars a day if you know where to look. But in the high season, at the height of summer when campervanning in New Zealand is extremely popular, the same model can go for over three times as much. For families, a four-berth campervan can be as cheap as sixty dollars a day in the low season, but over two hundred a day in the high season.

Hiring a campervan can make for a reasonably economical holiday, but you must remember to include fuel costs, insurance and the price of staying at campgrounds as you go. Staying the night at a campground, depending on the campground, can be completely free, but at the other end of the luxury scale it can reach around thirty dollars per person per night. The average is about ten dollars a night.

It is possible to holiday in New Zealand relatively cheaply, enjoying beauty of the landscape, but plan on spending a lot more if you come seeking thrills such as bungee jumping and jet boating!


Article by Abigail Simpson, author of POMS AWAY! A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand

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