Long mild summers and the appeal of the great outdoors mean that New Zealanders have a history of exploring their own backyard on no-frills road trips or hiking expeditions. In fact, the family camping holiday is practically a national institution! So the country is well suited to any traveller who wants to get the most out of their money.

Satisfy the independent streak in your clients by suggesting they purchase a tent or hire a campervan and explore the wonderful landscape. For those really wanting to get back to nature, hiking in the back country is something of a Kiwi tradition – the Department of Conservation maintains a network of tracks and low-cost huts and camping areas so that visitors can experience the unique landscape on any budget.


Saving money on accommodation means more to spend on activities.

Quality, inexpensive accommodation is easy to find. From backpacker hostels to camping grounds, complete with cabins and sometimes motel units, there is a wide range of budget accommodation.

Backpacker Hostels

With more than 500 backpackers throughout New Zealand your clients are spoilt for choice! Some offer only dorms, others have private rooms. Bed linen and laundry facilities are often available for an extra charge. Bathroom, kitchen and living areas are shared, which contributes to the communal atmosphere. Hostels may offer package deals on activities.

Budget Backpacker Hostels of New Zealand With over 220 members, BBH is the biggest network of independently owned and operated hostels. The BBH Club Card offers ‘Frequent Sleeper’ rates and preferential online bookings. www.bbh.co.nz

Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand Budget backpacker accommodation that offers a number of five-star hostels. 41 locations means your clients’ YHA passes will take them a long way. www.yha.co.nz

BASE Backpackers High-quality budget accommodation in main centres, including deluxe BASE Sanctuary girls-only dorms. www.stayatbase.com

Holiday Parks and Camping Grounds

Some camping grounds have backpacker accommodation and communal lounges. Visitors share kitchen and bathrooms.

Top 10 Holiday Parks Budget accommodation in 49 locations. Some parks have cabins and motel rooms. Encourage your clients to join the Top 10 Club for discounts. www.top10.co.nz

Department of Conservation For back-to-basics camping, DOC operates more than 250 camping grounds. They can be very basic; some have only long-drop toilets and streams for water. On the up-side, your clients can often stay at these sites for free. Others are more comfortable, with hot showers, and visitors pay a small charge to stay. www.doc.govt.nz

Self Contained and Serviced

Accommodation in motel studios and suites is easy to find near main driving routes and in cities and is a good option for independence and privacy, especially if your clients are travelling in a group. Parking is usually free and many motels have amenities such as a laundry and sometimes a kitchen. Most are regularly serviced.

Motel Association of New Zealand Network of over 900 self-contained accommodation providers around the nation. www.nzmotels.co.nz

Farm Stays

Down on the farm your clients can experience the good life, Kiwi style. There are a couple of options offering accommodation in return for helping out on farms.

Willing Workers on Organic Farms Go green in Aotearoa! Backpackers travelling on a Working Holiday Visa can work their way around New Zealand in exchange for full board. www.wwoof.co.nz

Farm Helpers in NZ Farm stays offering food and accommodation in exchange for a few hours’ work each day. www.fhinz.co.nz


Self-drive road trips are a popular option for backpackers, but dedicated backpacker bus tours are another good option.

Being a relatively small country with a good network of coach transport makes New Zealand cheap and easy to get around in for budget travellers who prefer not to drive. While renting a vehicle is an economical option for a group of people travelling together, independent travellers have the option of purchasing bus passes for the ultimate convenience and savings or joining a specialised bus network such as Magic Travellers Network or Kiwi Experience for an unforgettable social experience in some of the country’s more unusual regions.

Vehicle Hire

Renting a car or campervan gives maximum flexibility. With a campervan, of course, accommodation is part of the package, so your clients will only need to pay for a site at a camping ground. For a group of people travelling together, renting a vehicle is a particularly cost-effective option. Rental offices are at airports, city depots and ferry terminals, and minimum hire ages vary from 21 to 25. Some companies let hirers pick up a new car on the other side of Cook Strait, saving them on ferry fares.

