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After arriving in New Zealand after a five month trip in Southeast Asia, it was a shock to be paying Western prices again. We would go to the supermarket, get to the check-out counter and hate how much we were paying for food! So for our two month road trip around New Zealand I thought I would keep track of all our expenses along the way. This was in the hope that it will give you a really good idea of how much money you will need to travel the country. So here is my New Zealand North Island Travel Budget! I have included all of our costs and some money saving tips. Make sure to read until the end to find out our total cost of both the South and the North islands!
I have previously itemised all of our costs from the South Island too, so click here to read that post and compare the two islands.
Total for 2 people – £259.89
Average daily food cost – £12.37
Comparing our food cost here to that of the South Island, the average had decreased by about £3 a day. By this point in our road trip we had definitely had a lot of practice cooking on one hob! We knew what we liked to buy and what was easy to cook, which in turn meant we were buying less things and not wasting money on unnecessary items. We still made a trip to Countdown daily, and bought just a few bits each time, instead of one large shop once a week!
Total for 2 people – £278.27
Cost per 100km travelled – £9.17
We spent much less on fuel in the North Island, mainly as we only travelled 3,033km compared to that of 3,886km in the South. But it does work out that we spent less per 100km, this may have been because of the less mountainous roads or perhaps the prices were a little cheaper in the North. My only tip to save money in this area would be to try and avoid filling up your tank in the main towns. We noticed in towns like Queenstown, Wanaka and Auckland that the prices were higher, so if possible fill up outside of these centres! Other than that, petrol is a cost that you really can’t avoid on a road trip!
Total for 2 people – £22.44
Average daily campsite cost – £1.07
We actually only had to pay for campsites for just 2 nights out of our 21 day trip! One of them was in Rotorua, where we couldn’t find any free campsites so ended up in the car park of a pub. It was only £9.93 for the two of us, and we could also use their shower for free! The other campsite was one that I would really recommend if you are passing through Kaikohe. The Cowshed Camping Site is only £5.96 per person, it was lovely and quiet with a number of secluded spaces. There was a really lovely shower, and inside cooking areas too! We just found it on our camping app, Campermate!
This cost is a massive decrease to that of the South Island, where we had to pay for 7 campsites! We found in the most touristy areas that there just weren’t any free campsites available. Although, we did find that there was a noticeable difference in the campsites in both of the islands. In the South, the free ones were usually large grassy fields that could fit 100 vans in, with just a drop toilet to use. In the North, there were lots of free campsites with much better facilities, but they all only held space for under 5 vans. They were mostly public parks, with just a few allocated self-contained spaces, which would always get full up by about 6pm.
For this reason it is much easier to have a self-contained vehicle in the North Island. I had trouble finding many non self-contained campsites on the apps that were free. Also, wardens usually came around in the evenings checking that all the vans were self-contained, so you would most likely get a fine if you tried to risk it!
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – Geysers in Rotorua – £33.15 for 2 people
Hobbiton – £85.68 for 2 people
I think the activities we did was maybe the biggest difference in cost when comparing the two islands. In the South the only activity we paid for was the Milford Sound cruise, which you can only do by paying a company to take you. Other than that, all the things we saw were free! But maybe allocate a few hundred pounds if you are wanting to do one of the adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown!
However in the North, many more of the tourist sights had to be paid for! We only ended up paying for two, but there were many more we could have done. For example we were looking to go to the famous Waitomo Caves, but they charge £27 per person for just a 45 minute experience. Instead we found glowworms in Waipu Caves at no cost to us! That being said, the activities we did pay for were 100% worth the cost. We just had to visit Hobbiton, we didn’t really see it as an option not to go. And then Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua was just amazing, the alien-like colours of the geysers were incredible.
Total for 2 people – £14.28
On average we did spend less on showers in the North island, the most we paid was £1.74 each compared to that of £2.58 in the South. Not only were the showers cheaper in the North, but we were able to shower at Cityfitness gyms where we could find them. We had our membership from when we lived in Christchurch, and kept it so we could use the showers for free.
Total for 2 people – £9.18
We only ended up paying for laundry twice in the North island, but the prices are pretty much the same all over the country. We would usually pay £1.99 for the washer and the same again for the dryer.
Total for 2 people – £59.66
This miscellaneous category has been made up of everything that we have had to pay for such as road tolls, toothpaste and other essentials. I have listed a few of the more generic ones below.
Wellington buses – £17.87
Cathedral Cove Park & Ride – £5.21
Road tolls – £2.23
TOTAL COST OF THE TRIP – £2146.08
South Island – £1161.03
North Island – £875.77
Interislander Ferry – £109.28
So here we have our total cost of our seven week road trip through New Zealand, broken down to include both islands and also the ferry to transport you between the two. What this does not include is the cost of our van, which was £2600, and the money we spent improving the interior. We actually managed to resell our van at the end of our trip for a small profit! We also paid for car insurance and breakdown cover.
For a seven week trip I believe we did a pretty good job of budgeting our costs. Considering that New Zealand is quite an expensive country, we had a good balance of watching our spending whilst not letting it hinder our travel experience.
I really hope that this has given you a good indication on how much you will need to travel New Zealand. Or if you have already been let me know any money saving tips you had on the road!
VAN LIFE ESSENTIALS
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