New Zealand On a Budget
Whether you're planning to visit New Zealand for a year or even just a few weeks, it is possible to see this lovely country on a budget. In my past four months here, I've picked up quite a lot of information on various ways to alleviate costs while taking in the gorgeous Kiwi countryside.
Useful Free Smartphone Apps:
+ CamperMate - This helpful app uses your phone's built-in GPS to find the nearest campsites (for vehicles or tents), laundry facilities, toilets, petrol stations, and even local attractions.
+ WikiCamps NZ - Even more campsites can be found on this wiki app.
+ Wildlife of New Zealand Apps Series - If you want to identify and learn about unique New Zealand wildlife while you're here but don't want to splurge on little guidebooks, try one of these apps on marine life, bugs, birds, and reptiles.
+ Non-budget based apps that also helpful: Stuff - Comprehensive NZ-based news app. We use this app to stay up-to-date with national and international news. GeoNet - real-time earthquake and tsunami alerts! Very helpful.
Join a Hostel/Campground Network
+ Budget Backpacker Hostels (BBH) - I mentioned this network once before in my Working Holiday how-to but being a BBH member pays for itself with only a few nights spent in New Zealand hostels. And it feels like nearly every hostel in the country is a member, so you'll almost constantly have an opportunity to use your member discount. They also have many member-only deals and offers.
+ Youth Hostels Association (YHA) - Though there aren't as many YHA member hostels in New Zealand as some other countries, there are still quite a few locations. Not only that but they offer tons of discounts for YHA members on car rentals, at touring agencies, & on sight-seeing around the country.
+ Top Ten Holiday Parks - If you're seeing New Zealand by campervan or even just looking for a small clean cabin, Top Ten parks are located in cities and tiny towns all over the country. Not only that but they also offer their own member benefits.
There are three major grocery chains throughout New Zealand: New World, Countdown, and Pak 'n Save. Pak 'n Save is the cheapest overall. Countdown has a slightly wider variety of products. New World is the priciest but has the best selection of both international import foods and New Zealand grown and produced items.
+ TradeMe - this website is sort of like New Zealand's answer to ebay and Craigslist. If you need any sort of camping gear, clothes, or even a car (!) check out the listings on TradeMe
+ Secondhand Stores/ "Op Shops" - Secondhand shops are plentiful in nearly every Kiwi city or town. And they're often stocked with decent slightly-used gear at very affordable prices. Considering how expensive full-price items tend to be in outdoor stores in NZ, I'd never buy something new here unless I'd checked all the op shops around first.
+ Hostels - Because New Zealand is an isolated, ocean-bound nation that attracts travelers from long distances, you'll always meet somebody who's about to leave this country. Which means that they may be looking to sell or give away whatever gear or supplies they've amassed while they were staying here. I've seen people offering up free or cheap camp gear at many different hostels.
If you're traveling New Zealand and feel like taking a break from constantly dwindling your bank account on a daily basis, a help exchange is always a good option. I've mentioned them before, but you could always use sites like HelpX, Workaway, or WWOOF. Even more options, particularly restaurant- or hostel-based ones, can be found on backpacker boards like BBH's noticeboard or BackpackerBoardNZ.
Instead of paying for a bus or renting a car or buying a used car, consider hitch-hiking. It's actually pretty safe & common here in NZ. For more information on how, check out my post on the subject.
All in all, though this country is more expensive than many others, budget travel can be done here. And if you'd like even more information on how to travel on the cheap generally, check out this post.