Air Travel

Daily air services connect larger centres, and many travel from one end of the country to the other by road, returning to the gateway city by air. For the cheapest fares on all carriers check www.webjet.co.nz. Cheap flights require flexibility and little baggage, and travellers pay extra for any services.

Air New Zealand If your clients want the full service, book with the national carrier. They service the most destinations and do offer cheaper fares on sale on www.grabaseat.co.nz. Cheaper fares must be booked online. www.airnewzealand.co.nz

Jetstar Cheap flights between Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown. All economy service with snacks for purchase only. www.jetstar.com


Travelling by bus and rail can be a convenient option for independent travellers. Affordable and convenient buses depart daily from popular destinations.

InterCity The biggest operator gets you to over 600 destinations. Buses are air-conditioned and modern, and overnight ‘Starlighter’ services save travellers a night’s accommodation. www.intercity.co.nz

Naked Bus Bargain basement long-distance bus fares. Special fares start from as little as NZ$1 (plus $1 booking fee) and the regular fares are cheap too. www.nakedbus.com


New Zealand’s rail network isn’t comprehensive, but offers some fantastically scenic rail journeys. KiwiRail (www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz) operates a rail service between Wellington and Auckland, as well as a famously scenic route, the TranzAlpine, between Christchurch and Greymouth. Special journeys to other North Island destinations are sometimes available and there are good discounts from time to time.


Ferries operate between the North and South Island, to Stewart Island and other places. Advance bookings are essential if your clients are travelling with a vehicle and/or at peak times across Cook Strait.

Interislander Up to 11 daily services across Cook Strait for both vehicles and passengers. Ferries have food courts and movie theatres on board. Look online for the latest specials. www.interislander.co.nz

Bluebridge Slightly smaller operator with up to four daily return sailings for passengers and vehicles. Bluebridge offers free big-screen movies on its Cook Strait services. www.bluebridge.co.nz

Tour Operators

With tour operators, options range from independent to guided or group tours. Independent tours offer maximum flexibility; assistance with itinerary planning, but once in New Zealand, your clients are on their own. Guided and group tours are brilliant for experiencing popular itineraries without hassle. For backpackers, though, there are some great options offering the best of both worlds.

Kiwi Experience Once they’ve chosen a route, your clients can get on and off as much as they like for up to a year. Routes get travellers off the beaten track and there are discounts on accommodation and activities. www.kiwiexperience.com

Stray Hop-on, hop-off travel to out-of-the-way places. With mini coaches your clients will travel in smaller groups. www.straytravel.com

Haka Tours Guides take travellers off the beaten track and to key destinations. Choose activities and pre-book along the way. www.hakatours.com

Flying Kiwi Adventure Tours Pack as much into the trip as your clients can handle with one of more than 10 entirely flexible expeditions. www.flyingkiwi.com

Hiking New Zealand Back-to-basics backpacking to secret spots and wilderness areas. Travellers explore on foot, by kayak or canoe and experience camping. www.hikingnewzealand.com


Make sure your clients have set aside funds to cover the most iconic New Zealand activities.

New Zealand is a destination like no other! Adventure, adrenaline and affordable travel – all set against a fantastic backdrop – make this island nation the perfect place to explore. And there are lots of ways to make money go further when it comes to finding things to do. Walking is a great way to discover the country without spending money – even a simple forest walk can feel like an extraordinary experience for clients who want to get back to nature. And for those wanting to explore the urban lifestyle and local culture, many museums and galleries may be visited free of charge. In all parts of the country there are inexpensive and even free options to keep visitors entertained, including walking tours of significant sights and architecturally noteworthy buildings. But don’t forget that experiences like whale watching or bungy jumping are worth every cent! Help your clients find and use discount cards for deals on these and other activities.

Eating And Drinking

Make sure your clients sample New Zealand’s famous fish ‘n’ chips – the ultimate inexpensive treat.

Larger cities and even smaller centres offer budget choices from ethnic cafés through to fish ‘n’ chip shops. Or your clients may prefer to cook for themselves – fresh ingredients are available year-round at farmers’ markets. City supermarkets abound, but country prices may be higher, so advise your clients to stock up before heading to isolated places. They should spend a little money on those special Kiwi treats (like a great bottle of wine), though! For those seeking the occasional indulgence, New Zealand’s dining culture offers a range of experiences, from classic ethnic cuisines from around the world to the local style, which draws on the influences of many different cultures to create a national menu that is as vibrant and innovative as it is delicious!

Quality at a Great Price

Qualmark New Zealand is New Zealand tourism’s official quality agency – and it’s not just for high-end accommodation. There are categories for all kinds of accommodation, including Self Contained and Serviced (motels, apartments and holiday cottages), Holiday Home, Holiday Park and Backpackers. Grades range from 1- to 5-star for all styles. All accommodation that has been awarded a Qualmark has undergone a detailed assessment to ensure that it meets a minimum level of requirements in cleanliness, security and comfort. That means even operators with a low number of stars under the Qualmark grading system offer accommodation that is basic, clean and comfortable. Qualmark also offers Qualmark Enviro, rating businesses Gold, Silver or Bronze according to their sustainability, giving you and your clients the ability to choose from a range of green accommodation and activity providers.

Purchasing a Vehicle

If your clients are planning a longer road trip, then buying (and re-selling) a car is an option. Remember that vehicles require a Warrant of Fitness and Registration.

Turners Auctions Catch a no-reserve auction for a bargain. www.turners.co.nz

Trade Me The Kiwi version of eBay. www.trademe.co.nz

AA They offer a vehicle appraisal service if your clients are not quite sure what to look out for. www.aa.co.nz

Backpacker Car World Travellers can pick up a reasonably priced second-hand car that they can sell again at the end of the trip. www.backpackercarworld.com

Dos & Don’ts of Freedom Camping

Freedom camping means parking a camper in a non-designated camping area and staying overnight. Rules on freedom camping vary from region to region, but in all areas, if there is a sign that indicates ‘no camping’, visitors must not park overnight. Campers that are not self-contained (that do not have a toilet, shower and grey water storage on board) must not camp outside designated camping areas. Note that there are some very budget-friendly camping options, such as Department of Conservation camping grounds, where travellers can stay for overnight for a nominal fee. www.freedomcamping.org

Travel Passes

Flexi Pass Travel by the hour on the InterCity network. Passes are valid for a year, travellers can jump on and off as they please and add hours as they go, so it’s very flexible. www.flexipass.intercity.co.nz

Travelpass With Travelpass you pick one of 17 itineraries. But your clients have got a year to use it, so they can jump on and off as much as they like. Ferry travel between North and South Islands is included and some passes have free inclusions to make the budget go further. www.travelpass.intercity.co.nz

Nakedpassport Buy trips on the Naked Bus network in multiples of five. The pass is valid for a year. The ‘Unlimited’ version is exactly that. Add-on activities available. www.nakedbus.com/nz/home/passes-tours

Working Holidays

Getting a Working Holiday Visa is relatively easy and cheap, and your clients can apply online on www.immigration.govt.nz. These visas can be extended if your client can prove that they worked in the agricultural or horticultural seasonal sector for at least three months during their working holiday. Job openings can be found on www.seek.co.nz. Before your clients can start working they’ll need an IRD number for tax reasons. They can apply for this at www.ird.govt.nz once they’re in New Zealand.

Essential Info

In an Emergency When life and/or property are in danger, dial 111 for police, fire service or ambulance.

Hospitals In all major cities; the A&E Department is for serious emergencies only.

Medical Centres Often open beyond business hours. Doctors and 24-hour surgeries are listed in regional telephone directories.

NZ Healthline Freephone: 0800 611 116.

Chemists Prescriptions, contraception and over-the-counter medications.

Laundromats Many hostels offer laundry facilities. For laundromats check directories such as the Yellow Pages. www.yellowpages.co.nz

Phone Home Get an Easy Talk phone card for great international rates. Buy a cheap mobile or SIM card from 2degrees, Telecom or Vodafone.

Internet Lots of hostels have broadband. Also try internet cafés and public libraries.

Luggage Depots Storage is available in all major cities. Check out visitor information centres.

Travel Info For information, visit an i-SITE Visitor Centre.